Damen FCS 5009 m/v Leonardo gets an upgrade that defies the roll of the sea
In a continuous effort to integrate revolutionizing products and ideas into the offshore crew and cargo transport industry, Damen has over the years, partnered with multiple innovative equipment manufactures to integrate and retrofit complimentary developments into their vessel designs.
Over the past year, Leonardo, a Damen FCS 5009, owned by the leading offshore crew transport company in Mexico, Naviera Integral, was the focus of an international collaboration that spanned companies, oceans, and a global pandemic. After over a year of engineering, planning, restricted travel, experimentation and hard work, the joint efforts of this multi-company and multi-faceted team resulted in the successful installation and testing of a VG1000 SD gyrostabilizer, a powerful gyroscopic stabilizing device built by Australian company VEEM Marine, onboard the FCS 5009.
Upgrade for popular workhorse
The Damen FCS 5009 is a popular ship among organizations that support the global offshore industry. This vessel, and the coming FCS 7011, are well positioned to become the choice modes of transportation for crew and supply delivery as the modern offshore industry shifts toward safer and more sustainable options. The FCS 5009’s speed, efficiency, seakeeping, and crew and cargo capacity all cater to the industry’s operations, but a need for advanced stabilization to further increase safety and passenger comfort, particularly while at zero speed and using dynamic positioning, was recognized and Damen was quick to identify a solution.
The VEEM Gyrostabilizer uses an electrically driven flywheel housed in a vacuum chamber to generate stabilizing toque with hydraulic precision, this arrangement generates forces that resist the roll motion produced by waves and is particularly effective when traditional stabilizers are not.
After Leonardo underwent installation, sea trials, and testing, the success of the upgrade was clear. With the vessel is at zero speed, and the gyrostabilizer operating, a roll reduction of 80% was experienced. While data was being collected to identify the effectiveness of the gyrostabilizer, on deck cameras were also set up to compare the rolling deck against the horizon. The resulting video shows the remarkable, and almost instantaneous, stabilizing effect of the gyrostabilizer being turned on and off. Additional benefit came when test results showed a 60% roll reduction provided by the gyrostabilizer while the vessel was traveling at 19 knots. This means that those onboard a gyrostabilizer-equipped FCS 5009, with its pitch-reducing Axe Bow, will experience a significantly smoother journey to and from the worksite, in addition to an almost rock steady deck during transfer operations.
Improved safety, stability and comfort
Damen is constantly improving the efficiency and safety of maritime operations worldwide. Because of this, they sought a solution that is viable for a range of vessels, suitable for quick and effective aftermarket installation, and, at the same time, able to integrate seamlessly into the designs of new build vessels. All signs pointed to VEEM Marine.
But this was still an experimental project that required some planning on the shipbuilder’s part. “Because the gyrostabilizer produces significant forces to resist rolling motions, the gyrostabilizer’s counterforces on the vessel’s structure were something that had to be considered and worked through. Multiple teams came together to collaborate, from the crew and owners, to the Damen team that engineered and built the vessel, to the Damen Services team that guided and performed the installation work. This collaboration identified potential structural concerns and created a reinforcement solution that could be installed locally and with minimal special tooling or downtime for the vessel” says Marcel van Hemert, Account Manager for Damen Services.
According to Mr. van Hemert, the gyrostabilizer installation was truly an international collaboration made possible by use of remote communication techniques, which reduced the need for travel to the site. For planning and installation, the OEM team phoned in from Australia and engineers phoned in from the Netherlands to support the upgrade which was performed by the on-site team comprised of Gert-Jan Blauw, a Damen Services Project Manager, local workers, and the vessel’s crew.
Over the Spring of 2021, the FCS 5009’s deck was reinforced, using locally supplied steel, and the gyrostabilizer was placed behind the wheelhouse, on the deck of the vessel. A housing that contains everything the gyrostabilizer needs to operate, was built around it, and systems were connected to integrate the gyrostabilizer into the vessel. Once all systems were up and running, the FCS 5009 underwent sea trials and demonstrations to make sure the installation was successful, it has since gone back into service delivering crew and goods to the Gulf of Mexico’s offshore industry working for a well-known Oil Major. The VG1000 SD is also installed in the ground-breaking Damen FCS 7011.
Building for the future
VEEM’s gyrostabilizer has proven to have a significant and measurable effect on the FCS 5009’s motion during crew and cargo transfers. This reduces crew fatigue, improves safety and ease of cargo transfer, in addition to reducing weather-related downtime. The passengers, crew, end-client, and owners of the vessel are thrilled with the gyrostabilizer upgrade, which is complimented by recently installed business class seating, further improving comfort onboard the vessel.
David Stibbe, Manager Business Development at Damen states, “The results of this pilot project and the client feedback has been very positive. Damen is happy to collaborate with VEEM Marine to expand the suite of upgrade offerings available for new and existing vessels built on the 5009 hull design. We are also looking to future applications for this technology, and have already integrated it into the newly built FCS 7011’’.
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