CSIRO awards deck machinery contract

R/V Investigator. Graphic courtesy of Alion Science R/V Investigator. Graphic courtesy of Alion Science

Rapp Hydema and Triplex have been awarded a deck machinery contract for Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO).

The design, build and commissioning of the vessel will be carried out by selected Teekay Holdings Australia and Sembawang Shipyard Pte Ltd, and RALion has been appointed to
carry out the vessel basic design.

The new vessel, named the Investigator, is scheduled for mid-2013 delivery, with the consolidated deck and handling machinery package due for delivery in the third quarter of 2012.

This is the fifth major Rapp and Triplex research contract in recent months - preceded by complete winch suites already contracted to outfit two US government vessels, along with contracts for complete outfitting of the new South African and Namibian research vessels under construction at STX Finland.

The scientific research winch package includes six different winches with lifting capacities of 3.1 to 37.6 tons for a giant piston corer operation at extreme water depths. On the fisheries side, there are two Rapp TWS 7590E-T90 trawl winches, each with 35 tons of first-layer line pull. A net drum with dividers for the sweep lines is also included, along with two smaller utility winches.

Demonstrating the scale of the deck machinery package, the new vessel will include three winch rooms, and yet even with such accommodations, space issues have posed a great challenge. Approximately 180 tons of deck and handling machinery, with an installed-power footprint of 1800kW, has posed special challenges in design. In close cooperation with SSPL/Teekay and RALion, Rapp specialists are continuing work on best possible options for operational lay-out, wire-routing and weight-reduction approaches.

The CSIRO contract allows Rapp and Triplex to showcase latest technologies and R&D triumphs. Among others, the electric winch package features VFDs (variable-frequency drives) of the AFE (Active Front End) type. Drive voltage is 690-volt AC, 3-phase, 50 Hertz, which is fast becoming the standard for the research vessel mission. Given the challenges of Arctic-Antarctic operations, winches are to be placed below decks in order to reduce corrosion and ice-ups. Another newer technology aboard will be an Active Heave Compensation (AHC) package; Rapp has provided this technology to several customers in recent years, especially in the ROV and offshore oil sectors. The winches are also equipped with Rapp's electrically-driven, electronic synchronised level wind systems, for easy adjustment and change in the spooling pitch. This level wind system has become the new standard for research winches in recent years.

Rapp is also providing its patented liquid-cooled motor to power some of the winches. Finally, Rapp is providing its latest mission-specific upgrades of its long-running PTS Pentagon winch control technology, in the Research C-Bus version (for the scientific winch package management) and Fisheries C-Bus (for the fishery winches suite). The Pentagon management system offers tension control and auto-rendering features, among various others.

The Triplex side of the package is no less impressive in its scope with the special focus on efficient and safe handling of the different scientific packages.

A 30-ton telescopic corer boom, a Multi-Corer Pipe Handler, Corer Pipe Davits, a 20-ton Aft A-Frame with 170⁰ stroke and a 6-ton CTD Overhead Crane are just the highlights. There are two substantial power units, totalling 180kW, and two pair of Towing Booms (fore and aft) as well.

The new vessel, which will replace the Southern Surveyor will be capable of operating continuously for 60 days at sea, cruising at 12 knots over a range of 10,000 nautical miles.

It will be engineered to adapt to support a broad range of sophisticated scientific activities by multi-disciplinary teams.


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