Fascination with speed — in all modes of transportation — is always tempered, though, with the need for safety and stability, ensuring that power and control remain hand-in-hand.
This is especially true in the maritime industry, which has significantly accelerated the issues of safety of ship, crew and passenger in recent years.
A significant debut of a new fast craft was at a New Orleans exhibition, at which Halter Marine Group puts its innovative high-speed, low-wake E-CAT through its paces. The catamaran passenger ferry (which follows an emerging trend of innovative paint jobs as well as technological advances) made a 40-knot plus debut during the International Marine Transit Association (IMTA) conference.
The E-CAT is interesting in that its design was in part spawned by concerns raised over other large high-speed vessel designs.
Designed in cooperation with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency MARITECH program, the twin-hulled, all-aluminum vessel is designed for cost-effective, high-speed ferrying of passengers in wake sensitive areas such as that found on rivers, waterfront environments and recreation areas.
"The flexible E-CAT design can be easily configured to meet customer requirements from 250 to 450 passengers...with speeds reaching 40 knots," said Halter Marine president and CEO John Dane III.
The prototype E-CAT particulars follow: Length 148 ft. (45.1 m) Width 38 ft. (11.5 m) Draft, design 4 ft. (1.2 m) Main engines Caterpillar 3516B Waterjets Bird Johnson Gears Reintjes Range 500 nm Classification ABS Halter's already stellar reputation among the advanced fast ferry builders of the world has grown substantially of late, capped with the announcement that it and Empresa Nacional Bazan de C.N.M., S.A. of Madrid, Spain had formed Halter-Bazan, a joint venture to build Bazan-designed aluminum passenger/vehicle fast ferries (the Alhambra class) at the Halter facility. Construction of a 410 ft. (125 m), 1,250- passenger/240-vehicle vessel for an unnamed customer is reported to begin next month, and negotiations on a similar vessel are currently underway. Halter will also build Bazan's Mestral class.
Partnerships — on all levels of all industries is flourishing, and the fast ferry segment of the marine market is no exception. Hellenic Shipyards Co. and Rodriquez Cantieri Navali S.p.A. signed a cooperation agreement last October which produced the framework for an agreement for the promotion and construction of the Rodriquez Cantieri Navali design hydrofoils and the Aquastrada line of ferries. The Aquastrada Ferries have proven to be exceptionally stable and productive, even in adverse weather conditions, and Hellenic is touting the vessel as not only competing with other fast ferries for the carriage of passengers, but competing with all other modes of transportation — including road and air — in delivering speed, quality and convenient travel. The Aquastrada series is equipped with the Navigation Seaworthiness Management System — a computerized stabilization system designed to reduce pitch and vertical acceleration — and the vessels maintain speeds between 40-50 knots.
Dressed To Go Higher speeds have upped the technological ante, in terms of the delivery of a product which will not only break records at sea trials, but remain a valuable, money-making portion of a given owner's fleet. No doubt, the stresses and strains on hull and machinery is greater at 50 knots than 20, but for seasoned maritime outfitters, it is a mere matter of engineering the solution to fit the challenge.
For example, Maritime Dynamics of Lexington Park, Md., has responded to the demand for fast speeds and light hulls by undertaking an extensive product assessment to address these concerns. The result, according to the company, is several weight saving features which will be incorporated into the company's highly regarded ride control system. The first measure has been to design the ride control hydraulics system to operate other onboard equipment. Now Maritime Dynamics offers hydraulic packs which, in addition to the ride control system, operate the propulsion waterjet steering and reversing system. During docking operations, they can be utilized for car ramps, capstans and anchor winches. This summer, Maritime Dynamics is scheduled to install its first commercial computer-based ride control system with an embedded Microsoft Windows operating system. The system will offer touch screen operation, as well as improved diagnostics, and easy integration with alarm and monitoring systems. Maritime Dynamics ride control system references include Incat's wave-piercing catamaran Hull 050 (see story, page 37), Trico Marine's SWATH Stillwater River (see story, page 43); Derecktor Shipyard's Ernest Hemingway; and Fincantieri's Superseacat III and IV. Litton Marine Systems scored an unusual double score this past summer, when the trans- Atlantic speed record was broken twice. Both Incat-built vessels — Catalonia which averaged 38.85 knots and Cat-Link V, which averaged 41.284 knots — featured Litton Marine System electronics. Both ships feature an integrated package of two Litton LMX 406 DGPS receivers and two HSC Decca BridgeMaster II 250 series navigation radars, which are designed specifically to meet the requirements of high-speed craft. The S-band and X-band radars are fully interswitched, so that they can be controlled from either the navigator's or captain's station. The ships both are fitted with Litton's advanced ISIS 250 engine monitoring, alarm and control system for the main propulsion and auxiliary systems.
Of all the systems featured onboard today's advanced fast craft, the lion's share of attention still is focused on the powerplants. Propulsion choice — high speed diesel v. gas turbine; propeller v. waterjet, etc. — is often the subject of colorful debate at industry conferences and among the various sales representatives of different manufacturers. Choice of machinery still largely depends on the operational parameters of a vessel, as well as an owner's experience with a particular brands.
On the gas turbine side, GE Marine Engines has had good success of late with two installations aboard MDV 3000-class fast ferries for Tirrenia Lines, both of which began commercial operation this summer powered by GE's LM2500 aeroderivative gas turbines. The MDV 3000-class vessels each feature combined diesel and gas turbine configurations (CODAG) with two 22-MW LM2500 gas turbines and four 6.7- MW MTU diesel engines, for a total power output in excess of 70 MW per vessel.
Each MDV 3000 travels in excess of 40 knots carrying 1,800 passengers and 460 vehicles. Two more vessels, similarly powered, are due to come on-line this summer.
Caterpillar is, of course, no stranger to providing power for high speed performance, and the engine maker recently announced a significant upgrade of its 16- cylinder 3616 engine (pictured above) for marine fast transport. Power is now six percent higher, to 6,000 bkW at 1,020 rpm, which was accomplished without increasing peak cylinder pressure. Other improvements include smoother acceleration and improved efficiency, as well as better emission levels and increased flexibility in terms of installation. The new engine is available on a limited basis during the first three months of 1999, with full production set for the second quarter. The first vessel with the new engines will be the Armas Group 36,000 bkW ferry for service in the Canary islands. Six 3616s will drive three Lips waterjets on the Rodriquez Cantieri Navalibuilt ship.
At a recent industry event, Volvo Penta maintained its leadership role in the development of propulsion solutions for fast craft with its extension of its innovative series of integrated waterjet propulsion packages — which are complete with marine diesel engine, gearbox and waterjet — to 7, 12 and 16- liter diesel options. The integrated units are based on Volvo Penta's diesel engines, and Kamewa waterjets.