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Romanian shipbuilding & design: Business is looking good

Forty years of Communist rule has left Soviet-dominated countries grappling with the free-market concept, but Romania has embraced its new freedom with true entrepreneurial zeal. Five years after the revolution, the country is eager to enter the world business market in perhaps its strongest suit, shipbuilding and design.

The Eastern block, along with a few countries straddling the socialist wall, kept Romanian shipbuilding at the peak of production during the Communist era.

Icepronav, S.A., the research and design institute for shipbuilding, played a vital role in the country's success.

The former director of shipbuilding for the Romanian government, Gelu Kahu, founded the Institute in 1966 and serves as its chairman today. Mr. Kahu worked for many years to convince his government of the need for such an all-encompassing institution.

He was the driving force behind the growth and diversification that led to Icepronav's current incarnation as one of the most unique design, research and test facilities in the world. Its new general manager, Dr. Jean Sever Popovici, shares Mr. Kahu's confidence and enthusiasm for both the Institute's and Romania's future in the shipbuilding industry.

An educational/exchange arrangement with an engineering school in Trieste, Italy, gives Romanian engineers the opportunity to augment their education. In exchange, the Institute provides mentors and test facilities for student research. Many innovations in ship design have resulted from this partnership.

Icepronav employs a staff of 700, most of them licensed professional engineers, many of them holding doctorate degrees in marine engineering and naval architecture.

The diversified staff offers complete design documentation, specification drawings, working drawings and as-builts.

It also maintains a complete research and test facility consisting of two towing tanks, a maneuvering and seakeeping tank, a cavitation chamber, a wind tunnel, a fire testing lab and a noise/ vibration lab. In addition, it has its own model shop and foundry constructing both hull and propeller models.

Test engineers work closely with design engineers. Design faults or areas for improvement are readily recognized during testing, and corrections can be made immediately via their computer design system. Their computer research and design capabilities are derived in part by the use of the TRIBON program from Kockums Computer System (KCS).

Designers select from a massive data bank of manufacturer-specific equipment and materials when selecting cables, piping, frames, motors, etc. The construction yard merely notifies the institute of its standard vendors and the computer will select those products in the design. It will also check to ensure that additional equipment is compatible with that vendor's product specifications. The bottom line: pipes and joints, flanges and bolts, motors and mounts all fit together.

The institute's production list includes more than 3,000 ships. Its design library contains more than 200 different types of vessels, ranging from a 50-ton scow to a 150,000-dwt oil tanker; plus floating cranes, offshore drilling rigs and related marine structures. Not limited to working vessels only, they also design small- to medium- sized cruise ships and passenger ferries.

Ships are designed in accordance with and all existing regulatory bodies; ABS, U.S. Coast Guard, Lloyd's, DNV, et. al.

Tank Tests Icepronav has been a member of the International Towing Tank Conference since 1990. Once a design is complete, Icepronav's hydrodynamics division enters the project. Models are produced and tested first in the tow tanks where the model's still-water performance is monitored, including wake, resistance and speed field around the ship.

Next the maneuvering tank is employed to check the seakeeping abilities of the vessel. The tank uses two banks of snake-action, wave-mak- ing panels, all computer-controlled and programmed to simulate wave conditions in any part of the world. Ships are tested for bending, sheering and torque under actual working wave conditions. Maneuverability and handling response in zigzag, circles, spirals and pull-outs are charted via strobe photography and stored in a computer for analysis and redesign, if needed. The cavitation tunnel is used to accumulate data on new propeller designs, as well as verifying the most efficient propeller for a given hull. Not only the functioning of the propeller, but also the forces and moments on the propellers, rudders and nozzles are recorded. Propeller-induced forces on the stern and shaft line are also monitored.

Noise and vibration calculations are an integral

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