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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Class drives LNG fuel and digitalisation developments

Mon 11 Feb 2019 by Rebecca Moore

Class drives LNG fuel and digitalisation developments
Bureau Veritas worked with CMA CGM and containment system designer GTT to ensure requirements for safely using LNG were addressed on CMA CGM's newbuilds (copyright: CMA CGM)

Class societies take the lead in boosting box ship LNG take up, digitalisation and stowage efficiency

Container ship owners will increasingly turn to gas as fuel for their newbuildings as more LNG supply infrastructure comes online and the operational benefits are recognised. Classification societies will be at the forefront of aiding owners in their choice of fuel and providing advice through design, construction and operation of these gas-fuelled container liners and feeders.

This was demonstrated when CMA CGM selected Bureau Veritas to class the new series of LNG-fuelled 22,000-TEU container ships that will be built at China State Shipbuilding Corp, with seven to be delivered in 2020 and two in 2021. These will be the first ultra large container ships to be powered by dual-fuel LNG and will drive other owners to consider LNG, said Bureau Veritas’ newly appointed executive vice president in charge of marine and offshore Matthieu de Tugny.

Bureau Veritas was involved in this project from its inception. It aided owner, containment system designer GTT and shipbuilder to ensure requirements for safely using LNG were addressed. “It takes time to approve these designs and innovation in using LNG as fuel,” said Mr de Tugny.

He highlighted how this project also breaks new ground in terms of scale and schedule. “This is a nine-ship project and all are to be built in just two years,” he said. One of the challenges is incorporating enough onboard LNG storage for cross-ocean voyages. Each of these ships will have 18,600-m3 capacity membrane-type tanks, which is higher than has previously been required for LNG-fuelled ships.

Even though LNG is perceived as a new fuel for the container ship sector, in the long-term other fuels could be introduced to ensure the industry can attempt to meet IMO’s aspirations to cut carbon emissions in 2030 and 2050.

Bureau Veritas marine marketing and sales director Gijsbert de Jong thinks LNG is one of the fuel pathways that shipowners could follow in the future. “LNG could be a stepping-stone to developing non-carbon based fuels,” he said, adding that these could include hydrogen and ammonia-based fuels. Other technology under consideration includes turning back to sails to harness wind power and using energy storage devices for hybrid propulsion.

“We need to consider different propulsion, such as fuel cells, hydrogen, ammonia and biofuels,” Mr de Jong said. “We are doing pilot projects to get a regulatory framework ready for these developments.”

Lloyd's Register has also highlighted using LNG as one of three main areas that container ship owners/operators are interested in when it comes to newbuild container projects. LR global cyber TFT manager and deputy manager for Busan technical support office Sung-Gu Park said "The first is capability to use LNG as fuel, which we are seeing more and more and on larger-sized container ships. We are working with one major shipyard and a major owner in South Korea to develop a 15,000-TEU ULCS (ultra large container ship) newbuild, which will be the first ULCS to adopt a Type-B LNG tank (it will be located under the accommodation block)." LR assessed the LNG fuel system to ensure its safe operation, robustness, reliability, and has provided technical services to the operator to help them understand the gas bunkering procedure and compatibility with LNG bunkering vessels.

The second is operational efficiency. This is related to hull form, propeller, rudder and other appendages, including energy saving device additions. Mr Park said "LR is delivering technical services for optimised hull and appendages that in return offers fuel consumption performance that will allow ships to stay on charter profitably, with new operational conditions. In addition, cargo intake optimisation needs to be considered for commercial benefit, looking at the length of the voyage and the duration of the cargo planning prior to departure, in combination with the limited validity of weather forecasts."

Digitalisation future

Class societies are also at the forefront of maritime digitalisation. Mr Park said this was the third top priority for container newbuilds. "A decrease in the number of skilled industry professionals is accelerating the move towards autonomous ships and the number of crew members on board an ULCS for example, does not proportionally increase when compared with a relatively small container ship," he said. 

"Furthermore, we know that labour and costs are key factors driving this pace of change. Substantial improvements in operational efficiency and safety are possible though enhanced monitoring, communication interconnectivity of equipment and assets. Therefore, major shipyards and owners have developed their own digital ship solutions. However, the increased blurring of software, hardware and interconnectivity also brings new challenges which need to be assessed through our cyber security services. We are working with a major owner and yard in South Korea for 23,000-TEU container ship newbuilds that will be certified to our descriptive note, accessibility level 3 (Digital SAFE AL3)." 

 BV's Mr de Tugny thinks societies need to embrace digital technologies to improve ship inspections, ship construction and cyber-proof IT systems.

He highlighted how shipping needs digitalised classification services to optimise operations and improve ship construction. “If we don’t invest in digitalisation we will not survive, as this is part of the industry’s transformation,” said Mr de Tugny.

He outlined how Bureau Veritas had developed an end-to-end digital platform for shipowners, surveyors, shipmanagers and vessel operators to use for multiple class applications and services.

For example, shipowners can use a mobile device application to request class surveys and use smart checklists to prepare vessels for port state control inspections. Owners can use Veristar to managing fleet readiness and compliance. Surveyors can use another Bureau Veritas' digital application for producing class reports and issuing e-certificates.

Mr de Tugny explained how Bureau Veritas had developed cyber-related vessel notations and guidance and invested in advanced 3D modelling and computational fluid dynamics software to test ship designs against expected wind forces.

These 3D models can include class comments and be used by shipyards to improve vessel construction. “Clients can benefit from these models for better visualisation of ships as there can be discrepancies between 2D design drawings and shipbuilding,” said Mr Tugny.

Bureau Veritas is also developing methods of using drones with cameras and sensors to inspect ships. It is recruiting teams of IT and cyber security experts to ensure its own systems are secure and shipowners are cyber-ready.

The class society has introduced notations for ships it considers cyber secure and safe. These are required for cyber performance, which includes having remote access and control for condition-based maintenance, measuring fuel consumption and optimising routes and uptime of vessels.

Future developments will include adopting blockchain programs and further levels of autonomous vessel operations, said Mr Tugny. Classification societies need to be at the centre and front of these projects to ensure they meet regulatory and safety requirements for the future.

Software for bigger ships

In October 2018, Korean Register (KR) released the latest version of SeaTrust-LS, its container securing strength assessment software. KR said that SeaTrust-LS has been significantly enhanced by incorporating KR's new 2018 guidance for container securing assessment and reflects practical insights and feedback from world-class lashing makers, SEC Bremen and German Lashing Robert Böck GmbH.

KR pointed out that optimal container stowage and arrangement is “more critical than ever” as the trend for ever-larger container ships persists – with ULCS now carrying stacks of 10 or more container tiers on deck.

This year, KR revised its guidance for container stowage and lashing by conducting ship motion analysis for different sizes of container ships from 1,000 TEU up to 23,000 TEU. Analysis included optimising accelerations, nonlinear analysis for calculating accurate external lashing forces, and CFD (computational fluid dynamics) analysis under various scenarios relating to reasonable wind forces.

The latest version of SeaTrust-LS contains all revisions of this latest guidance. The new SeaTrust-LS applies the semi-nonlinear calculation method to consider the twistlock separation effect of external lashing. This ensures safely securing external lashing and faster computing time for lashing strength assessment. The software provides a range of useful features, including calculating optimal acceleration and wind force, together with 13 route reduction factors enabling container ships to maximise their cargo capacities while ensuring the safety of the ships themselves.

SeaTrust-LS also includes a feature to identify maximum cargo capacity automatically. This function can assist users to easily optimise design stack weight, the lashing bridge design and the container stowage arrangement. This allows the operator to select the best stowage arrangements under specified allowable targets.

Matthieu de Tugny (BureauVeritas)
Prior to his appointment as executive vice president of the Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore Division, Matthieu de Tugny was senior vice president and chief operations officer of the division.

He joined Bureau Veritas in 1994 as a design review engineer. In successive appointments and promotions he has worked in South Korea, the US, Singapore and France. He has led technical, operations, marketing and sales, offshore and marine teams and regions.  

Mr de Tugny graduated from Ecole Nationale de la Marine Marchande, France with a dual purpose officer diploma and he holds a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Ecole Supérieure d'Electricité.




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