Article

Innovative crew transfer vessel with suspension system by Wallaby Boats


published on 26 April 2021 722

The innovative and newly set up ship builder Wallaby Boats GmbH (WB), based in Kappeln, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, has decided in the investment to build the world’s first crew transfer vessel/daughter craft (CTV/DC) with a suspension system.

The demonstrator “WB-18 Wind”, will be an 18 meter vessel equipped with the ‘WB wind-module’ in order to act as a CTV in the offshore wind industry. The wind-module can be modified to sit and optionally sleep a variable number of industrial personnel. The normal arrangement sits 23 industrial personnel in total, 18 persons in the module cabin plus five in the cockpit area.

“I started working on this project in 2015, when I tested the 8,5 meter demonstrator in Australia. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to operate the world’s first commercial boat with a suspension system. All my team is committed to this project and we are convinced that this new technology will be a game-changer in the offshore wind industry as well as in pilot transfer operations worldwide.” (Harald Hübner, Managing Director OFFCON GmbH)

Milestones on the way to Final Investment Decision (FID) were the high interest of various offshore wind developers in cooperation with The Carbon Trust and finally the support from EnBW who is committing to the development of the WB-18 demonstrator with funds and a long-term WINDTIME charter following the Sea Acceptance Test (SAT). The demonstrator will be owned by the yard Wallaby Boats and operated under a SHIPMAN contract by OFFCON GmbH, also from Kappeln.

“We are very thankful to EnBW for their valuable commitment and support. Finally, we formed a strong team together with NautiCraft, EnBW, local and public financial institutions: IB SH, MBG and Förde Sparkasse as well as the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) who support us under the project “innovative ship building” and private investors. This strong team paved the projects’ path to success.” (Eike Kristian Höper, Managing Director Wallaby Boats GmbH)

Initially it is planned to operate the WB-18 out of Barhöft (GER) for EnBW Baltic-1 and Klintholm (DK) for Baltic-2. After
successful heavy weather trials in the Baltic Sea the prototype shall be tested in the rougher environment of the North Sea and the English Channel.

“EnBW is getting involved in this highly promising project to expedite the increase of safety and performance at the wind turbine generator (WTG)) and reduce invest and operational expenditure (CAPEX/OPEX) at the same time. We are convinced that the WB-CTV with suspension technology (© by Nauti-Craft) are a key to reaching this goal.” (Dr.-Ing. Sven Unterberger, Senior Consultant Business Development Generation).

It is planned to show the boat at various in-water boat-shows such as SeaWork in Southampton, WindEnergy in Hamburg, OffshoreEnergy in Amsterdam, WFO-Helgoland and others. During the long-term test phase in charter with EnBW the vessel will also be available to other interested parties, which should contact the sales department (best via the form on the homepage) at an early stage.

The suspension system, developed and designed by Nauti-Craft Pty Ltd from Dunsborough, Western Australia allows the rather small vessel to provide unseen performance in harsh weather conditions. ADAMS simulations have shown a safe transfer, as defined by Carbon Trust (definition of 2017), at 2.1 meters significant wave height for the WB-18 in full loading condition. The advantage of suspended boats is not only the unrivalled increase of wave performance of rather small boats at the WTG but also the reduction of noise, motion and g-forces applied to personnel during transit. This reduces the risk of seasickness and other health issues significantly and contributes to a safer work environment.

The reduction of boat size for the same wave performance possibly even at higher speeds reduces the CAPEX by up to 30% and OPEX by ca. 50%. Another important aspect on the way to “net zero” is the significant saving in resources by building a smaller boat with the same wave performance achieved at the WTG.

Basically, the vessel is a catamaran. The suspension system is placed between the hulls and the so-called chassis. Propulsion and power generation is placed in the hulls. Hydraulic unit, batteries and accumulators are placed in the crawlspace of the chassis with easy access for repairs and maintenance from the multi-functional working deck. For daily inspections all components are reached from the cockpit area. This arrangement “hides” all technical units below and allows for maximum use of the obstacle free deck for cargo, passengers, tools/equipment and landing areas for automatic crew lifts - like the Get Up Safe System - onto WTG.

Additional safety during winter operations is provided by heated walkways and handrails. The vessel is equipped with a fully integrated bridge system. Electronic charts (ECDIS) and automation are available in a highly sophisticated “glass cockpit”, which also provides full control over the suspension system.
Wallaby Boats GmbH – the name is a tribute to the Australian DNA of the boats – has an exclusive license agreement with Nauti Craft and will initially design and build a range of boats from 14 meter DC to 20 meter CTV. Following the prototype WB-18 Wallaby Boats intends to build the WB-14/15 as a daughter craft (for e.g. SOVs). This size of boats will be produced in composite materials in Denmark for the European market. The daughter crafts are intended to be launched and recovered either with a standard davit arrangement or an A-frame, allowing handsfree operation. The WB-16/18/20 will be built from aluminum at various locations close to their markets as Wallaby Boats is aiming for net zero carbon footprint in production and operation of the vessels. Furthermore, the demonstrator is going to be built i.a.w. ISO 18001, Blue Angel “Shipbuilding” and EU SRR (“green ship”) standards. During the construction phase, Wallaby Boats will consider the options of alternative propulsion for the next hull numbers, taking into account the then current state of the art and availability of required logistics. In Europe boats will be built in Germany and Denmark, for the US market two production locations, one on each coast, are planned and for the APAC region a production partner in Singapore is very likely.

“The fact that the world’s first commercial boat using Nauti-Craft Marine Suspension Technology is finally on the horizon is tremendously exciting,” stated Mark Schiller, Managing Director Nauti Craft Pty Ltd. “It may be the first CTV/DC with suspension the world has ever seen but mark my words, this is only the beginning of a very big wave. This move successfully paves the way for further optimization of cutting-edge technology in the offshore wind industry and its inevitable success is testimony to the expertise and unwavering determination to succeed by Wallaby and all other players involved in the program”.

For the prototype Wallaby Boats has selected Lloyds Register as classification society. Other societies will be available according clients request. The first boat is intended to fly the German flag as it is expected that any other flag is possible once the hurdles of the challenging German flag have been taken.
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