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Tuesday, March 31, 2020 

Rolls-Royce has been contracted to supply an innovative propulsion system for two new multi-purpose vessels which will operate in the North and Baltic Seas; the contract includes an option for a third ship.

The gas-shielded propulsion system will enable the vessels to remain operational even under potentially explosive conditions. The 95m special ships are being built for the German Federal Waterway and Shipping Administration by Abeking & Rasmussen. They are intended for call-out on the North and Baltic Seas to deal with accidents, fires or unable-to-manoeuvre vessels, and will replace two older craft.

The two ships are powered by gas-electric propulsion systems based on four medium-speed Bergen B36:45L6AG units from Rolls-Royce, each delivering 3,600kW. Rolls-Royce has developed a gas protection system to allow the engines to remain operational even if, for example, the ambient air has been contaminated with explosive gases following a gas tanker accident.

"Obviously the engines are there to burn gas, but if gas gets into the combustion chamber in an uncontrolled way via the intake air, the engine will become unmanageable," said Rolls-Royce project manager Christian Prinz. With the protection system, the engine power output is adjusted in relation to the amount of gas in the intake air. In short, the more gas there is in the intake air of the engine, the less gas fuel is fed to the engine via the gas control valves. If the gas volume is too high, quick-acting flaps shut off the intake of gas and air and the engine comes to a stop.

"With these ships, we’ve combined the decades of experience we have under our belt in the field of medium-speed gas engines from Rolls-Royce with our highly specialised gas protection expertise to create an effective solution for our customer," said Knut Müller, VP Marine, Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce claims to be the only manufacturer worldwide able to supply engines of this power with gas protection and the relevant certification. "Rolls-Royce was the only manufacturer worldwide able to utilise its long-standing experience in this specialised field and develop gas protection for straightforward gas engines, all in line with our schedule requirements and backed up by the relevant feasibility study," said Carsten S Wibel, head of Abeking & Rasmussen Special Vessels.

The two predecessor vessels –Scharhörn and Mellum – were powered by MTU-brand engines from Rolls-Royce. "The customer was impressed not only by MTU propulsion, but by the quality of the service we provided, and that swayed his decision in our favour," said Jörg Fischer-Felsberg, Director Sales and Service, MTU Germany.

In the event of an emergency, the new ships, capable of speeds over 15 knots, will be at the accident scene in no more than  two hours. Equipped with emergency towing capabilities with 145 tons bollard pull, chemical tanks, an explosion-proof safety and container cargo hold, as well as oil collection equipment such as skimmers, oil-holding tanks and a separation room, they are able to accomplish the most challenging missions. As well as the engines, the entire ship, including a crew citadel, is gas-protected.

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