MARIN. A partner valued for its independence and innovation
Due to its long history of seafaring, the Netherlands has an unrivalled network of research institutes and technical universities that have specialist expertise in maritime technology. Over the years, the Damen Shipyards Group has worked with many of these on a wide range of projects, and one of its most consistent counterparties has been MARIN, the Marine Research Institute Netherlands. Founded in 1929 as the Netherlands Ship Model Basin, today it is a multi-disciplinary organization dedicated to making ships better, in the sense of cleaner, safer and smarter.
The 350-strong team at MARIN achieves its aims through a range of analytical and development procedures including the building and tank testing of scale models, software simulations including advanced CFD, actual simulators for personnel and onboard measurements on full size vessels. MARIN works with both industry and governmental counterparties around the world, contributing to projects from the earliest conceptual design stages right through to the optimisation of existing vessels. As such, it is the largest independent organisation of its kind in the world today.
MARIN’s relationship with Damen began when the shipbuilder began producing bigger vessels. It already had a strong design capability, but sought external input on how they could be further improved. That cooperation continues to this day and extends across a wide range of vessels, from naval frigates to fast crew suppliers and walk-to-work ships.
One notable area of recent cooperation has been that of inland shipping. This unique project was born out of a European initiative to make inland vessels more efficient and so reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The result was the development of air lubrication, a Damen-patented system that involves building air chambers into the bottom of a hull, thereby reducing the wetted surface of the vessel and resulting, in this case, in a 15-25% reduction in required power.
The first Ecoliner 1145 is now in operation and, to make her even cleaner, uses four LNG-powered generators to drive her propulsion units. This revolutionary ship represents the future of inland shipping.
Damen and MARIN also worked together on the walk-to-work vessel concept. The first of this class, the Service Operations Vessel (SOV) Bibby WaveMaster 1, was launched in March this year and will be ready to start servicing wind farms in the summer. MARIN worked on optimising the design and processes that allow the vessel to safely manoeuvre up close to the wind turbines and apply its DP system for safe operations alongside.
Simulating the performance of the ship in a mould testing facility and demonstrating its stability and manoeuvrability enabled Damen to present the new design to the market as a proven concept. As an added bonus, MARIN has also developed a simulator that enables Damen to train the crew using the ship in delicate operations including approaching and holding position alongside wind turbines using the DP system, and also operating the crane and gangway.
The big picture
Elsewhere the two organisations also find themselves involved in joint industry projects that involve much larger groupings. The Safe Tug programme, for example, brought together 30 companies to investigate improving the seakeeping of tugs. Using models and simulations, investigations were made into improving safety via design optimisation. A greater understanding of the issues faced by users was also a welcome result. Damen has since incorporated many of the findings in its latest tug designs.
Another area of mutual activity is within the Netherlands’ so-called Golden Triangle of government, research & development institutes and industry. With Damen, a major contractor for the Royal Dutch Navy, and MARIN, an independent maritime innovator of international significance, cooperation on naval projects is an ongoing theme.
Perhaps the final proof of the depth of cooperation between Damen and MARIN is the position of the former as one of the fourteen members of the MARIN Stakeholders Association. Founded in 2003, the MSA not only works with the institute to define the research and development topics for the future that will be of most value to the maritime and offshore industries, it also maintains a guarantee fund that is available to support MARIN and its resources in difficult years. It has never been used yet, but it demonstrates the long-term view of the organisation and its supporters, and the high regard in which Damen and its fellow companies hold it.