Same again please – Wärtsilä helps shipbuilder deliver sister ship for world-class UAE-based dredger

A Wärtsilä integrated propulsion system delivers the powerful thrust, manoeuvrability and dynamic positioning needed in demanding dredging operations.

When Dutch shipbuilder Royal IHC received an order for a larger version of a trailing suction hopper dredger that they had delivered three years earlier to the United Arab Emirates' National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC), they again turned to Wärtsilä to help. Working closely with the yard enabled a successful delivery that also helped further strengthen the relationship between IHC and NMDC.


NMDC is a partly state-owned dredging company based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, that runs a large fleet of dredgers and support vessels. In 2018 they took delivery of the trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) Arzana from IHC, featuring engines, transverse thrusters, a controllable pitch propeller system and related equipment from Wärtsilä. TSHDs are specialist vessels equipped with powerful pumps and engines and are used, for example, to suck sand, clay, silt and gravel from the seabed to maintain channels or for land reclamation projects. The Arzana is primarily deployed for the creation of artificial islands that are used in oil and gas exploration projects. 


A hard act to follow

NMDC was so impressed with the Arzana that when they needed a second TSHD they knew exactly who to call. The new vessel, the Ghasha, is based on the successful original, though with a hopper capacity of 8,000 m3 instead of 6,000 m3 and a dredging depth of up to 45 m instead of 35 m. To enable crew and parts to be shared and rotated between the two vessels, NMDC wanted the new ship’s equipment to be identical to the first one. While this was largely achieved, it was not always possible. “Component improvements and changes in suppliers in the intervening years meant that some expertise from the technical support team was needed to find parts that were as close a match as possible when identical ones were not available,” explains Dick Heidelberg, General Manager, Services at Wärtsilä.

The engines, however, were not hard to find. The Ghasha’s two W32 main engines and related auxiliaries were the same as the Arzana’s and chosen for their small footprint and weight combined with high power. “These engines were originally selected for the Arzana because NMDC had been so happy with the reliability, component quality and flexibility of the W38 engine type, which they have around 10 of across five dredgers. The W32 engines have exceeded their expectations, particularly in relation to their high efficiency and low specific fuel-oil consumption, which translates into a lower cost of ownership in the long term,” relates Arnoud Banda, Senior Project Manager, Marine Power Solutions at Wärtsilä.

Because of the nature of their work, these kinds of vessels must be able to accurately maintain course and speed, so selecting exactly the right propulsor combination is critical. “The Wärtsilä controllable pitch propeller system and transverse thrusters selected for the Ghasha deliver the combination of high thrust, dynamic positioning and manoeuvrability needed to maintain an accurate heading, ensuring efficient dredging operations,” explains Arnoud.

“We have a great deal of trust in the performance of Wärtsilä’s engines and propulsion equipment, which we have installed in several vessels in our fleet. This, together with the fact that Wärtsilä has a strong local presence with a large service and support network, mean that we can have total confidence in the long-term performance and efficiency of the Ghasha. 

- Eng. Mohamed Elsayed Abrahim, Technical Director, NMDC


Strong collaboration and local presence

Wärtsilä delivered all the necessary components on time and on budget. “Despite some challenges in finding compatible parts, everything went very smoothly, with regular reports and open communication being key. IHC has a lot of experience collaborating with Wärtsilä and we know and appreciate each other’s ways of working,” explains Heidelberg. “Optimising the engines and propeller set up and integrating the systems was a real team effort. We also optimised the engines for working in the intense heat of the UAE and installed additional chillers in the engine control cabinets.”

Beyond the hardware, Sandeep Padhi, Sales Manager at Wärtsilä, explains that there are other benefits for NMDC: “By choosing the same components as the original vessel it’s very easy to update the existing Spares and Service Supply agreement, and service is, of course, very important. Wärtsilä has a strong presence in the region, with a 10,000 m2 workshop that can overhaul engines and a workforce of over 300 that includes support and procurement experts as well as highly experienced field engineers.

“The integrated system delivered by Wärtsilä ensures reliability and reduces complexity for NMDC because servicing and support can all be taken care of by a single supplier. It also supports the shared parts approach with the Arzana that NMDC required,” Padhi continues. “Looking longer term, we’ve also installed a Wärtsilä Data Collection Unit on the Ghasha, meaning that should NMDC choose, we can enable Wärtsilä Expert Insight without needing any additional hardware, software or tools. Expert Insight uses artificial intelligence and advanced diagnostics to enable predictive maintenance, solving problems before they occur and reducing vessel downtime.”

Wärtsilä is also helping to keep NMDC’s personnel up to date on how to ensure optimal operation of their new equipment. “All NMDC’s management-level technical personnel have visited the Wärtsilä Land and Sea Academy in the Netherlands to receive training on our engines and propulsion systems,” adds Heidelberg. 

“For a shipbuilder it is important to have strategic partners on which we can rely. The sales opportunity for Ghasha was based on an extremely short time between contract and delivery. When such an opportunity comes along, it’s all about collaboration, reliable short delivery times and open communication and service. Royal IHC was able to deliver Ghasha to NMDC on time, despite the challenges of COVID-19 with the support of Wartsila as our appreciated partner. The vessel is working uninterrupted and efficiently, thereby surpassing already high expectations. 

- Sander Kok, Director Project management ROYAL IHC


Written by
Ian Hamilton

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