DISCOVER Magazine #7

R&D continues apace throughout the Damen Shipyards Group

Published in category: Innovation

Innovative concepts are turned into reality through ongoing Research & Development throughout the Damen Shipyards Group. Here we highlight some of our recent work.

The Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution’s new Search and Rescue vessel highlights the achievements of ongoing product research. A completely new design, this highly manoeuvrable KNRM vessel is the result of more than two years research and several studies and measurement programmes.

Research into the operability of fast craft led to the development of a prototype of the new Search and Rescue vessel. The project ‘Speed at Sea’ included a large number of full-scale trials on board of KNRM vessels, which resulted in a large database of videos, which was synchronised with ship motion and acceleration/steering/ engine control data. Damen worked alongside Delft University of Technology during the project and eventually drew on insight gained from more than 15 trials on KNRM’s Arie Visser Class vessels. Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) and TNO were also involved in the research phase and during the design phase Damen cooperated with KNRM, Delft University’s Ship Hydrodynamics Laboratory and the design office De Vries Lentsch.


New Search and Rescue Class

This has resulted in a design whereby the vessel is highly manoeuvrable in bow and bow quartering waves with the required course stability in following waves. Retractable fins were introduced, which provide the necessary change of characteristics depending on the situation.

Peter van Terwisga, the Group’s Research Coordinator, comments: “This vessel is a major improvement on previous designs and also fits in with today’s requirements to be less noisy and more comfortable.”

The NH 1816 Class, which entered service in February, also has a new communication system. This new Class is deployable in all weather conditions, has excellent seakeeping and stability but comfort and user-friendliness are also key features. The concept could apply to other ships as well, he adds.

Ongoing studies are looking into the seakeeping behaviour of high-speed craft, with current research examining motion control systems. “It is all about improving operability, making sure our customers can do their tasks and missions – ensuring that they can operate for a longer time in higher sea states, waves and wind.”

Walk to Work vessel for offshore wind farms

Another design concept innovation concerns the new Walk to Work vessel to service offshore wind farms. “How best to serve the offshore wind industry is a real challenge in the coming years,” he stresses. “When considering Round 3 offshore wind farm projects in the UK, a logistical solution is needed as these are not so close to the shore. Maintenance activities cannot be performed efficiently with crew tenders operating from ports.”

“Together with service providers for the offshore wind industry we have developed the new vessel, looking at their requirements and how they want to work to optimise the design.”

Hull shape variation studies were carried out to optimise operability and the internal layout was entirely based on the workflow of the operator. Motion compensated equipment is deployed such as the Ampelmann – a motion compensated gangway – and a heave compensated crane.

Launch & recovery

Another important topic being addressed is the ability to launch and recover vessels and equipment such as ROVs. The LAURA 2 Joint Industry Project initiated by MARIN is considering how to put equipment overboard/on board again in higher sea states. “This is a very important development – the better the operability of the ship, the better it is able to earn money.”

Fatigue Life prediction

In another cooperative project, an integrated analysis procedure for high-speed and planing craft has been developed. Essentially it has coupled advanced ship motion predictions tools and structural design tools. “This has shown the need to predict the loads in a different way to the traditional method to address seakeeping. This makes it much easier to predict the structural design response, increasing certainty. We can now predict the fatigue life of high-speed craft. When we integrate these findings into vessels, we can lower the weight of our vessels whilst still having durable vessels with good structural response.”

Materials – composites

For materials, Damen is busy on several fronts, particularly researching the use of composite products. Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding is already applying composites to the design of some superstructures and masts and Damen examined the fire resistance properties of composites in the EU project BESST.

“Now we are able to prove that composites are safe and effective to our customers and the classification societies.” Knowledge of composite structures developed in the FLIGHT project was also applied to Damen’s new modular ferry concept (see separate story).


Sustainable research has been very important in the past and it still is today. Damen took part in the E3 tug project and insight gained during this project finally led to the development of two hybrid tugs, the first of which was launched in June (see separate article). “But following on from the hybrid, R&D doesn’t stop there, we can always improve and make further efficiencies.”

Another initiative is the air lubricated inland tanker, with the first likely to be built in 2014. “With this new tanker we expect a 15% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions and with LNG and an electric propulsion unit, NOx is reduced by 85%, CO2 by 20% and particulate matter has been eliminated!”

A major part of Damen’s sustainability efforts are shown in the European 7th framework project JOULES (Joint Operation for Ultra Low Emission Ships), which started in July 2013 with 38 organisations taking part. Damen is considering the integration of sustainable technologies into applications, with a focus on urban ferries, tugs and wind assisted cargo vessels. With the cargo vessel, Damen is aiming to get more insight into the sail system and the sail’s integration with the hull design. For tugs it will examine the further development of hybrid applications of LNG and Energy Management Systems and the continuing reduction of energy and emissions is under focus for tugs during the four-year project.

Noise reduction

Research into noise level prediction capabilities and measurement accuracy is including the application of the latest technologies from the automotive industry. “There will only be more stringent requirements for noise levels on board and even in the future, underwater radiated noise.” A pilot took place using the noise imaging technique (SORAMA). This system was evaluated for its capability of visualising how noise can be transferred through the ship’s construction, he says.

Dedicated dredging R&D facility

In another part of the Group, Damen Dredging has established its own R&D facility in Nijkerk to investigate multi-phase flow phenomena in pump systems, to carry out wear studies and for demonstrator activities. Damen Dredging’s efforts also led to the creation of a pioneering deepsea dredging and mining system. “This is very innovative, cost efficient and is very suitable for deepsea mining, which is playing an increasingly important role in the world.”

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