Wärtsilä has been awarded the contract to supply the propulsion equipment for a new, state-of-the-art, research vessel. The vessel will be operated by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and is to be built at the C.N.P. Freire S.A. shipyard in Spain. The NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences.
The contract calls for Wärtsilä to supply four of its 8-cylinder in-line Wärtsilä 20 main diesel electric generating sets, two main propulsion steerable thrusters, one bow retractable thrusters, and a complete Low Loss Concept diesel electric system. The majority of the Wärtsilä equipment will be delivered by the end of 2011, and the ship is scheduled to be launched before the end of 2012.
The NERC co-ordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more. NERC receives around $634m a year from the UK government's science budget, which is used to fund independent research and training.
The new research ship will provide a state-of-the-art platform for researchers to address some of the world's most pressing environmental issues. It will enable them to take measurements from the oceans that could lead to critical information regarding climate change, marine ecosystems, and underwater seismic activity. This, in turn, could deliver significant economic and societal benefits for the people of the world.
Underwater Radiated Noise (URN) compliance essential
Special attention is to be paid to noise related issues on the main steerable thrusters in order to comply with low URN requirements. These include the modification of the shank and pod to give a more hydrodynamic shape, and a special fixed pitch propeller design adapted to the specific wake field of the vessel. In addition, the generator sets will be double elastically mounted to ensure the lowest possible vibration is transmitted to the ships structure. The Wärtsilä Low Loss Concept diesel electric system will reduce electrical losses, which in turn reduces the power requirement, and hence CO2 emissions. The main steerable thrusters are to be Ice Class 1D compliant.
The NERC vessel, RRS James Cook, delivered in 2006, is also fitted with Wärtsilä propulsion equipment, and the ship's silent propellers were supplied by Wärtsilä in France. The successful performance of this equipment was considered a key factor in the award of this latest contract.