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Wednesday, May 12, 2021 

Damen Marine Components (DMC) is to provide steering and propulsion equipment for an innovative shallow-draught inland waterway tanker that is being built for BASF and Stolt Tankers.

The vessel will be equipped with three manoeuvring systems and a total of seven rudders, which is considered unique in the industry. The tanker has a lightweight shallow water design, allowing the vessel to remain operational at very shallow water levels. The hull form is equipped with three manoeuvring systems: an outer systems consisting 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 at any time. 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 is supplying custom-made control and steering systems.

Leo van Zon, Area Sales Manager DMC, 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 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, 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 135m and a width of 17.5m, it will be considerably larger than most other tankers on the 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 Maickel Uijtewaal, GM inland shipping, Stolt Tankers. “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.”

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