The Strong Get Stronger

Thursday, May 25, 2000
Consolidation in the maritime industry is not something new. In the past five years, oil majors such as Exxon and Mobil, and BP, Amoco and Arco have all consolidated. Shipyards haven't been immune to mergers, either; as Halter was purchased by Friede Goldman; and Litton Ingalls consolidated with Avondale. In each of those cases, the resulting effects of the merger was clear, and in some cases, resonated through and affected multiple levels of the marine marketplace But, when equipment manufacturers begin to consolidate, the effects aren't quite as obvious. In the past five years, Caterpillar acquired MaK and, more recently, Sabre. And Rolls-Royce has joined the buying frenzy with such zeal and aggression, it's almost easier to list companies not owned by the propulsion giant. Part of the ambiguity of the merger between equipment manufacturers is, typically, the existing product line is still maintained; just owned and distributed by the new company. According to Ron Ross, director of purchasing for Hvide Marine, the effects of the consolidation - so far - have been minimal. "We still need what we need. If engineering tells us to get a Caterpillar engine, we'll get a Caterpillar engine. "I can see where the consolidation would be good, and where it wouldn't be. Certainly, there's the standpoint of better worldwide distribution than you would ordinarily have. To us, anything that increases distribution and ready-access to materials, and hopefully results in a financial savings, is certainly a good thing." Tom Denning, vice-president of engineering for Hvide, says the effects are a bit more problematic, initially. "I guess the negative effects of the big mergers is the total confusion that ensues until they get everything sorted out. No one is ever quite sure of what everyone else in the company is doing, and it takes a while to get everything straightened out. IN the past, when I wanted an Ulstein winch, I knew who to call; when I wanted an Aquamaster winch, I knew who to call. Now, they're both owned by the same company, and, until things are straightened out, I don't know who to call. "On the positive side though, once things are sorted out, there are times I'm only making one phone call. When you've got a fleet with lots of different pieces of equipment, you used to know you'd be in for a long day of phone calls when ordering equipment from all the different manufacturers. Now, that time has been reduced dramatically." "We haven't been affected that much up to now," says Dennis Fanguy, technical director of Bollinger Shipyards. "In terms of propulsion, we only had one situation where we had a pre-existing quote from MTU North America, prior to the merger between MTU, Penske and Detroit Diesel. After the merger, we had to negotiation with Detroit Diesel for a while, and then eventually the talks fell through. We ended up asking MTU if we could work directly with them. "On the other hand, recently there was a smaller electronics firm we worked with that was purchased by Hose-McCann. We'd had problems with the firm in the past, mainly because it was a pretty small firm. Once Hose-McCann entered the picture, it was able to get the smaller firm past the problem areas they were running into. "As long as the parent company can bring a greater amount of resources to the mix, the effect on us should be positive." Aggressive Purchasing Techniques Following its acquisition of Vickers plc, Rolls-Royce offers a greatly enhanced marine products portfolio, ranging from state-of-the-art gas turbine engines and waterjets to deck handling equipment. According to Bob Sunerton, managing director, marine, "The future marine markets are potentially huge and Rolls-Royce is now positioned to take advantage of this growing sector. The acquisition of Vickers enables us to meet customer's changing requirements, offer a broader product range and supply a fully integrated power systems capability." The Rolls-Royce marine business is sub-divided into naval activities and the commercial sector. Marine capabilities are organized into seven market segments, so a customer's particular needs can be directly addressed by specialist teams in terms of vessel design, engines, propulsion equipment and deck machinery. The marine market segments are: offshore supply and service vessels; offshore production and exploration vessels and platforms; cruise and passenger ships; cargo carriers; tugs, workboats and coastal ferries; fishing vessels; and naval. In addition to its range of gas turbines, the Rolls-Royce marine equipment portfolio now features familiar product names, including Ulstein Aquamaster azimuth thrusters, Kamewa Ulstein controllable pitch (CP) propellers, Kamewa waterjets, Brown Brothers stabilizers, and Rauma Brattvaag deck machinery. Sunerton adds, "As the trend towards fast ships and special applications determines high technology equipment, the proportion of value attributable to the power system will grow ? over a number of commercial market sectors." Marine Capabilities The Rolls-Royce range includes complete integrated propulsion systems, featuring diesel engines and gas turbines for powers from 0.5 mW to 50 mW, through to propellers, thrusters and waterjets. Propellers, transmissions and maneuvering aids are provided for most types of vessels ? both commercial and naval. Conventional shaftlines and controllable pitch propellers ? with sizes up to 30.5 ft. in diameter ? are supplied to cruise ships, ferries, container vessels, OSVs and naval craft under the Kamewa Ulstein and Bird Johnson product names. Ulstein Aquamaster azimuth thrusters for propulsion and station keeping are made with CP or Kamewa fixed pitch propellers in sizes from giant underwater demountable units for rigs and drillships to small Z-drives for tugs. Units with contra-rotating propellers have proved themselves efficient for propelling river cruise vessels and RoRo ferries. The same design principles are used in retractable bowthrusters used for maneuvering and independent get-home propulsion. All aspects of maneuvering and motion control are addressed by Rolls-Royce propulsion equipment, which includes tunnel thrusters, two types of flap rudder for different speed ranges, steering gear for most applications, and both active and passive stabilizing systems. Comprehensive automation systems for controlling and monitoring this equipment are designed and produced, and where appropriate they can include tank sounding, or interfacing with dynamic positioning systems. Waterjets from Kamewa cover fast craft propulsion needs with three families of units. The smaller two ranges are constructed in aluminium and applications cover vessel types from pilot launches to patrol craft and fast ferries. The larger stainless steel S-series, with more than 1,400 units delivered to date, suits high powered installations up to the biggest and fastest high speed ferries and freighters. A four water jet system in an 282.2 ft. long catamaran passenger vehicle ferry recently provided the thrust for a world record 24 hour run on the vessel's delivery voyage to Denmark. Water jets up to 50 mW unit power are under development. Podded propulsion systems are becoming increasingly popular for cruise ships and in offshore exploration and production. Kamewa Mermaid pods, forming part of an electric drive system supplied in consortium with Alstom, have been chosen for many cruise vessels now on order, such as four 12.5 mW units for two 72,000 gt ships, the first large passenger vessels to be built in the USA for more than 40 years. Diesel Engines The Rolls-Royce medium speed diesel engine portfolio comprises a comprehensive range of established models and newly developed units for main propulsion and auxiliary power generation. The intent is to combine the new Bergen B 32:40 and Allen 5000 ranges of medium speed diesel engines to span outputs from three mW to 9.5 mW. All models can be employed for propulsion or generator drive duties, and can burn HFO or MDO fuels. The BR and BV series continues to be popular. As well as establishing a long history of propulsion applications in the offshore support and fishing vessel sectors, the Bergen K range (585-4,010 kW) has also met particular success in the auxiliary power market. Deck Machinery Winches made under the Rauma Brattvaag name cover merchant vessel mooring and anchoring requirements together with the more specialized demands of the offshore, fishing and tug markets. Low-pressure or high-pressure hydraulic or electric drive systems can be applied, depending on application and the customer's preference. Oil and gas activities in ever deeper water have led to anchor-handling winches with pulls of more than 600 tons, capable of handling wire or synthetic fibre ropes. Complementing the main offshore winches are all the auxiliary winches and reels needed, plus control systems, and the same reasoning is applied to the fishing winch market. Recently, Syncrolift, a Rolls-Royce company based in Reston, Va., announced an agreement to supply two new Syncrolift shiplift and transfer systems with a combined value of more than $6 million to European port operators. A 2,685 ton lift capacity Syncrolift will be added to the Peterhead Harbours commercial fishing facility at Scott's Pier in Peterhead, Scotland, enhancing capacity and allowing for faster turn-around times in returning ships to sea. The system, expected to be completed in April, 2001, will be the third Syncrolift installation in Scotland. Another order was placed by the Port of Cherbourg, in France, where the Syncrolift will be used to dock catamaran ferries and monohull vessels. With a 295.3 x 105 ft. platform, the shiplift will use 14,438 ton hoists to lift vessels of up to 4,500 tons. The installation is expected to be completed in June 2001. It's the fourth French company to purchase a Syncrolift.
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