In Depth: Baltic

In 2007, Maritime Holland reported on Deo Volente, the Hartman Trader 18, a cargo ship which found its own niche due to its speed (18 knots), cargo gear and efficient operations. The shipyard established by Johan Hartman for this project has gone on to build three sister vessels to this ship.

In 2012, they built a new series, called M2 Runner, which focused on lowering operating costs by maximizing cargo deck space for minimal fuel consumption, with a lower top speed of 12.5 knots.

These vessels were often used to transport components for offshore wind farms. One of them had a dynamic positioning system with the goal to allow unloading at sea.

Family business

The ships are built by Hartman Shipbuilding but remain in the family, one could say. They are owned by Global Seatrade (owned by Johan Hartman), Hartman Seatrade and Hartman Shipping. The close (family) relationship between builder and owners gives the builder an excellent look at the market. It’s because of this that both the shipyard and the ship owners have weathered the crisis well and have continued to grow the fleet, while most competitors have paused newbuilding.

The compact heavy-lift vessels are used for a variety of transports, such as large engines, cranes, superyachts and industrial equipment. They have become an essential part in the logistical chain of the wind farm construction industry, and it’s particularly this last segment that provided feedback for the latest generation of ships to be built in Urk harbor.

Risk of delays

The transport of wind turbine components, such as the nacelles, mast and blades is subject to strict deadlines. Loading them onto the ship with cranes presents a risk, not so much by damages, but more because the cargo operations are dependent on the weather conditions.

Frequently, strong winds can delay loading or unloading, which is an uncertain factor in projects with often strict deadlines. For this reason, Hartman Marine Group has decided to create a roll on-roll-off (RoRo)version of their popular M2 Carrier. As the deadweight and the speed remain the same, the designers kept the hull shape and most of the engineering intact.

However, to turn a regular cargo vessel into a RoRo vessel takes more than making a hole in the transom and adding a ramp to the stern.

Stern ramp

The most visible difference is that the accommodation is moved from the stern to the bow. Unlike Rotra Vente and Rotra Mare from Concordia Group, described earlier in Maritime Holland, which perform their loading and unloading through a bow door, most RoRo vessels use the transom as this allows for a very wide and low stern door.

Baltic is the first of the R2 Carrier class, named R2 for the roll-on roll-off principle.

“This arrangement has two big advantages: the size of the cargo is not limited in height, and we see that nacelles keep on growing in size, and the cargo is protected from the weather by the forward accommodation,” Arie Cornelis Baak, project manager of Hartman Shipbuilding, said.

The vessel has an unmanned machinery space notation, which means that monitoring of the engine room can be done from the accommodation.

To line up the ramp with different quay heights, the designers added a 180 m3 trim-ballast tank in the stern. Just forward of the stern ramp is a second rotating hatch, which closes the cargo hold weathertight. The hold is 63 metres long and has a tween deck. This allows complete wind turbines to be shipped in one go, with the tower sections in the lower hold, the nacelles on the tween deck and the windmill blades in their special rigs on top of the cargo hatches.

As on the M2 Carrier, the gross tonnage of the vessel was kept just below 3,000 GT. The ship is normally operated by a crew of seven, half of which are officers (usually Dutch) and the other half seamen (usually from the Philippines). The ship owner uses a shore support team to conduct maintenance during port calls.

Naval Architecture

Baltic has a top speed of 13.0 knots but normally sails at 12 knots. It does this with only a single 1,200 kW main engine. The naval architecture was done by Conoship, the engineering done by DEKC Maritime.

This results in a frugal fuel consumption of only 5 m3/day. Next to a bow thruster, a stern thruster is located in the keel, under the propeller shaft, which allows the vessel to moor without the assistance of tugs in many cases.

Spudpole

The hull was built by Neptune Marine together with Partner Shipyards in Poland in six months and then towed to Urk for final outfitting. In all, the building of the vessel took only nine months.

A unique feature of Baltic is its spudpole. This is a telescopic pipe, located just aft of the accommodation, which can be dropped down to the seabed up to 14.5 metres below the keel. With the spudpole and mooring ropes at the transom, the vessel can stay in position perpendicular to the loading quay without needing the bow thruster or anchoring.

The maximum axle load of rolling material is 80 tons. Both the tweendeck sections and the cargo hatches can be stowed just behind the accommodation. A rolling gantry crane is used to maneuver the hatches.

Baltic has an open-top notation with a limited draught, allowing to ship very large objects in the open cargo hold.

Fuel

Due to the low fuel consumption, a scrubber installation was not found worthwhile. The ship already sails on Marine Gas Oil worldwide, which will not change after 2020 when the sulphur-cap comes into force.

Baltic is equipped with an Integrated Navigation system from Wärtsilä SAM Electronics. The system includes two radars, two ECDIS electronic chart systems and a full A3 GMDSS communications suite. It is based on a common hardware and software platform, called Platinum series bridge, allowing for easy modifications later on.

Due to its compact size and stern ramp, Baltic can reach a lot of production locations which are often situated along the British rivers, quite far inland. It is equally suitable to deliver project cargos to Africa, where port infrastructure is often minimal. The confidence in the new concept is such that a second vessel is already under construction, and without a doubt, more will follow.

Bruno Bouckaert


This article was previously published in Maritime Holland edition #6 – 2017.

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