Tailor-made solutions better adapted to operational needs
The 38-metre ocean-going buoy tender, Provence, was built in 1989 for the subdivision of Phares et Balises, based in Marseille, to maintain beaconage in the Mediterranean. Armement des Phares et Balises has been progressively retrofitting the installations on board the Provence since 2015 to resolve obsolescence issues. Following the replacement of the control and management systems of the Voith thrusters, followed by the hydraulic equipment, the shipowner put out to tender the refurbishment of the propulsion system: the thrusters’ direct-current motor variation cabinets, the associated driving chain and wheelhouse plates. The tender also included an option for the bow thruster. Within the framework of this European call for tenders, BARILLEC Marine’s technical offer was retained. It consisted of the replacement of the variable speed drives of the two main propulsion units of 2 x 330 kW and of the control system of the bow thruster’s electric motors (209 kW).
“We selected the whole offer in the interest of consistency,” explains Benoît Vigot, technical manager of Armement des Phares et Balises, based in Quimper. “The success of the operation is largely due to the attentiveness and responsiveness of BARILLEC Marine’s teams, which were able to adapt to our constraints and with which our own teams coordinated the work perfectly.”
“Victor Bourdin, our superintendent for the Mediterranean, the crew and the BARILLEC Marine project team met to define the operating constraints (port manoeuvres, free sailing, beaconage work with and without dynamic positioning, etc.) and the technical constraints linked to the existing installation on the ship (power of the units, responsiveness and availability of this power, communication and interaction with the Voith thruster management system and with the dynamic positioning system, information to be used for optimal operation, etc.).”
An efficient system and a local service
“We met at our premises in Concarneau,” explains Alexandre Ermel, BARILLEC Marine’s project manager, “and then on site in Marseille to examine the parameters necessary to identify the technical limits of the system and to enable us to conduct a study to implement the project approved by the shipowner. We carried out all the engineering work and also drew up the production and integration plans. Our workshops in Concarneau created the drawings and made the plates, and also carried out the pre-wiring of the electrical cabinets.”
“After the workshop tests at the beginning of the year, in the presence of Bureau Veritas, Victor Bourdin and myself, everything was shipped to Marseille,” explains Benoît Vigot. “The on-board installation, scheduled for April, was postponed due to the health crisis and began in mid-September. The work lasted a month and was part of the vessel’s planned maintenance system in La Seyne-sur-Mer. BARILLEC Marine’s work took place at the same time as that of many different companies that were working on the ship and the shipyard teams coordinated their tasks perfectly, keeping to schedules and deadlines.”
Following the on-board installation process, several tests were carried out, first out of the water once the systems were wired, then alongside the quay and at sea, which enabled the propulsion chain to be approved with the shipowner and Bureau Veritas.
Reliability and energy optimisation
“Before, we were mainly concerned about reliability due to the obsolescence of the ageing system,” explains the shipowner’s technical manager. “In addition, there were significant repair costs, particularly for the manufacturing of new printed circuit boards. The new system continuously provides information that allows us to optimise power with finer threshold settings. It comprises state-of-the-art equipment that is more efficient and reliable. We have an interconnected man-machine interface that reads the parameters and status of the components in real time. It is really beneficial for the navigation, operation and maintenance of the vessel. We can fine-tune the power required, which also allows us to optimise energy management efficiently.”
Thinking about the fleet’s renewal
“Within the framework of a retrofit, this type of installation with advanced technologies responds, on the one hand, to the need to recover the reliability of the system and, on the other, to the capacities of the existing vessel. It also gives us food for thought regarding the future. We aim to use more eco-friendly technologies and to move towards zero-emission propulsion for our ships in the future,” explains Benoît Vigot. “This can be done by using battery power or other technical solutions.
The plan to modernise the Affaires Maritimes 2022 fleet, which includes nine new ships (of which two coastal buoy tenders have already been built and one is currently being put out to tender), coupled with the national recovery plan and the French government’s desire to turn its ports green with suitable solutions, should enable us to launch new calls for tenders in the near future, including an ocean-going buoy tender in around 2021.”