In Depth: Arklow Valiant

In mid-May 2016, Arklow Valiant left the harbour of Delfzijl, in The Netherlands, for her sea trials. In that same week, immediately after successful completion of the sea trials, she was handed over to her new owners, Arklow Shipping.

Only seven weeks prior to the handover, on Friday the first of April at 10am, the 5150 DWAT Bodewes Trader, with yard number 723, was launched at their yard in Hoogezand. Whilst currently building such a large number of vessels, it is almost impossible for Arklow to perform every launch and name giving ceremony with great display; as such the ceremony was only open to, and witnessed by, a select audience.

Yard number 723 is the third ship in a series of ten that will be completely built at the Hoogezand facilities of Royal Bodewes for Arklow Shipping. Being the third of the series, Bodewes and Arklow adopted their experience on the first two vessels, and Arklow Valiant was redesigned with a new bow, which sets it aside from both its predecessors.

Un-Vale-ing the Arklow View in a Valiant way

In the early part of 2015, Royal Bodewes was awarded an order to build ten new bulk orientated Eco Traders in the shipping company’s V-series, with an option for five more. This Arklow V-class series represents one of the largest single class orders in the history of the Wicklow headquartered shipping company, whilst the new builds will all be under management of the Dutch division Arklow Shipping Nederland B.V, based in Rotterdam. The total fleet, including the majority of Irish-flagged vessels, is currently comprised mostly of the ‘R’ class, in which 15 such ships were also built in The Netherlands. Besides the new builds, the current fleet total is 46-strong, and the ships are either general dry-cargo traders or bulk-carriers. The fleet ranges from the smallest ‘R’ class of 4,933 dwt, to the largest ‘S’ class bulkers of 34,905 dwt.

Arklow Vale, yard number 721, and the lead ship of this series, was christened and launched on Friday the 18th of September 2015, during the fiftieth anniversary year of Arklow Shipping. The ‘Vale’ was delivered to her owners to leave the harbour of Delfzijl for her maiden voyage on the 16th of November 2015. On Thursday the 17th of December, the second vessel in the series, yard number 722, was named Arklow View and launched. Given the naming nomenclature, all future sister vessels will also be given V-names, and be registered at the port of Rotterdam. And so it happened that the third ship, the 17th Dutch-flagged vessel, was named Arklow Valiant. On the slipway of the Bodewes facilities, the hull of yard number 724 is currently being outfitted, whilst the steel cutting and construction of the block sections for the fifth vessel is also at an advanced stage. The delivery of the ten vessels is equally spread over a two and a half year period, with the last to be handed over in March of 2018. This results in an average delivery schedule of four vessels per year . . . one every 3 months!

Notably Different

At almost 90 meters in length overall, Arklow Vale and View already featured a distinctive energy-saving designed bow. For these vessels, the basic principle of the Groot Cross-Bow® was applied, featuring a straightstem that slices the waves coupled by an upper slope to deflect wave resistance. In this aspect, Arklow Valiant notably differs to her completed 5150 DWAT Eco-Trader sisters. She still displays the same typical lines up to the main deck, but the bow lines above this level no longer show the backward inclination, but rather continue going straight up. This alteration is mainly based on user experience – the new design provides an improved vision to the bow anchors while anchoring. Furthermore, in retrospect, Arklow find the lines simply look better this way.

To further enhance the environmentally clean status, from Arklow Valiant on, all further V-series Traders will feature an extensive ballast water treatment system. This Oceanguard system, supplied by Reikon, kills microbes, bacteria and viruses in ballast water, using an electro-chemical excitation system.

The Bodewes 5150 DWAT Eco Trader Class The series of mini-bulkers are of the new, in-house developed, Royal Bodewes 5150 DWAT Eco Trader design, and have a double hull featuring one large box-shaped hold with a capacity of 6.258 cubic metres (221.000 cuft). The hull form is characterised by the special bulbless straight bow with almost vertical, slightly backwards, stem profile. The bow design, in combination with the sharp entrance angles of the waterlines and the optimised hull shape, has the advantage of improved seagoing characteristics.

According to Bodewes, this hull shape starts earning its money when the weather gets worse. In the part of Europe where these ships operate, most of the time the prevailing weather conditions are poor. In fact, the overall trend is that the average wind speeds and frequency of strong winds is increasing in comparison with the past. So, Bodewes decided to base their design on these conditions, rather than base it on calm sea states, as was done previously.

While the bow is almost vertical, and the waterline shape remains nearly identical between the light and loaded draught, the ship’s performance and behaviour are optimised for the complete range of loading conditions and draughts. To further enhance the stability and trim, a number of ballast tanks in the double hull in the sides and the bottom, have been made available for use as passive anti-heel tanks.

The ship is provided with a single large diameter CPP (controllable pitch propeller) in a nozzle under a dedicated, customised transom shape. The bottom lines are faired in a moderate upward slope towards the stern, while the ‘gondola’ shaped hull around the propeller shaft improves the flow and the wake characteristics. The propeller itself is designated for enhanced thrust at a low rpm for a moderate speed, whilst a reduction of required (maximum installed) propulsion power is achieved.

To further reduce the Gross Tonnage, the transom is cut high and narrow, whilst at the same time maintaining the deadweight and cargo volume. The ultimate challenge of this design was to keep the vessel below the 3000 GT. This was important from a financial perspective, as staying below 3000 GT would mean lesser requirements for crew and navigation equipment, whilst at the same time reducing insurance and harbour fees. Keeping the load line length below 85 metres meant that a freefall lifeboat was not required, thus gaining more deck space.

The aim with customising this design for Arklow was to provide a means of transport that would be suitable for a diverse range of bulk commodities, including cement. Therefore, a great deal of thought has gone into maximising the cargo hold area in relation to the overall size of the vessel, featuring an uninterrupted length of 60 metres at a width of 12.40 metres and a height of 8.68 metres. The hold is covered with ten pontoon type hatch covers, which can be handled and stored with a dedicated gantry crane. To provide a certain level of versatility in the cargo hold, two displaceable grain bulkheads are included, and the hatch covers are fitted with cement loading lids. The cargo hold bulkheads, on all sides and bottom, are reinforced with thicker steel plating to offer additional margin for wear due to clamshell grabs.

Full steam ahead

The ship is provided with a single Caterpillar Propulsion Controllable Pitch Propeller (CPP), which is powered by a MaK 6M25C marine diesel engine via a reduction gearbox. This 1740kW main engine is designed to run on heavy fuel oil (IFO180). The gearbox, a Siemens, has a Power Take Off (PTO) to a shaft alternator of 348kWe. Wolfard & Wessels Werktuigbouw, of Hoogezand in The Netherlands, provided the design, including delivery and installation of the engine room piping, auxiliary engine room equipment, and bilge/ballast equipment.

In consultation with the shipyard, Arklow decided to use a ‘nozzled’ propellor. As a result, a large diameter Berg CPP with high thrust-efficiency, delivered by Caterpillar Propulsion, is placed under the sleek transom shape. The bottom lines are faired in a steep upward slope towards the stern, while the ‘cigar’ shaped hull around the propeller shaft improves the flow and the wake characteristics.

Behind the ‘nozzled’ CPP is a Benes flap rudder, designed to improve the effective lift generated by the rudder, and hence improve the manoeuvrability of vessels, especially at lower and moderate speeds. The rudder is operated by Rolls Royce Rotary Vane steering gear. The Verhaar Omega OFP (fixed pitch) bow thruster, driven by a Leroy Somer 300kW electric motor, further contributes to improved manoeuvrability.

Besides the shaft generator, the auxiliary equipment consists of two 154kWe generator sets and an emergency generator set of 66kWe. All generator sets are a combination of Sisu diesel engines with a Stamford alternator. The generator sets, including the shaft alternator, are supplied by Veth Propulsion.

The shaft generator, referred to above, produces enough power for the entire vessel, for all consumers, during normal sailing.

The generators are merely required when manoeuvring in harbour, or for powering the hold ventilation when carrying demanding cargoes. Alewijnse Marine Systems were responsible for the delivery and installation of the electrical systems on board.

Outdoor logistics

When the hatch covers are closed, the upper deck is flush between the forward bulkhead of the superstructure and forecastle deck. To accommodate the ventilation of the hold, provisions are made against the superstructure bulkhead, aft of the hold, and at the far forward end on the forecastle deck.
The ten pontoon type upper deck hatchcovers can be stowed in one stack aft of the hold, just forward of the superstructure on deck. Handling of all hatch panels and grain bulkheads panels is done with a gantry crane on coaming rails. For storage, the hatch crane can also be positioned aft, against the superstructure.
Hatch covers and gantry crane are supplied by Coops & Nieborg. The main deck, in way of the cargo holds, consists of side decks (gangways) only, which are fitted with guardrails on the ship’s sides.

The aft main deck, behind the superstructure, is home to the aft mooring equipment. Boat deck on portside, aft of the superstructure, accommodates the Hatecke lifeboat and its dedicated Global Davit crane, while the life rafts are to be found on both sides of the superstructure at this same level. The anchoring and forward mooring equipment is on the open forecastle deck. All mooring equipment is supplied by C-Nautical from Sappemeer, The Netherlands. The emergency generator is to be found to starboard side, on main deck level.

King of the Castle

The superstructure is located aft, and facilitates a modern and comfortable accommodation for nine persons. All cabins are air-conditioned and equipped with private sanitary units.

The wheelhouse forward area contains the T-shaped navigation console with all the required navigation, communication and ship control facilities. Both aft corners are home to the radio desk and chart table respectively. The bridge wings are outside, and each have a small control desk with relevant primary control facilities. All bridge equipment was delivered and installed by SAM Electronics.

Below the wheelhouse is the boat deck, with a dayroom, bedroom and bathroom for the Master Mariner and Chief Engineer. One level lower, the main deck, contains similar, though smaller facilities for the first and second mate, along with technical spaces. The tween deck accommodates the crew cabins. This deck also houses all air-conditioning, hold ventilation, and CO2 equipment, as well as containing a provision storage, mess room, galley with pantry, changing room, and an engine room workshop.

Conclusion

The Arklow Valiant is a well-designed mini-bulker suitable for coastal transport, specifically for the short sea trade routes of Western Europe. The design philosophy is based on prevailing weather conditions and maximising cost saving during her operational life, on the premise that a quality performance at manageable costs is all about minimum fuel consumption, low rates, and optimal comfort for cargo and crew.

Tom Oomkens

This article was previously published in Maritime Holland edition #4 – 2016.

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