Design that holds its value

Bigger, better and more fuel-efficient designs are among the trends that Wärtsilä is establishing with its latest vessels.


Heading up Wärtsilä’s ship design project management and engineering team is director Andrea Morgante. He and his team have delivered the company’s most ambitious projects in recent years and noted first-hand the shift in design trends.

For instance platform supply vessels (PSVs), like the trusty VS 485 model in its latest incarnation, now measure in at over 90 metres in length and boast a loading area in excess of 1000 square metres. The original ship, launched a decade ago, was 85 metres in length and offered consequently less cargo space, although it was already among the biggest at the time.

“We are now seeing a trend towards bigger platform supply vessels. This is influenced by the fact that drilling operations are going on farther away from the shore in deeper waters. As a result the type of vessel required needs to be able to cover a bigger distance,” says Morgante.

The emphasis on the crew now plays an increasingly heightened role in the overall design process too. For example the Ocean Art, a platform supply vessel of design Wärtsilä VS 485 Mk III L, will have a crew of 15 onboard who can expect to be away at sea for long stretches.

“The focus on the human side beyond the safety aspect is becoming increasingly important,” says Morgante.

“For our designs operating in the North Sea we have applied the highest standards to improve the comfort class notation. Reducing noise and vibration levels is vital as lots of studies show that a more rested crew performs better and, crucially, is less likely to cause an accident.”

Comfy as a cruise ship

Introducing innovative structural solutions to contain the vibrations generated by the tunnel thrusters, as well as attention to minor details, means that many PSV designs now have comfort levels approaching those of cruise ships.

Keeping the crew happy and rested is even more paramount as the new breed of increasingly sophisticated rigs require more advanced platform supply vessels.

In the latest annual report compiled by offshore service vessel giant Tidewater, the American company stated that “crew costs will likely continue to increase as competition for skilled personnel intensifies.”

That sentiment has had a knock-on effect and influenced more user-friendly ship designs in the PSV sector.

“Complex vessels need a more specialised crew who are less available for hire, so you have to make a difference in order to attract them. Certainly the North Sea is ahead of any other market in focusing on the crew experience and well-being.”

Spectacular looks

One Wärtsilä-designed vessel currently operating in the North Sea is the Ocean Art PSV. She was specially designed for Atlantic Offshore to fit the tender requirements specified by Statoil.

While the Ocean Art has generated a lot of media attention for its street art paint job, done by street artist Mariusz Waras, under the skin the ship is bristling with innovative modern design features to ensure that it satisfies the criteria laid down by the client.

“The tender requirements were very demanding with respect to deck size, under-deck cargo capacities as well as low fuel consumption and minimal environmental impact,” says Ove Wilhelmsen, Director of Offshore & Special Design Solutions at Wärtsilä Ship Design.

Together with its sister ship the Ocean Star, it includes the Wärtsilä ECOmeter, a high-tech feature which allows the operator to optimise the vessel’s fuel consumption and also enables the generators to run more efficiently.

“Both ships are quite modern in the sense that they emit very low emissions and also have low fuel consumption. All the lights on these vessels are LED and they both have a sophisticated automatic cargo securing system,” says Roy Wareberg, CEO of Atlantic Offshore.

“They can handle the waves well, which is important for the type of work a PSV needs to carry out. Both are equipped with the most high-tech equipment currently on the market.”

Most efficient on the market

Factoring in environmental concerns without compromising performance is now a given, not just for the latest range of PSV ships, but for other Wärtsilä designs coming out of the drawing room too.

Take for instance the latest Aframax tanker, which is available in three configurations; basic, environmental and dual-fuel. The new oil tankers are expected to come onstream in 2016 and will live up to the grand statement that Wärtsilä has invested in them.

“For the Aframax we did extensive research to be able to state that it is the most efficient vessel on the market in that class. A lot of work was put into CFD (computational fluid dynamics) analysis and tank testing to ensure that our statement was based on facts,” says Inge Skaar, Naval Architecture and Project Development director for Wärtsilä Ship Design.

Two other Wärtsilä designs earning plaudits for their overall performance merits are the pipe-laying vessels (PLV) Top Estrela do Mar and Top Coral do Atlântico. Both were recently delivered to the Brazilian oil and gas company Odebrecht, and will be working on a long-term charter in South American waters for oil giant Petrobras.

Indeed the design of the Estrela do Mar was immediately put to the test on its maiden voyage. On its way from Korea, where the ship was built, to Brazil, it encountered a typhoon. But the vessel sailed through without any problems.

Estrela de Mar’s sleek appearance leads to savings in fuel.

“The shape of the ship is very aerodynamic, especially the front. Sometimes the ships are tested in a wind tunnel using a model to find further gains. For this particular design the body lines have been designed to give improved fuel consumption in order to meet the stringent requirements set down by the customer,” says Solesvik.

Value for years to come

Going forward, the head of Wärtsilä’s ship design execution team has forecast that PSV designs are unlikely to get bigger and that oil prices will have an impact on the offshore industry.

“We’ve reached the stage where PSVs are at their maximum size. We’ll probably see more of the current larger sizes of 90 metres being built in general. Of course when it comes to new buildings you have to factor in the fuel price as the cost of the barrel drives investment in new field exploration and developments,” says Morgante.

Regardless of how the economy fluctuates he expects business to remain brisk for Wärtsilä Ship Design due to the reputation the company has established in the market.

“You can maximise profits for the owner by introducing successful designs to the market that will become an asset. It’s not just making a good design but creating one that will be recognised. Our designs preserve their value year after year,” Morgante concludes.


Maiden voyage with a twist

Brazilian oil and gas company Ode­brecht took delivery of the PLV last September just two months after getting a hold of its sister vessel, Coral Do Atlântico. The high-tech ships will work on advanced operations in the emerging South American market.

However, in order to reach Brazil the Estrela Do Mar had to overcome some hostile weather between Korea, where the ship was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, and the Philippines where it completed deepwater trials.

“Along the way the vessel went through a typhoon which was passing through the area. When the crew gave their feedback on the choppy conditions they described the vessel as being ‘very comfortable’,” says Wärtsilä’s Øystein Solesvik.

Built To Cope

Solesvik, project manager at Wärtsilä Ship Design, says the modern PLV is designed to cope with such scenarios.

“What’s important is setting the limits for the ship’s acceleration, and this is something that is analysed from the very start of the design process. If the weather is very bad and the accelerations are too high then the pipelaying operations will have to be stopped,” says Solesvik.

In order to estimate the accelerations, Wärtsilä’s designers simulate various sea states using a software tool. Then a model version of the vessel, such as the Estrela Do Mar, is tested in the water at a research facility in the Netherlands.

“This vessel has a large tower and carousel so when it’s moving in the waves the forces acting from the tower to the structure of the hull depend on how high the accelerations are,” says Solesvik.

Steady As She Goes

Ultimately the stability of the vessel depends on its metacentric height (GM) in relation to the hull form and vertical centre of gravity of the ship. If the GM is too low then the ship’s motions will be smooth but it will still be unstable, while a high GM translates into a stiff vessel. A negative GM will cause the ship to capsise.

“We devote a lot of time to ensuring that the GM figures are optimised for every type of vessel together with the acceleration analysis. The vessels have to be fit for purpose before being delivered to the customer,” says Solesvik.

 He adds, “During extreme weather the ship goes into survival mode. There isn’t any pipelaying done then but it should be okay to be on the vessel. You don’t want to leave the milk on the table in the mess room but things should be able to carry on as normal. The performance of Estrela do Mar is a good example of our designers getting it right.”

After emerging from the typhoon unscathed the Estrela do Mar has since begun operations in Brazil.

Art at sea

A ship, a street artist and the unpredictable Norwegian weather isn’t a combination you would initially pair together. On paper the line-up may seem an odd mix, but it is the story behind one of the most talked-about vessel launches in years.

Since being unveiled at the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) exhibition in Stavanger last August, the Ocean Art platform supply vessel has generated a publicity storm for its owner Atlantic Offshore. What’s piqued the curiosity of the mainstream press is the ship’s spectacular artwork which adorns the bow of this Wärtsilä design.

“Having art painted on one of our ships was something we discussed in the boardroom for several years. We just weren’t sure how to go about it until we found the right artist,” says Roy Wareberg, CEO of Atlantic Offshore.

Cutting out stencils

The man entrusted with the task was renowned Polish stencil artist Mariusz Waras, better known as M-City. In the past Waras has painted on the Stavanger airport control tower as well as a Formula 1 car, but a huge platform supply ship was another task altogether.

So began a meticulous dialogue between Atlantic Offshore and M-City. Detailed ship drawings and 3D images of the Ocean Art were sent to Poland, while the artist himself built a scale model of the bow.

Creating the intricate patterns that feature on the bow required a significant amount of preparation from M-City, who spent months cutting out all the stencils at his studio, which coincidentally is located in an old shipyard.

“The total weight of all of the stencils was around 70 kilograms which we then shipped to Norway. When I got there I saw the ship just once before we began creating the artwork. We were a bit worried about the weather but it turned out fine,” says Waras.

M-City and his team had four days to paint the vessel and the pressure was on. Ocean Art was created before a live audience with the artists working round the clock at a public space in the harbour.

“I organised two teams to work simultaneously on two lifts. From the start I painted the shapes and the team filled in the colours, while I did the stencil part alone.

“For the backgrounds I used a special boat paint and the stencil part was done using regular spray paints. Atlantic Offshore later added a few layers of varnish,” says Waras.

Popular in social media

The end result was revealed at the end of ONS to an audience of over 60,000 people. The vessel’s eye-catching artwork became a hit on social media and attracted the interest of international press.

It also came with the approval of Atlantic Offshore which commissioned the original project.

“The artwork on Ocean Art highlights us and Western Norway, where we are situated, in a good way as it features mountains, snow and industry. And of course it looks beautiful and quite unusual on the ship itself,” concludes Roy Wareberg, CEO of Atlantic Offshore.

Ocean Art has since commenced a 6+3 year contract with Statoil, for services in the North Sea.


Wärtsilä Ship Design


Ocean Art 

Video Ocean ART

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