Australian Designs Fast 1,600-Ton Containership With Crew Of Only Five

An Australian naval architect has designed a fast, short-haul containership of nearly 1,600 tons which has a crew of only five men.

He is Warwick Hood of Sydney, who said the ship, equipped with the latest technological aids, could be managed by a crew of only two.

Mr. Hood said there was nothing revolutionary about the equipment.

"All t h e i n g r e d i e n t s we have used are readily available.

Only the recipe is new." Mr. Hood, a designer of racing yachts including Australia's 1967 America's Cup challenger Dame Pattie, was commissioned to design a vessel for a fast service covering 200 miles across Bass Strait between the mainland and the Australian island State of Tasmania.

With the design completed and a model tank-tested, negotiations are now going on for construction of two of the 308-foot ships at a cost of about $A6,000,000 each.

Each carrying 74 c o n t a i n e r s stacked two-high on deck and no cargo below deck, they would operate daily round trips between terminals.

With twin lightweight diesel engines providing a speed of 22 knots, they would make two ninehour crossings with two hours at each end for loading and unloading, servicing, refuelling and crew change, and a one-hour margin "for the unexpected." "With the planned level of automation, all functions could be handled with a crew of five — a master, two navigation officers and two engineering officers," Mr.

Hood said.

"The ship will be controlled entirely from the air-conditioned wheelhouse where ergonomically laid-out controls such as radar, compasses and machinery surveillance systems will give the crew virtually an armchair ride.

"There will be no one in the automated engine room. There will be no seamen because their traditional functions have been eliminated or replaced by automatic or remote-controlled devices.

"For example, there are no ropes to tie, there is no cargohandling gear on the ship, and there are no hatch covers because the containers are all on deck. The containers don't need to be lashed down because they fit into a fullheight cell guide structure built on the deck." A mooring arrangement has been developed whereby hydraulic arms controlled from the wharf would link the ship to the wharf in a precise location. Container cranes could be positioned to begin immediate unloading.

"This type of operation can only operate successfully between two purpose-built terminals with mooring facilities and cranes organized specifically for the ship," Mr. Hood said.

The ship would be equipped with a wide array of technological aids, including satellite navigation equipment, situation display radar, weather facsimile receiver to print out instant weather maps, automatic pilot and equipment to operate and monitor all engineroom functions.

Normally, a ship of this size would carry about 16 crew.

In the accommodation area would be rest rooms with beds, television lounge and an aircrafttype galley stocked with prepared meals at each port.

"A lot of people said we were doing something revolutionary, which made me angry, and there was a lot of resistance to the project on that basis," Mr. Hood said.

"It is unusual in a number of respects, but there is nothing new in the level of technology used to achieve it. What we are aiming for is a very professional kind of seagoing operation." For additional information, contact Geoff Dixon, Australian Information Service, 636 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10020.

Other stories from September 15, 1978 issue


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