A dock with the lot

Posted: August 1, 2010 in Marine, Power Generation

Floating dock uses a 2000 kVA Cummins genset to power all the dock’s functions when it is manoeuvring and disconnected from shore supply.

Cummins generator sets have a key role in the operation of the most technologically advanced floating dock in the world.

The $60 million floating dock is located at the Australian Marine Complex (AMC) at Henderson near Perth.

Built by WA company Strategic Marine, the impressive structure – 99 metres long and 53 metres wide – is considered the new world benchmark for floating dock design with its fully automated ballast and manoeuvring systems.

A 2000 kVA Cummins generator set – backed up by a 577 kVA unit – powers all the floating dock’s functions when the dock is manoeuvring and disconnected from shore supply.

The dock can lift vessels weighing up to 12,000 tonnes out of the water for service and maintenance and also facilitate the water-to-land transfer of vessels up to 3,500 tonnes.

The dock’s capabilities are vital for supporting the Royal Australian Navy’s Collins Class submarine fleet which will be serviced at the AMC until at least 2032.

The way the dock works is simple: It moves into place and is lowered into a dredged 18-metre deep sink pocket, allowing the vessel to be moved into the dock and then lifted out of the water.

The dock-to-land transfer is achieved using a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) system which cost $18 million and comprises six-axle, four-axle and three-axle low-loader units running on 512 wheels in total.

The dock’s 4,400 tonne base was built at Strategic Marine’s Vietnamese shipyard and then delivered to the AMC via a Dockwise semi-submersible vessel.

Fabrication of the 1,000 tonne steel sidewalls and other superstructure was carried out locally and installed by Strategic Marine at the AMC. All the control equipment, including the generator seats, are installed in the sidewalls which have a width of 44 metres.

The main 2000 kVA genset is powered by one of Cummins’ biggest diesel engines, the QSK60, a 60-litre V16. The auxiliary 577 kVA genset is powered by the 19-litre Cummins K19.

Royal Australian Navy’s Collins class submarine in the floating dock.

The gensets have no small task in providing power for the dock which uses a sophisticated computerised control system for ballasting and manoeuvring. The dock can be moved within the harbour simply by entering GPS coordinates on a touch screen.

Six automated winches move the dock in a number of predetermined positions and hold it steady during load-on/load-off procedures.

No other floating dock in the world can move in more than one direction, and few have the ability to transfer and offload vessels.

The ballast control system maintains buoyancy and stability by sensing the depth of the dock, the bending stress, the angle of heel and trim, and water levels within the 24 ballast tanks.

The floating dock project underpinned a strong working relationship between Cummins in Perth and Strategic Marine.

The two companies have collaborated on 20 new crewboat projects in the last couple of years involving 53 big bore Cummins engines – a mix of KTA38s and KTA50s – plus 38 generators sets.

Established in 2001, Strategic Marine has rapidly evolved into a global ship building player, with yards in Western Australia, Vietnam, Singapore and Mexico.

While initially focusing on high-speed aluminium patrol boats for government agencies and crew boats for the offshore oil and gas industry, the company in recent years has branched into the construction of larger steel vessels at its Vietnamese yard.

Mark Newbold, chairman of Strategic Marine, said that too often in large projects Western Australian business was overlooked for short term gain through cheaper prices from overseas companies. To compete with this, he said Strategic Marine had developed its own offshore production facilities to be a true global competitor.

“The floating dry dock has provided Strategic Marine a platform to showcase our global manufacturing capacity, not only in ship building but also in highly technical construction projects,” he said.

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