New thruster arises

Hydromaster - '"We see a good potential for this type of thruster..."

The joint development of a new fully azimuthing, 360-degree thruster, making docking easy and propulsion fast, has arisen as a result of a contract for nine new passenger vessels.

Hydromaster has joined forces with Damen to equip the new vessels, six of which are hybrid carbon-fibre water buses requiring a thruster that has not been seen before. Renowned for their sturdy, fully-mechanical design, Hydromaster thrusters propel hundreds of ferries, ships, barges and pontoons every day – all over the world.

“It’s actually the kind of thruster you would expect to see on a pleasure craft,” says Damen design and proposal engineer Ferries Jan van Ooijen. “On a passenger vessel, though, we needed something more manoeuvrable and robust.”

Hydromaster commercial manager Jan Terlouw explains. “We had already been working on something that would meet these requirements. A 375kW thruster, able to operate at speeds of up to and beyond 25 knots and durable enough to cover over 4,000 hours each year. But we had never built it. Once Damen signed its contract with Blue Amigo, we got the green light to go ahead.”

Hydromaster worked with MARIN, the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands, to develop the hydromechanics necessary to produce the thruster.  MARIN was able to provide the detailed calculations that would facilitate a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) study and the fine-tuning of Hydromaster’s design.

Jesse Slot project manager ships at MARIN said, “It’s always a challenge to strike a balance between efficiency and vibration. Because of the high speed required in this instance, it took us some time to get where we needed to be.”  Using its extensive experience and conducting a thorough assessment of Damen’s hull design, MARIN was able to come up with the solution – a propeller of 840mm diameter with a clearance of 23% diameter from the hull -reducing vibration to a minimum and allowing for increased efficiency.

To control the thruster, Damen has developed in-house a single joystick controller that is intuitive to use and fulfills the circle of efficiency offered by the thruster.

Jan van Ooijen says, “This is a compact installation that takes the concept of standardised shipbuilding and applies it on another level. The result maximises the performance of the vessel and offers the reliability required for a ferry service. We can see a future for this type of thruster.”

Jan Terlouw agrees, “We have already started to extend this range of High Speed Azimuth thrusters with a higher power output towards the 900 kW mark. We see a good potential for this type of thruster, not only for fast ferries, but also for example on crew transfer vessels for the offshore wind sector, supporting the production of sustainable energy, and other fast craft.”

The new additions to the Waterbus service, complete with new thrusters, will operate a fast inter-city service between Rotterdam and the Drecht cities in the Netherlands.

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