German LNG research newbuild is on track

Atair - first LNG fuelled research ship for Germany
Atair - first LNG fuelled research ship for Germany
The completed Atair hull at GNYK
The completed Atair hull at GNYK

     Construction of Atair - the world’s first government-owned, LNG driven survey and research ship - is on target and in budget for delivery to German service next year. Tom Todd takes a look.

The new 75m long, 16.8m wide ocean-going Atair is being delivered by Fassmer Werft next February to operators, the Hamburg-based Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). Fassmer Shipbuilding Division Sales Director Thomas Sass told the Motorship: “Everything is going according to plan”. BSH head Karin Kammann-Lippstein was quoted as adding “we are on track in respect of both timetable and costs”.

The €114 million newbuild, drawing 5m and of max.13 knots, will replace a 51m namesake built in 1987 and serve in the North Sea, Baltic and Atlantic. The BSH said it will be the world’s first public service research ship to use LNG fuel. Its scope of work will include wreck search and research as well as hydrographic and marine environmental survey and the testing of navigation and radar equipment.

Atair’s all-steel hull and superstructures have been built at German Naval Yards (GNY) in Kiel because of limited capacity at Fassmer in Berne/Weser.The ships LNG tank and piping as well as three generators are among equipment also installed at GNY.

Completed late January, the hull was floated-out late February and was being taken to Fassmer mid March after further outfitting work at GNY. Thomas Sass told the Motorship systems testing and running-in was planned for October while sea trials and testing of Atair’s state-of-the-art scientific equipment were due in December and January.

Internally, the new ship will boast a dual-fuel (LNG-MGO- Electric) drive system fropm Wärtsilä comprising two 6-cylinder 20DF duel fuel main engines capable of operation with LNG and conventional liquid fuels and one Wärtsilä 6L20 engine. Maximum expected speed is 13 knots and the ship will be capable of switching fuels without losing power or speed.

Wärtsilä is also supplying two SCR exhaust cleaning systems for service during MGO operation. Sass stressed that only high-quality gasoil would be used. The 130m3 LNGPac tank, fuel storage, supply and control system are also from Wärtsilä. The tank will provide ten days of independent LNG operation. When Atair is operating in combined GAS/MGO mode, it will have a range of about 8,000 sea miles, Sass said.

The ship will be propelled by a single FPP seven-blade propeller and also boast a Schottel STT 1 bow thruster, a Pumpjet SPJ220 and a Schottel STT 170 stern thruster. “Efficient and eco-friendly ship operation is ensured”, Sass declared.

Kongsberg is providing the engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) package for Atair. It’s the first ship to get Kongsberg’s Integrated Vessel Concept, which unites operational, hydrographic and energy functions. Thomas Sass said the contribution included the Kongsberg power management system K-Master, which includes the K-Chief marine automation system and the fully-compliant K-Bridge ECDIS system.

The new Atair boasts a string of special features. It is being equipped with an A-frame for hydrographic and geo-technical work, as well as a working crane, specialised winches, a deployment boom, a CTD-unit and sounding equipment.

A DP-1 dynamic positioning system, low noise transmission to ICES recommended levels and DNVGL Silent-R will also be on board as will wet and dry laboratories, a diving compartment and facilities for handling hazardous materials and for treating exhaust gas emissions.

One unusual feature, the BSH said, is the location of both of the ship’s two survey boats down one side of the newbuild to create more room for laboratories and transport containers on the 200m2 working deck. The boats, equipped for wreck diving and shallow water survey, were also designed and built by Fassmer,

Classified DNVGL +1A SPS BWM (T) Dynpos (Aut) E0 Gas fuelled Ice (1C) Naut (Nav) Silent (R), the new Atair accommodates 18 crew and 15 scientists.

Some facilities – like that for treating exhaust gas emissions – are part of a bid to acquire Blauer Engel certification. Thomas Sass predicted Atair would meet the stringent technical demands of that coveted German eco-ship design and operation label. It has already been won by another pioneering German LNG fuelled ship – the 83m passenger ferry Helgoland which was also built by Fassmer Werft and also boasts Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines.


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