Abeking & Rasmussen shipyard is ready to enter the cruise market with innovative designs using fuel cells and SWATH technology
German shipyard Abeking & Rasmussen (A&R) has entered the cruise ship sector with innovative designs including one that will use fuel cells.
The shipyard is designing a ‘green cruise’ concept that will use fuel cells with the aim to be as free of emissions as possible. The 100-passenger capacity cruise ship is being designed upon the request of a customer – but the shipyard is keen to use the basic concept for other cruise operators too.
A&R naval architect and sales director, special vessels, Nils Olschner told PST that the fuel cells would be used to provide power demand for the hotel load and generate power to drive the ship up to a speed of 12 knots.
Mr Olschner said “Fuel cells need hydrogen and hydrogen is difficult to store, so we decided to go for fuel cells fed by hydrogen stored in LOHC, Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier. This means that each fuel cell has a reformer, and we set up the LOHC to each reformer, which will release hydrogen out of the LOHC and provide this for the fuel cells.”
The cruise ship design has a “private yacht feeling on board” and is designed for passengers that have a “high demand for luxury and comfort and at the same time wouldn’t feel comfortable in spoiling the environment”.
Mr Olschner said that “as soon as the customer is ready”, the shipyard will build the vessel.
As well as this concept, A&R also has an expedition liner concept that it developed a few years previously, in 2016. It has launched Luxury Cruising, a 95 m boutique ship concept for 166 passengers in 83 suites with private balconies, some of which have their own forward-facing secluded terraces.
This represents the yard’s first foray into the luxury expedition cruise market. This concept deploys SWATH technology, which underpins the yard’s ship construction work.
This small waterplane area twin hull – SWATH – technology boosts passenger comfort by reducing the motion of the vessel.
The design is based on what the shipyard calls SWATH@A&R technology – it has taken the SWATH technology concept and developed it further. The typical shape of the design radically minimises motion on board, to a quarter of the level of conventional ships.
Mr Olschner explained “The buoyancy – the volume that is carrying the vessel structure – is taken below the waterline, so it is removed from the energy and not excited by waves. If it is not excited, then it does not move. This means that it offers the comfort of a much bigger vessel, of 200m or 250m in length.”
While this technology has been around since the 1930s, Mr Olschner said: “We have taken the technology to a new level. No other shipyard has built so many SWATH vessels of so many different sizes.” The yard has built and has on its orderbook a total of 26 vessels in five different sizes with SWATH hulls. It has been applying this technology to hulls since 1999 and has patented some parts of it. One example is the shape of the struts – the arrangement of the connecting parts between the lower hulls and the actual platform of the vessel.
Mr Olschner compared the design to that of a catamaran – but with one crucial difference. “In a catamaran there are two hulls, but the volume of the ship is at the surface of the water.” With a SWATH vessel there are two hulls, too, but the volume is located below the water level.
With the exception of Radisson Diamond, a SWATH cruise ship built for Diamond Cruise and launched in 1991, this technology is new to the cruise sector.
Elsewhere, other features of A&R’s cruise concept include that the propulsion plant can be diesel-direct or diesel-electric or even fuel cell-electric – whatever the application requires. The engines are down in the hulls, far away from the accommodation where noise would be a problem.
The shipyard has been in existence since 1907. Starting with a 3m dinghy, it has built a wide range of vessels, spanning sailing boats, motor yachts and car ferries, and its orderbook now amounts to 6,509 vessels. Recently its main focus has been on the private motor yacht sector.
The cruise tender market is another area that the shipyard is keen to enter. A&R has built 18 pilot tenders to serve large cargo ships on high seas. Despite the rough seas in which these vessels operate, there has not been a single accident since the yard launched its first tender in 1999.
Mr Olschner said: “It is really safe to carry out boarding at sea with these vessels. The big cruise companies use these tenders when cruise vessels are lying at anchor.” A&R has prepared a concept design for the cruise ship sector.
Explaining why the shipyard has decided to step into the cruise ship sector, Mr Olschner said: “We specialise in niche markets, and our observation is that when standard passenger vessels are growing in capacity, there must be a niche market for smaller, more individual vessels.”
A&R identified the luxury expedition cruise sector as a growing, niche market that it could target, due to the shipyard’s growth and being able to start building larger vessels.
Indeed, the yard has recently been building some of the largest motor yachts that it has ever undertaken, constructing vessels of up to 120m in length.
Mr Olschner said: “We have introduced methods which can best be compared with assembly lines in the automotive industry. For example, the actual construction work is completely detached from the logistics part, enabling us to react very fast on the spot to improve the production flow.”
This had ensured that the shipyard is ready to enter the luxury cruise sector.
Nils Olschner (Abeking & Rasmussen)
Nils Olschner studied at the University of Applied Sciences in Kiel qualifying as a naval architect. While studing, he worked at several different shipyards as an intern.
Mr Olschner worked in the projects department at the Lindenau Werft in Kiel, Germany, before joining Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, where he project managed the design of specialised ships, mainly cruise ships and large ferries.
He has been sales director special vessels at Abeking & Rasmussen since 2003.