Blue North Fleet Gains Siemens Diesel-Electric Propulsion
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Photo: Siemens

Siemens SISHIP LV drives and SINAMICS components to power customer’s environmentally friendly, next-generation fishing vessel, saving up to 30% in annual fuel and maintenance costs.

Based in Seattle, Blue North Fisheries (BNF) operates five fishing boats called “freezer long liners” in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska and one smaller seiner in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. BNF’s largest vessel is 180-feet long with a crew of 23, while its smaller seiner is 58-feet long with a crew of six. Established in 1983, BNF has grown to approximately 150 employees. It harvests and sells more than 20,000 metric tons of fish and fish products each year.

Challenge: To design a fishing vessel that delivers the most premium fish products for each measure of fuel burned in the most environmentally friendly, efficient and reliable way

BNF’s fishing fleet is out to sea most of the year, harvesting Pacific cod from ocean depths of up to 3,000 feet or more. Long line fishing uses a main line that can be many miles in length with many branch lines, each with a hand-baited hook.

Weather in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska is brutal more often than not. Waves up to 20 feet or more are constantly washing corrosive salt water over the decks of BNF’s older boats, some of which are WWII-vintage. Maintenance on the vessels can’t be deferred, but neither can they be at port too long, since they’re the source of the company’s product—and revenue. Still, with the harsh conditions they face, the boats are in constant need of maintenance and repair. And with their advanced age, those costs are only rising.

At the same time, the vessels’ diesel engines, which are also old, gulp fuel from tanks that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fill. With maintenance and fuel costs rising, BNF’s management decided the time had come to modernize their fleet. Even more, they decided to build one of the most environmentally friendly and technologically advanced fishing vessels in the world.

Solution: Anext-generation long lining fishing vessel with diesel-electric propulsion featuring a Siemens BLUEDRIVE SISHIP LV drive system

For their first new vessel, which will be christened the “Blue North,” BNF chose the 58.35 meter (191 feet) ST-155, a new long liner designed by Skipsteknisk AS,a Norwegian firm. Its center hull features a breakthrough fishing concept called a “internal hauling pool.” Inside this weather-protected enclosure, BNF’s crew will haul in the long line, reducing fish losses and enjoy much more safety, even in the worst weather.

According to BNF President and CEO Kenny Down, the new Blue North will not focus on catching more fish; instead, its onboard processing facility will use more of the fish that are caught.

That’s because it will employ more effective fishing methods along with faster, more efficient on-board processing of cod products. This provides fresher, better quality cod products for the nation’s leading food stores and their discerning customers, who are increasingly seeking environmentally sound and sustainable sources for their food.

"Present fishing practices are extremely wasteful and inefficient," Down says. "With our new vessel, we believe we can implement significant processing changes that will make considerable sustainability and efficiency differences."

To improve engine efficiency while reducing fuel costs and emissions, BNF elected to power their vessel with an ultra-compact, twin-bladed, dual-azimuth, diesel-electric propulsion (DEP)system. It’s the first fishing vessel in North America to incorporate Siemens BLUEDRIVE DEP technology.

Instead of using diesel engines to drive a propeller mechanically, DEP uses diesel generators to produce power that drives the vessel’s electric motors as well as its fish processing plant, freezers, lighting, heating and marine electronics. Thanks in part to the Siemens BLUEDRIVE DEP technology, and Caterpillar engines, the Blue North will be one of the first fishing vessels to meet new Tier III emissions standards set by the U.S. federal government. The Blue North’s propulsion design uses the well-proven technology of Siemens Marine & Shipbuilding to turn a Z–drive propeller directly, without the cost, space and maintenance required by excessive reduction gearing and long drive-shaft lines conventional long lining vessels use. The Siemens Power Management System combined with Siemens BLUEDRIVE VFD drive technology optimizes the vessel’s power efficiency, safety and reliability.

BNF’s decision favored the Siemens system over the competitor’s solution due to the Siemens technology, experience and reliability. It also resulted from a trusted advisor relationship that Siemens Marine Global Account Manager Luke Briant had cultivated with BNF over nearly three years. During this time, he helped the customer develop various propulsion designs with several naval architects and provided numerous calculations for BNF’s business models about reducing fuel and maintenance costs.

"Siemens BLUEDRIVE technology has been used in Norway’s fishing industry for the last 10 years," Briant explained. "BNF’s owners and CEO traveled to Norway to meet with Skipsteknisk AS and the Siemens Marine Center of Competency for LV propulsion in Norway. While there, BNF surveyed other long liners with Siemens BLUEDRIVE technology and saw for themselves that Siemens could deliver on the reliability and efficiency calculations we had worked through."

Results: Up to 30 percent fuel savings and overall reduction in OPEX and faster ROI—and a revolutionary model for the entire fishing industry

Briant estimates that the Blue North equipped with Siemens BLUEDRIVE technology will save up to 30 percent in fuel consumption. In addition, he says the total greenhouse gas emissions are much lower compared to vessels with direct-drive diesel propulsion or with alternative DEP systems. The Siemens BLUEDRIVE technology will also help BNF reduce its diesel engine maintenance costs compared to other DEP systems now on the market.

For BNF, the savings in fuel and maintenance costs will help improve profitability. Also, boosting profits will be the new vessel’s ability to process more of each fish that’s caught as well as selling once-discarded parts.

But in addition to increased profitability, Down points out, that BNF’s new vessel will enable it to provide a better quality product to stores and their customers. "Through grocery retailers," he said, "we’ll sell our fish to environmentally conscious consumers who know they’re buying a quality product that’s from a low-impact, sustainable, monitored and regulated fishery."

"Ultimately, by having a vessel with such a small carbon footprint, BNF will deliver by weight the most high quality cod products with the least fuel consumed of any long lining vessel operating in North America today," Briant said.

"Once the Blue North is launched — with its Siemens BLUEDRIVE propulsion technology, Z drive propellers, high-end processing and fishing equipment, habitability standards and overall cutting edge design from Skipsteknisk AS — it will be the ultimate standard in long lining vessels in North America and possibly worldwide."

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