Expertise, speed and an unusual solution help the fishing vessel Madrus return to action for the end of the season

After a fire onboard fishing vessel Madrus, speed was of the essence in retrofitting the propulsion control system in time for the end of the season.

When a fire in the engine control room of the fishing vessel Madrus threatened to keep the boat out of action for the rest of the fishing season, owners Atlantikaromas contacted Wärtsilä for help. With speed being of the essence, Wärtsilä experts in the Netherlands, Portugal and Canada came up with a surprising solution that quickly had the boat ready to drop its nets once again.


Portuguese company Atlantikaromas owns a fleet of five fishing vessels and operates in both the North and South Atlantic. In April 2020 the Madrus was fishing in the North Atlantic when it was disabled by an engine control room fire that destroyed the controls and switchboard. The vessel had to be towed to the nearest port, in St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Atlantikaromas, who are familiar Wärtsilä’s service in Portugal, called and explained the situation.

“Luckily, we have a worldwide network of experts that our customers can rely on in cases like this, so we were able to help with local engineers backed up by global ingenuity.

- Tim Lathouwers, Propulsion Sales Manager, Wärtsilä Netherlands.


An usual assignment

Ingenuity, and a little luck, was exactly what was required as this was anything but a straightforward case. Neither the propulsion control system nor the engine was Wärtsilä equipment, and the vessel needed to be repaired as quickly as possible if it was going to be ready to catch any more fish that season. “It’s not every day that you change equipment from one provider to another. It’s a sign of the trust the customer had in us and in our capability to do this,” explains Filipe Mineiro, Product Sales Manager at Wärtsilä Iberica. After realising that sourcing and installing a new propulsion control system using traditional processes would likely not be fast enough in this case, the team hit upon an original solution. As the case coincided with the start of the Covid pandemic, the standardised demonstration control system used for training at the Wärtsilä Land and Sea Academy was not in use. As luck would have it, the equipment would not only be a perfect fit for the Madrus, but it could also be quickly dismantled and transported to St John’s, where local Wärtsilä engineers were on hand to take care of installation and commissioning. “The fact that we could not travel during the first Covid peak was a huge issue, and we had to follow strict guidelines to keep the installation team safe. But the engineers who attended the vessel were, of course, 100% professional and did a tremendous job; the whole process went very smoothly and was completed on time,” says Adriano Almeida, Branch Manager at Wärtsilä Portugal.


Trust and teamwork help save the season

Throughout the process, Wärtsilä’s experts in Spain and Portugal stayed in constant contact with both the client and the installation team to make sure everything went smoothly. Although performing complex retrofits of this nature is nothing new for the team, it’s quite unusual to have to integrate Wärtsilä control systems with third-party equipment – and to have to do it on such a tight schedule. “We’re proud that the customer put their trust in our expertise and engineering capabilities to help them out of an unfortunate situation and pleased that we were able to help them get the Madrus back out on the water in time to catch the end of North Atlantic fishing season,” says Adriano.

We can only say good things about the installation, the technician and the entire Wärtsilä team that helped us to overcome these added difficulties after the fire.

- José Taveira da Mota, Managing Director, Atlantikaromas

“Retrofitting a propulsion control system is difficult when you have to integrate the current system with obsolete equipment, but as soon as the Wärtsilä technician gathered all the necessary information onboard the ship, the entire process went very well. It was a difficult process, but all obstacles were overcome with little effort, as the technician in charge was very capable.

In the first sea trials everything was ok with the system, in terms of both safety and operation. Whereas normally it’s necessary to make a lot of adjustments, in this case it wasn't. We can only say good things about the installation, the technician and the entire Wärtsilä team that helped us to overcome these added difficulties after the fire.” says José Taveira da Mota, Managing Director, Atlantikaromas

Written by
Charlie Bass

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