MMHE clinches contracts worth $86.34m

Malaysia-listed shipbuilder Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering (MMHE) has clinched various contracts worth a total of MYR324 million (USD86.34 million) from the upstream oil and gas sector, as well as in ship maintenance deals.
The contracts won by MMHE comprise of working with South Korea-based

Yokohama’s exports rise in March

Japan’s Yokohama port’s exports rose 10.8% year on year (y/y) in March, to 2.959 million tonnes of cargo.
Imports rose 7% y/y in March to 3.261 million tonnes.
However, the port’s overall traffic decreased because of lower domestic trade.
Domestic trade fell 4.8% y/y to 3.714 million tonnes of

Numerical Towing Tanks, a practical reality?

By MarEx 2015-06-16 17:40:45

By Stephen Ferguson, CD-adapco

Since the first commercial ship basin was commissioned in 1883, towing tanks have provided naval architects with a reliable method of predicting the performance of a ship at sea. Towing tanks are used for both resistance and propulsion tests, with towed and self-propelled ship models used to determine how much power the engine will have to provide to achieve the speed laid down in the contract between shipyard and ship owner.

The performance of a vessel depends on the hydrodynamic interaction between the hull, its propulsion system and its rudder, which all combine to interact with the environmental conditions. The flow past the hull influences the flow past the rudder, which in turn affects the quality of flow “seen” by the propellor. While it is certainly possible to obtain useful design information from experiments (or simulations) that investigate these components individually, in order to predict the at-sea performance of a vessel with a high degree of accuracy, it is necessary to include all three components in a single model. This is particularly important with the current demand for energy efficient “green ships” which is driven by a combination of legislation and economic necessity. Energy savings of a few percent can significantly influence the operational viability of a vessel.

However, the cost and effort of producing a model and testing it, means that towing tanks are usually deployed relatively late in the design cycle, verifying and fine tuning an established design, rather than providing engineering data that could be used to drive the design into different, better, directions. In addition, any novel solution tested at model scale has increased uncertainty of actual performance at ship scale due to deficiencies of the scaling process.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (or CFD) has long been touted as a credible alternative to tank testing, providing a “numerical” model basin that could, at least in principle, be deployed much earlier in the design process, providing naval architects with a stream of engineering data that could be used to influence and improve the design. CFD also carries the distinct advantage of result accuracy independent of the scale at which they are calculated.

However, up until recently, that prospect has been limited by a number of challenges inherent in the CFD simulation process. In this article we consider how advances in CFD and hardware technology have addressed those concerns, and consider whether fully featured numerical towing tanks are finally now a practical proposition.

CHALLENGE 1: Meshing

CFD simulations solve the fundamental equations of fluid dynamics, through a process known as “discretization” in which a volume occupied by the fluids (both water and air) surrounding the vessel in subdivided into a number of much smaller control volumes (known as computational cells). Depending on the software used, these control volumes can be tetrahedra (four faced pyramids), hexahedra (six faced bricks) or polyhedra (control volumes with an arbitrary number of faces).

Constructing a computational mesh is one of the most important parts in conducting a CFD simulation, and always represents a compromise between accuracy and computational cost.

In practical terms, a “fine mesh” that is constructed from a large number of small computational cells provides a more accurate prediction than a “coarse mesh” of larger cells. However, a greater number of cells results in a larger computational cost, requiring more computer resources and longer simulation times compared with a coarser mesh. Since the computer resources available for a given simulation are finite and, in order to be useful, simulation results must be provided within a reasonable time-scale, CFD engineers have to choose how they spend their cells wisely, deploying smaller cells in areas of high rate of change close to the vessel and its wake, transitioning to larger cells further away.

Historically, providing a computational mesh that is fine enough to capture the hull, rudder and propeller in a single simulation has been challenging, and engineers have often been forced to consider the components in separate simulations (and accounting for their interactions using boundary conditions).

However, recent developments in automatic meshing technology (that provide a high quality grid with minimal manual interaction from the engineer), computer hardware (which provides lower cost computational resources) and licensing (which reduces the cost of running simulations across multiple processors) has made self-propulsion and maneuvering tests a practical proposition.

CHALLENGE 2: Wave and Water Physics

In order to accurately predict the performance of a vessel, the numerical simulation has to correctly predict for both the influence of the vessel on the surrounding sea (wake predictions) as well as the increase in resistance caused by waves.

This represents a much greater challenge than the type of “single fluid” simulations that can be used to investigate an aircraft, land-vehicle, or fully submerged vessel.

Many CFD tools deploy a “Volume of Fluid” approach that assigns a value of “1” to cells that contain water, and a value of “0” to cells that contain air. In cells marked “1” the physical properties of water are used, in the cells marked “0” the properties of air are used.

STAR-CCM+ deploys a “High Resolution Interface Capture” scheme to accurately capture the position of the free surface between water and air; this is necessary to prevent the free surface from diffusing (with cells that have a value that is somewhere between “1” and “0”). This method ensures that the interaction between the vessel and the free-surface can be accurately captured. STAR-CCM+ also provides a range of built-in higher-order wave models that can be used to test the vessel under realistic sea states.

Additionally, STAR-CCM+ also includes an extensively validated cavitation model that can be used to predict and manage the phase changes caused by the propeller.

CHALLENGE 3: Vessel Motion

Unlike the simulation of an aircraft or road-vehicle, which in ideal circumstances moves forward in a single direction, the forward progress of a ship is heavily influenced by the surrounding sea-state. Even in still water, establishing the dynamic position of the ship in relation to the sea surface (“sink and trim”) is critical to providing accurate resistance predictions. In rough seas, the full motion of the vessel in six-degrees-of-freedom must be correctly accounted for, as the vessel pitches, rolls and heaves in response to oncoming waves.

STAR-CCM+ accounts for 6DOF vessel motion in an automatic manner. The “Dynamic Fluid- Body Interaction” model integrates the forces acting on the vessel at every time step, and adjusts its position (in all-six-degrees-of-freedom) accordingly.

“Adjusts its position” means moving the computational mesh, which historically has been a difficult proposition, and various methods have been used to account for this motion. For relatively small movements, the vertices of cells in the mesh can be adjusted on a step-by-step basis. However, for large movements, this becomes impractical as individual cells become highly distorted, leading to inaccuracies in, or failure of, the simulation.

STAR-CCM+, uniquely among commercial CFD codes, solves this problem using “overset” or “chimera” meshes, in which the mesh around the vessel is independent of the mesh used to represent the sea. This allows the simulated ship to move as much as necessary. Furthermore, it can be used to model the interaction between multiple vessels or objects, such as one ship moving independently in the wake of another, or the collision of two vessels. Also, with overset mesh, the rotation of the propeller and rudder motion, in addition to propeller pitching, can all be modeled in relation to the ship motion, leading to robust, accurate self-propulsion and maneuvering analysis.


Having addressed the three main challenges to replicating the performance tests, CFD is now able to provide a useful tool to augment, if not replace, towing tank testing. Comparisons between STAR-CCM+ and tow-tank simulations have demonstrated a high degree of correlation between the two methods (typically within a few percentage points [1],[2]). Furthermore, CFD simulations also have the advantage that they can easily be deployed at full-scale if desired, reducing the uncertainty inherent in model scaling.

Although it is unlikely that any large vessel will be designed in the foreseeable future without some aid from towing tanks, CFD is now routinely being used as part of the design process by ship builders and naval architects across the world. Used effectively, CFD simulation can be used to reduce the amount and cost of physical towing tank tests by providing a more refined and optimized design that requires fewer modifications in order to meet contractual obligations.

It is also true that in certain parts of the industry, such as in the design of the high-performance vessels that compete in the America’s Cup, towing tanks have been dispensed of entirely in favor of CFD. The winning yacht in the 37th America’s Cup was designed using STAR-CCM+, as will be yachts raced by Ben Ainslie Racing and Luna Rossa in the next America’s Cup.

What of the future? Unlike towing tanks, once you have developed a robust process for simulating the performance of a vessel, it is relatively easy to automate it. This opens the door to both “automated design exploration,” where the proposed vessel is subjected to a wide range of potential operating scenarios, and “optimization,” where the design of the vessel is automatically adjusted to account for deficiencies in the performance identified in previous simulations.

Widespread adoption of this approach will not only lead to more innovative and efficient ship designs (which can be developed at lower cost), but also more robust vessels that have been numerically tested against a much wider range of real-world operating conditions than could ever be considered using a towing tank alone.





Grand Finale for Infamous Glomar Explorer – Part 1

By Tony Munoz 2015-06-16 16:46:50

The story of the Glomar Explorer spans four decades and involves a Soviet nuclear missile submarine, the CIA and an eccentric billionaire. The tale is worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, but the real-life story of the Glomar Explorer eclipses any fiction Tinsel Town could concoct.

The vessel’s history is steeped in international intrigue. The $350-million drillship – an engineering marvel that was far ahead of its time – was built for Global Marine, a company owned by Howard Hughes, the eccentric American businessman. It was supposedly to be used to extract manganese nodules from the ocean floor and was constructed at Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock (remember Sun Oil Company – Sunoco?) in Chester, Pennsylvania. Its maiden voyage took place on June 21, 1974.

Over the years, Global Marine executives and others have testified in federal court that the Glomar Explorer wasn’t really built to mine manganese but was designed and constructed specifically to get something much most precious to the U.S. off the seabed.(Original CIA Image of K-129 Submarine on Seafloor)

Project Azorian was the code name for the covert CIA project whose real goal was the recovery of a Soviet nuclear missile submarine, which was lost in 1968 about 1,500 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii. The U.S. Air Force had captured sonic recordings of an explosion that took place on March 8, 1968. Subsequently, it was able to localize the latitude and longitude of the Soviet submarine, and the U.S. Navy conducted a deep-sea reconnaissance mission that took over 20,000 photographs of the sunken Soviet K-129 submarine.

President Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger approved the mission, which created significant engineering challenges as the 2,000-ton submarine lay at 17,000 feet on the ocean floor. At the time, the deepest-ever salvage operation had taken place at a mere 245 feet and recovered a satellite bucket weighing only a couple of hundred pounds.

In order to carry out the mission, a massive claw-like apparatus was built by Lockheed to fit the sub’s exact specifications. It was affectionately called “Clementine” and weighed 2,170 tons and consisted of two steel beams that were 179 feet long and 31 feet wide.

The Glomar Explorer itself was 618 feet long with a 115-foot beam, which was too large to transit the Panama Canal. So after sea trials it began its long voyage on June 21, 1974 around South America to Long Beach, which included a stop at Valparaiso, Chile to collect a few more Global Marine employees.

The evening before the ship was scheduled to arrive in Chile, a military coup overthrew the government. There were 178 people onboard the vessel including the crew and members of the CIA. It sailed out of port without incident, but it was a close call just the same.

The U.S. Navy had used a large network of hydrophones, which can distinguish military ships and submarines from ordinary maritime traffic, to locate the K-129 on the ocean floor. The camera onboard a Navy ship showed a 10-foot hole had been blown through the right side of the sub below the conning tower. It was assumed the explosion took place as the sub was recharging its batteries, which give off hydrogen gas, and was most likely ignited by a spark from the engines.

The Glomar Explorer finally reached its destination on July 4, 1974, but inclement weather delayed the salvage operation for several days. Around the same time as the recovery cage was being lowered into the ocean, the Soviet warship Chazhma arrived on the scene carrying a Kamov Ka-25 helicopter. A Soviet naval tug arrived as well to help in monitoring the U.S. ship’s operations.

The Glomar team had to carry on its operations with the Soviet Navy watching. To prevent the Soviet helicopter from landing onboard, boxes were stacked on deck, but what caused the most anxiety during the operation was debris that might float to the surface once the sub was lifted off the ocean floor.

(Computer Generated Image of Recovery Operation. Image Courtesy of filmmaker MIchael White)

Such a disaster almost took place on August 4 as the sub was being raised. At about 6,700 feet, the crew noticed that two-thirds of the vessel had broken off and only about 38 feet were left in the claw. On August 9, the same day that Richard Nixon resigned as President, the CIA and Glomar team lifted the remains of the sub into the ship’s gigantic moon pool.

As the CIA inspected the wreckage, several important documents and manuals were recovered. But the most pressing issue was the discovery of several bodies of the 98 crewmen who died in the sub’s explosion. While three of the crew members were identified, the rest were not. By September, all of the bodies were recovered and were buried at sea with full honors.

Image of the “Hughes” Glomar Explorer in Long Beach 1974. Image Courtesy TedQuackenbush (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Glomar Explorer returned to Long Beach in September 1974 with a number of crates recovered from the sub. The sub itself was transported to the naval submarine base in Bangor, Washington. But the CIA wanted the rest of the vessel that remained on the ocean floor.

Operation Matadorwas now in play, but the media found out about the secret mission and the story became front-page news. The Soviet Ambassador to the U.S. demanded an explanation from the Ford Administration. While Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did not admit what the operation was about, the plan to recover the rest of the sub was scrapped.

In 1976, the U.S. General Services Administration considered leasing the Glomar Explorer, but the deal never came about. In September of that year, the U.S. Navy acquired the vessel, which was added to its auxiliary operations. The ship was laid up in Suisun Bay in the San Francisco Bay area but was kept a safe distance from other laid-up ships due to concerns about residual radiation.

This article features writing contributions from Wendy Laursen and Kathryn Stone

(Stay Tuned – Part 2 Will Be Published Tomorrow)

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.


Petrobras Likely to Delay Spending Cuts

By Reuters 2015-06-16 02:22:52

Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras will likely delay details of major cuts to its $221 billion five-year spending plan until July, two sources said, when the government plans to announce a rescue program for the industry.

Petrobas, which is struggling with a corruption scandal, falling oil prices, stagnant output, and the largest debt of any oil company, had planned to announce deep spending cuts, expected to be about 30 percent of the proposed spending, by the end of June.

However, executives at Petrobras have run into internal and political resistance to cuts given the major role the company plays in Brazil’s economy, a top Petrobras executive with direct knowledge of company discussions told Reuters.

The announcement will be delayed until at least July to coincide with a government rescue program for the industry, one of the sources, a senior member of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s ruling coalition said.

The government is only coming to terms with Petrobras’ economic fragility and how government efforts to increase control over the country’s natural resources could make Petrobras weaker still, the senior coalition member told Reuters.

Both officials requested anonymity because final details of the government’s and Petrobras’ plans have yet to be decided. Both have regular contact with Rousseff and other top government and Petrobras officials.

“The plan will be delayed until July to coincide with a government program for the entire industry,” the senior ruling- coalition member said. “The industry depends on Petrobras, and the government wants a coordinated response, but they also know they can’t wait too long.”


In recent years, Petrobras’ more than $40 billion of annual spending on ships, platforms, oil systems and refineries has been nearly double the Brazilian government’s own discretionary spending on infrastructure. Now, as Petrobras cuts back, the government, faced with inflation and a stagnant economy, is cutting its own budget too.

Meanwhile a price-fixing, bribery and corruption scandal has forced Petrobras to stop payment to leading suppliers, leading to bankruptcy filings by major contractors and widespread layoffs.

The government’s July oil plan is likely to mimic a program announced earlier this month to bolster shrinking government funds for investment in ports, highways and other infrastructure with private capital, one of the officials said.

Making Brazil’s oil industry more attractive to non-government investment from Brazil and abroad will require more than broad policy statements, the senior ruling-coalition official said.

That will require changes to Brazil’s 2010 oil law, the official said, most notably ending a requirement that Petrobras take a minimum 30 percent stake and serve as operator in any new development contracts in Brazil’s most prolific oil areas.

Ending the requirement, which would open development to international majors such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobile Corp, has been endorsed by Petrobras CEO Aldemir Bendine, the head of oil regulator ANP, and Brazil’s energy minister Eduardo Braga. All have said Petrobras can’t afford to lead all development.


The Senate expects to discuss such a change on June 30 and may present a bill to change the law under expedited debate and voting rules, Eunício Oliveira, head of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), said on Tuesday. The PMDB is the largest party in the Senate and the main coalition partner of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party (PT).

Oliveira said the bill would likely substitute a Petrobras right of first refusal to operate and participate financially in new areas in place of its current obligation.

“Petrobras doesn’t have the cash to take on 30 percent today,” Oliveira said. “Brazil changed, the economy changed, Petrobras changes and people need to adjust.”

Despite growing Senate support, a change is unlikely to be made by July, the official said, adding that it could possibly win Rousseff’s support. The official’s opinion is backed by a third source, a senior government bureaucrat involved in day-to-day oil-planning talks.

“We’re at the beginning,” the coalition official said. “Some want change, but not everyone. Few in Congress have thought about it. Then there’s the President, and it’s her law.”

Oil-industry officials, including some at Petrobras, also want Brazilian-content requirements, blamed for higher costs and project delays, eased. Rousseff has said she won’t change them.