A New Standard of Quiet

Thursday, December 08, 2005
Institutions through out North America are paying a lot of attention to the University of Delaware’s new research vessel the Hugh R. Sharpe recently delivered from Dakota Creek Industries of Anacortes Washington. (www.dakotacreek.com )

The vessel is fitted with retractable transducer pod, articulating stern gantry, wet lab, dry lab, forward gear deployment boom and CTD handling system. It incorporates in one vessel many of the most sought after features found on scientific research vessels around the world. But it is the propulsion system that is setting the new standard in American research vessels.

The 146x32-foot (44.5x9.75-meter) diesel electric vessel is powered by four Cummins KTA19 -D(M1)-powered electric generators. The generators power two 483 kw, 600v dc propulsion motors mounted to a pair of Schottel Z-drive stern-mounted propulsion units. Although the vessel has a 12-knot cruising speed it can be operated in “quiet mode” at eight knots. Shutting down the two outboard generator sets and using only the two middle sets accomplish this quiet mode. While all four engines have Christie and Grey (www.christiegrey.com ) resilient mounts, the two inboard engines are also mounted on a 9275-pound floating deck that is also resiliently mounted. In addition to the Cummins-powered “quiet mode” gen sets, the vessels contains extensive hull insulation, dampening tiles and custom built piping isolation hangers have been incorporated to prevent radiated hull noise, and to limit sound pressure levels within the vessel. “This has been my biggest challenge since I worked on submarines,” said Dakota Creek Industries’ project engineer Elwood Ide, going on to explain that the resilient mounting and sound dampening systems on the vessel are the commercial equivalent of what is put onto modern submarines. Even the bow thruster is resiliently mounted.

Tankage includes 2,320 gallons (8.78 m3) for water, 13,590 gallons (51.44 m3) for fuel, 375 gallons (1,420 liters) for lube oil, 635 gallons (2,366 liters) for dirty oil, 725 gallons (2,744 liters) for oily water, 834 gallons (3,157 liters) for black water and 834 gallons (3,157 liters) for grey water. Aft of the engine room and forward of the Z-drive room is a winch room that will accommodate two winches leaving the main deck clear or with space for containers to be installed. The large wheelhouse includes an aft facing control center, communication console and a desk for research computers in addition to a comprehensive set of navigational aids.

Accommodation is provided for 8 to 10 crewmembers, up to 12 live aboard scientists and up to 30-day trip scientists. The vessel is load lined and will carry a stability letter for unrestricted Ocean Service as an oceanographic research vessel. It is being delivered to the east coast by heavy lift ship through the Panama to off load in Florida in December.

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