As part of the drift of heavy industrial activity from Europe to the Far East, production of two-stroke diesel propulsion machinery has become the province of the leading national players in newbuild construction. However, close to the northern tip of Jutland, MAN B&W's Alpha Diesel division has restored a substantial Danish capability for low-speed engine manufacturing, to the extent that its Frederikshavn works has emerged as a bastion of European two-stroke production.
The extension in the market reach of the already diversified plant, renowned for its integrated propulsion packages based on four-stroke drives, is a clear endorsement of the substantial investments made by MAN B&W in dedicated facilities in recent years. It is no less an expression of industrial and commercial will.
Since the preponderance of MC-series low-speed machinery designed by MAN B&W's Danish arm is constructed by licensees, and predominantly those in the Far East, the Alpha operation has added value in providing a group-owned window into the production-related aspects of engine design. Moreover, it provides a basis for better honing practical skills associated with the after-sales support function, an ever-more important aspect of business for engine licensors and makers.
After some years of building the mini-bore models in the MAN B&W two-stroke range, the Alpha factory made its debut in the 500 mm-bore category in July 1998, when the first 6L50MC unit was rolled-out of the extended production facilities in Frederikshavn. The plant investment effectively raised the scope of the works to meet the propulsion needs of vessels of Panamax size, in the case of single-engine installations, and larger tonnage where twin-engine layouts are involved. In fact, within the past two years, Alpha Diesel's deliveries have included the twin propulsion engines for two of the first three Millennium-class crude carriers under construction at Avondale. Each 30,030-bhp installation for the milestone tanker program comprises a pair of 7S50MC-C low-speed units.
Another link with the U.S. shipbuilding industry has now been established through an order for the same type of engine, a seven-cylinder S50MC-C, to be supplied to Friede Goldman Halter's Pascagoula yard. This will provide the propulsive power for a 13,000-dwt pure car/truck carrier (PCTC) destined to operate in the U.S. West Coast/Hawaii trade under the banner of Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines
The S50MC-C also figures prominently in a clutch of new orders from the Turkish market, where Alpha claims to be the leading supplier of two-stroke propulsion plant. Significantly, most of the engines figure as part of complete propulsion package contracts. While other areas of the European diesel engine building industry have rationalized the product flow from individual factories, MAN B&W has invested in a broader offering from Alpha, as concerns both its integrated propulsion systems supply capability, as well as four-stroke and two-stroke engine lines.
Accordingly, the future for engineering production at Frederikshavn clearly rests in a wide remit of engines, gearboxes, controllable pitch propellers and monitoring systems.
Underscoring its growing international profile as a two-stroke producer, some 186,000-bhp of MAN B&W Alpha's total order intake of approximately 237,000-bhp of new engines between January and August this year entailed two-stroke models.
Powering-Up the Finnish Range
Costa Crociere's impressive new Costa Atlantica gives first form to the so-called Panamax-Max generation from Kvaerner Masa-Yards, embodying the 8000-class design concept developed in conjunction with the Italian operator and its parent Carnival group.
While providing a further, prestigious reference for the diesel-electric mode in conjunction with podded outboard drives, encapsulated in two 17.6-MW Azipod propulsors, Costa Atlantica also ushers-in a new power rating for the popular Wärtsilä 46 medium-speed diesel.
The vessel's six diesel engines mark the seagoing debut of the D version of the Wärtsilä 46 design in a key sector of the market. The new model yields a 10 percent power increase over the 46C series, already one of the industry's most competitive designs. The cumulative effect of the uprating amounts to 5,670 kW in the case of the multi-engine installation employed in Costa Atlantica.
Making for a 62,370 kW powerhouse, each of the 9L46D units develops 10,395 kW at 514 rev/min, and is connected to an ABB alternator delivering electricity into the main 11 kV system. An important aspect of the machinery installation aboard Costa Atlantica is its division into two, completely independent systems, conferring full redundancy. Each 'half plant' incorporates three main diesel gensets plus fuel and ancillary systems, main electrical distribution, control and automation.
Wärtsilä NSD's 460 mm-bore engine series, which has become a popular propulsion selection for large cruise vessels and passenger ferries in addition to mercantile tonnage, is produced at the extensively modernized Turku factory in Finland. Surging business for the Wärtsilä 46 series this year has included the engine's nomination for a high proportion of the RoPax ferry projects implemented by European operators. The design is also central to Wärtsilä NSD's continuing, large-scale endeavors to provide new solutions to the market's increasing expectations as regards diesel engine environmental performance at large.