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Passenger Ship Technology

Expedition cruise ships: introducing new technology

Mon 04 Mar 2019 by Rebecca Moore

Expedition cruise ships: introducing new technology
Ponant's icebreaker is built on the double-acting principle, allowing it to navigate stern first as well (credit:Ponant/Stirling Design International)

Expedition cruise newbuilds are deploying some of the most innovative and green technology within the cruise sector

The fast-growing expedition cruise sector is playing an important role in introducing new technology that will be embraced throughout the cruise ship sector.

Examples include SunStone Ships’ expedition cruise ships currently being built at China Merchant Heavy Industries (CMHI) yard. They feature ‘firsts’ in technology, including Ulstein Design & Solutions’ X-Bow hull design, never before seen in a cruise ship. Due to the technology used, the X-bow doesn’t slam and brake in bad weather like a conventional design, meaning it is more fuel efficient and boosts passenger comfort.

SunStone Ships is also leading the way for Chinese yards to build cruise ships. By learning to build small expedition cruise ships, they can use those skills to build larger ships in this sector.

Ponant’s newbuild icebreaker under construction is also deploying technology new to the cruise sector.

Ponant’s LNG dual-fuel icebreaker has a “very stunning” icebreaking performance, the ship’s hull and technical designer Aker Arctic told PST.

Ponant’s Le Commandant Charcot, currently being built at Vard shipyard and due to be delivered in 2021, is the world’s first cruise ship to be built to PC2-class as an icebreaker. It is also the first expedition cruise ship to use dual-fuel LNG.

Aker Arctic sales manager and master mariner Jukka Salminen said “It is the heaviest diesel-electric  icebreaker in the world for the time being.”

Highlighting some of the challenges he said “There are different rules when thinking about passenger vessels compared to cargo vessels, like passenger comfort, and safety and safe return to port.” He said the challenge is that in the Poles there are little in way of rescue, repair yard facilities or ports.

“We tested the harshest ice conditions in our own ice tank,” he said, with a conclusion being that the vessel can safely navigate in the polar regions and also return to port with just a single thruster. It is equipped with two PC2 class ABB 17-megawatt twin Azipods, giving 34 megawatts of total propulsion power.

Mr Salminen said “It has a very stunning icebreaking performance bow ahead with an icebreaking performance of 2.5 m.” The vessel is built on the double-acting principle, meaning that in heavier ice conditions it can navigate stern first. This is the first time the double-acting principle has been used in a cruise ship.

He explained “The double-acting principle was initially designed for oil tankers in early 1990s which were built for the Gulf of Finland.”

In an tanker the bow can be designed as the optimum bow for open water while the stern is designed for icebreaking. “The bow is more open water friendly as a conventional icebreaker to avid slamming and resistance, while the icebreaking is done by the stern,” Mr Salminen said. Using the stern as the icebreaker boosts passenger comfort.

The double-acting principle means there are two bridges, as one is needed for navigating stern-first.

Commenting on the use of LNG, he said “Green values are important when operating in a fragile environment, Ponant wanted as green a vessel as possible so LNG was chosen as a primary source, with low sulphur maritime diesel.”

The vessel will also use batteries to provide the hotel load when it has stopped to observe something of interest, allowing the main engines to be turned off and the vessel to be silent, with no vibration. 

 

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