The world’s first hybrid-powered removable icebreaking bow demonstrates its capabilities, while a new generation of icebreakers is being designed
Alfons Håkans has passed a major milestone, using the world’s first hybrid-driven removable bow on one of its tugs to break thick ice in Finland.
It worked with several partners to attach icebreaking bow Saimaa on its tug Calypso to create sea lanes for shipping through thick winter ice.
Together they have formed routes through seasonal ice on Lake Saimaa and the deep waterways of the surrounding area for cargo ships to voyage through.
Saimaa is working for Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (FTIA) in a European Union co-funded €7.6M (US$9.2M) scheme, under a 10-year charter. It operates out of Mustola harbour in Lappeenranta but has applications around other Finnish ports and along ice-prone shipping routes.
In January 2021, Saimaa assisted 1993-built, Gibraltar-flagged dry cargo ship Pinta across Lake Saimaa. According to Automatic Identification System data, Pinta traded between Vysotsk, Russia to Mustola and Joensuu in Finland during that period.
Saimaa is the first hybrid motorised removable bow. It was designed by ILS Ship Design & Engineering and powered by Danfoss Editron. This attachable icebreaker bow has an overall length of 25.3 m, moulded breadth of 12.6 m and moulded depth of 3.4 m.
It was delivered by Turku Repair Yard as part of the Winter Navigation Motorways of the Sea II project.
Saimaa was constructed to enable ice-strengthened vessels to break up to 80-cm thick ice at 2 knots to keep key maritime routes open in the northern hemisphere winter. It could break 40 cm of level ice in inland waterways at a speed of 6 knots.
ILS general manager Kristian Lehtonen says the removable bow has applications in other regions. “This novel technology is something that enables operations in ice-infested areas, which some are very interested in,” he says.
Danfoss Editron’s hybrid-electric system powers the removable bow with two generators built as a DC (direct current) system, and two propulsion systems. These are augmented with a front supercapacitor so peak power can be efficiently controlled.
This system is managed through Editron software to reduce fuel and deliver higher efficiencies as the diesel generators in the DC system can be driven at variable speeds.
The removable bow’s power plant and propulsion system are operated from the pusher tug wheelhouse, while the machinery can operate unmanned.
Saimaa is attached to tug Calypso with an ACM-Trading Pushpin articulated tug-barge (ATB) coupler system. Mr Lehtonen says it only takes around 15 minutes to connect and disconnect the tug and the bow.
The PushPin coupler has a connecting axle that allows an ATB tug and barge to pitch individually around a common axle. It can be used on a variety of barges and in operational areas such as inland, coastal, offshore and non-restricted sailing areas. It has pneumatic, hydraulic or mechanical driving systems and lateral movement-preventing units. The PushPin socket plate structure can be a notch or modular system and can be steel cast for low weight and size.
Alfons Håkans has more icebreaking tugs coming this year, as Sanmar Shipyards is building two 32-m long, ice-class vessels. The first of these was launched in December 2020.
These will be used for harbour towage in Finnish ports and for ice management in the northern Baltic Sea and Gulf of Bothnia.
The azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs are built to Robert Allan’s TundRA 3200 design at Sanmar’s Altinova Shipyard in Turkey with strengthened hulls to meet Ice Class 1A rules, and will achieve 65 tonnes of bollard pull. Classed by Bureau Veritas as escort tugs, they have green passports from the EU.
Inside these two TundRA 3200 tugs will be a pair of Caterpillar 3512C main engines, each developing 2,000 kW of power at 1,600 rpm coupled to Kongsberg Z-drive thrusters type US 255P30, fitted with 260-cm diameter controllable-pitch propellers in nozzles. Both tugs will have two Caterpillar C7.1 generator sets, each rated at 118 kW.
On the deck will be a Palfinger hydraulic telescopic knuckle-boom crane. The structure will be reinforced for future installation of a 60-tonne crane and there will be deck space for a container and other small cargo transfers.
Also in Scandinavia, Finland’s FTIA and Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) have set out their requirements for new icebreakers to escort larger ships while emitting less greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions.
They require larger vessels with greater power than existing icebreakers because the size of merchant ships entering Finnish and Swedish ports is rising, and increasing environmental requirements are gradually limiting the engine power of these ships.
Together, FTIA and SMA contracted Aker Arctic to design this new generation of icebreakers to assist ships with beams of up to 32 m. Featuring the latest environmental technologies for cost-effective operations and low lifecycle costs, they will be able to transition to fossil-free fuels by 2030.
SMA director-general Katarina Norén says these vessels will break ice for more than four months of the year. “The Swedish industry is dependent on icebreaking in the Baltic Sea up to 130 days a year,” she says.
“Our current fleet is old and increasingly needs repairs. Therefore, we look forward to the design of the next generation of icebreakers to service larger ships in a fossil-free environment.”
FTIA director-general Kari Wihlman explains the importance of keeping Finnish ports open to dock larger ships. “An adequate level of assistance available from icebreakers is a prerequisite for ensuring the raw materials and different products are in the right place at the right time,” he says. “New solutions are expected from this design project to respond to changes in the operating environment as well as to maintain an adequate level of service in the future.”
The design process starts with researching and evaluating alternative icebreaker concepts.
“This new ship will represent a completely new generation of icebreakers,” says Aker Arctic managing director Reko-Antti Suojanen. “It will incorporate design, construction and operational experience from existing Baltic assistance icebreakers as well as our other icebreaker designs.”
In March 2021, a concept will be selected when the first cost estimates for the construction of the icebreaker are available. Mr Suojanen says these icebreakers could be operated for up to 50 years so “the new icebreaker must be designed to comply with future emissions goals”.
From Q2 2021, the focus of this project will be on the design details and construction specifications, which will form the basis of the shipyard tendering process once a decision to build the icebreakers is made.
Davie adds partners to Canadian Polar icebreaker programme
Davie Shipbuilding has added GE’s Power Conversion business, Vard and Serco as partners in its Polar icebreaker programme, as it builds a new fleet under the Canadian National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).
Canada’s existing Polar-class icebreakers are more than 40 years old and require replacement.
Davie is ready to begin work on these new 150-m Polar icebreakers using its 351-m Champlain drydock. Their construction complements other Davie programmes, such as the six Program icebreakers it is already building under the NSS.
Polar icebreakers will have GE integrated electrical propulsion and power systems, including Seajet podded propulsion units. These have a power range of 7.5-15 MW with an electric motor housed in the hull-mounted pod and directly connected to the propellor.
Davie expects to announce more partners later in Q1 2021 covering steel production and critical systems.
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