Page 52: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (July 2001)

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Podded Propulsion

Podded Propulsion Goes Beyond the Cruise Realm

Each of the Mermaid pod propulsors for Celebrity Cruises' Millennium ship is rated at 19.5 MW and swings a 5.7 m diameter fixed pitch propeller. Mermaid has been jointly developed by Rolls-Royce in partnership with Alstom Power Conversion.

By David Tinsley, technical editor

Compelling design and opera- tional arguments in favor of podded electric drives can be expected to transcend any negative impressions formed from the recent clutch of problems and complications expe- rienced with such systems in cer- tain cruise ship and ferry applica- tions. Experience has shown that technical innovation in the mar- itime field has invariably been accompanied by early setbacks in some shape or form. In an industry where conservatism is the order of the day. and understandably so where assets are subjected to the rigors of the elements as well as the vicissitudes of the markets, those operators willing to be the standard bearers with new technology pro- vide a beacon for the wider mar- itime community.

In some segments, most especial- ly the domain of large cruise ves- sels. the podded option has forever altered the established position of standard propulsion arrangements.

As has been witnessed over the past

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Circle 257 on Reader Service Card www. maritimereporterinfo. com 12 months, an ever-widening apprecia- tion of the merits of podded electric propulsors has spread the reference list to new areas, including crude oil tankers, survey ships and offshore sup- port vessels. Soon, the concept will make its seagoing debut in the RoRo ferry sector.

From establishing a commitment to 'power station'-type plant and electric propulsion drives, it can be just a short, further step to fostering the adoption of a pod. This remarkable, generic device encapsulates the electric motor and can deliver full thrust in any direction, dis- pensing with the need for conventional shaftline. propeller and rudder.

Intense competition between a handful of producers, in each case melding the expertise of specialists in electrical engi- neering and propulsion co-venturers, is of itself enhancing the scope and the attraction of podded systems, through design development and a solution- based approach to new powering and propulsion options. For instance, pods are now being proposed within hybrid systems to meet the powering needs of the envisioned breed of ultra-large con- tainerships, while new design variants have been developed specifically for smaller-ship applications, bringing major new areas of the market within the ambit of podded drives.

Superior maneuvering capabilities, increased hydrodynamic and drive sys- tem efficiencies, overall energy gains, and the shipboard space savings and design flexibility associated with elec- tric pod propulsion give a solid founda- tion to consideration of the podded options. Building on a long track record in thruster technology, and underscoring a propensity for maritime innovation, the Finns were the leaders in the podded drive concept. The first contractual ref- erence for the Azipod system originated by ABB Industry and Kvaerner Masa-

Yards (KMY) gave the design its opera- tional debut in 1991.

While various specialized vessels for ice navigation have carried the concept forward, the large-scale recourse to the system by leading operators in the cruise shipping sector within the past few years has constituted one of the outstanding aspects of propulsion system develop- ment over the past decade. Since 1997, the business activities for the system have been managed by ABB Azipod of

Helsinki, in which ABB Industry is the majority shareholder, complemented by 44 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News

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