Oct 12, 2023 | Ship classification news

In a development programme starting in summer 2022 and working closely from the outset with classification society Bureau Veritas, Damen Shipyards has developed and gained approval in principle (AiP) for designs of methanol-powered compact vessels.

According to Damen, LNG carriers set the standards for this type of fuel, but their size has resulted in rules that are very different from those required by much smaller vessels. Clearly a new design approach was needed to make the rules applicable for workboats.

By working closely firstly with Bureau Veritas and later with the Dutch and Belgian flag authorities, Damen can now offer designs for a wide range of methanol-powered workboats. These range from tugs, stationary dredgers and high-speed vessels to fast crew suppliers, pilot boats, patrol craft and fast ferries, as and when the engines for these types of vessels become available.

The framework lays out the design modifications that are required to ensure that methanol-powered workboats have standards of safety at least equal to their diesel-fuelled equivalents. Part of the process involved identifying existing rules that were not applicable to smaller vessels so they could be replaced with alternative solutions, and then identifying and analysing the risks. The Damen team had an additional goal; to develop standardised solutions that could be used across the workboat portfolio.

The initial proposals were presented to Bureau Veritas and thereafter changes were implemented in a back-and-forth process. With the collaboration with Bureau Veritas working well, Damen brought on board the flag states of the Netherlands and Belgium on the basis that flag states would need to give their own approvals before vessels can be built. The Netherlands and Belgium were selected as among the most likely early adopters of sustainable workboats.

The next stage was the establishment of a Hazard Identification Workshop. Chaired by an independent expert, solutions were presented, alternative designs proposed, and additional measures and safeguards identified where required. Obtaining the input of all the key stakeholders at a relatively early stage helped reduce the time required to implement all the changes and so achieve approval in principle in a relatively short time.

Pieter Spruijt, Technical Specialist Alternative Fuels and Damen System Owner Methanol Systems said: “We are very pleased to now have the approvals in principle. One of the interesting outcomes of the design process is that the methanol storage and fuel systems will take up less space than they would have under the prescriptive rules. Small vessels present a real challenge with space at such a premium, but our designs will not only keep the vessels compact, they will also be more sustainable as they will not require additional inputs when being built. This is another step forward in Damen’s ambition to be the world’s most sustainable shipbuilder.” 

Herman Spilker, Bureau Veritas VP North Europe said: “Bureau Veritas had the privilege of assisting Damen in achieving an approval in principle for a modular-based methanol fuel system. Several innovative technical solutions for compact ships were devised and successfully underwent the approval and Hazid process under the oversight of the acknowledged Flag States of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Belgium. We look forward to assisting Damen in the construction of the inaugural unit.”

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