Damen Marine Components (DMC) is making a special contribution to the innovative inland waterway tanker that is being built for BASF and Stolt Tankers
The tanker has a lightweight shallow-water design, allowing the vessel to remain operational even at very shallow water levels. The hull form is uniquely equipped with seven rudders as part of three manoeuvring systems to cope with manoeuvring in shallow water.
The outer systems consist of a Van der Velden three-rudder system with a Van der Velden FLEX tunnel in front, both on the left and right. These flexible tunnels are integrated into the hull and can be deployed and retracted.
When deployed, they optimise the water flow to the propellers. If the water depth is sufficient, the tunnels are superfluous and they will be retracted. The centre manoeuvring system has a single rudder to improve course stability.
DMC area sales manager Leo van Zon said, “The design has shown that the outer drive trains have to do their job with a small propeller diameter at shallow draught. DMC has chosen a solution for this in which the original Van der Velden three-rudder system compensates for the lack of rudder surface at this small propeller diameter that is offered with a normal propeller size drive and rudder system. The seven rudders in combination with the FLEX tunnels make it a unique ship.”
The ship design was conceived and developed on behalf of BASF by DST Duisburg, the inland shipping research institute that also developed the FLEX tunnel system with DMC.
Shipping company Stolt Tankers, one of the largest chemical carriers in the world, will be the owner of the vessel and operate it exclusively for BASF. Stolt has asked project developer Mercurius Shipping Group to build the ship. The tanker is planned to be commissioned by the end of 2022.
The new tanker has a high carrying capacity and with a length of 135 m and a width of 17.5 m, and will be considerably larger than most other tankers on the River Rhine. The ship will be fitted with 10 stainless steel cargo tanks for the transport of chemicals and be powered by three electric motors.
The development of this innovative design was prompted by the shallow draught on the Rhine at the end of 2018, which compromised the supply of raw materials to BASF in Ludwigshafen. “The predictions are that water levels will become increasingly erratic,” said Stolt Tankers’ general manager of inland shipping, Maickel Uijtewaal. “All this is in response to expected shallow water levels in the future. It’s fantastic to be able to realise such a unique project together.”