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M/T "Stolt Capability"
 
 

- the most Complex and Sophisticated Chemical Parcel Tanker on the Oceans -
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
- at anchor off Panama in 1999 -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)




With the introduction of this ship from the nineties, we are suddenly in a completely different world compared to the previous ships in my series of ships on which I have served during the last 37 years.
The "Stolt Capability" was the 6th. ship in a series of 7 "Innovation" class chemical parcel tankers delivered in 1998 from Denmark's "Danyard" in the city of Frederikshavn.

If we call the "Samoa" from the fifties for the "simple ship",- and the "Jutlandia" from the seventies for the "super ship", then it would be appropriate to call the "Stolt Capability" for the "smart ship".
Suddenly nothing could be done manually anymore! Everything is controlled by computers! And you cannot do anything wrong! If you do, the computers tell you immediately, and block all further attempts to go on, until the problem is solved.
Fun to compare the alarm points of "Samoa" with those of "Stolt Capability"!  Old "Samoa" from the fifties had 5 alarms,- while "Stolt Capability" from the late nineties has more than 3000! (Cannot remember the exact number!)

What makes this class of ship so totally different from the previous ships, I have described, is most of all the propulsion plant.
Instead of the usual arrangement which typically could be a long stroke, slow speed diesel engine coupled directly to a propeller, we now see the worlds first diesel-electric propulsion plant in a chemical tanker!
The huge, traditional 2-stroke diesel engine was now replaced by 4 medium speed motors each driving a high voltage alternator, which in turn deliver power for a powerful 10.000 Kw. el- motor in the bottom of the ship.
The layout of the engine room could therefore be dramatically changed, so that it now appears with the various engine room compartments placed on top of each other. This vertical design of the engine room, makes it possible to squeeze all machinery into a remarkable short engine room, leaving space for one more cargo section.
The diesel-electric power plant coupled with a modern Becker rudder and a powerful electric bowtruster, makes the ship extremely flexible and very manoeuvrable.

On the cargo side the ship is very well equipped with 42 cargo tanks and 4 deck tanks, - altogether 46 tanks made from solid stainless steel of a grade that is about 60% stronger than the traditionally used 316 type -, and it can carry just as many different cargoes simultaneously, since each tank has its own cargo pump and independent pipe systems.
It can carry virtually any chemical or oil including those that require special attention, being it heating or cooling. Heating can be done by steam, hot water or thermal oil,- or a combination -, and cargoes requiring cooling are cooled by circulating a brine through a special hydraulically driven cooling unit that can be easily removed when not required.
Also the ship has its own N2 plant, that can provide nitrogen blankets of very high purity for filling up the void space above the cargo surface, so that sensitive cargoes are not contaminated by exposure to atmospheric air, and at the same time the risk of explosion of certain cargoes are also avoided, since the N2 blanket makes sure, that the oxygen level is so low, that the risk of ignition is eliminated.
Of course there is a lot more, - especially when it comes to automation and control, but it will be too much to mention it all.

The ship from the early nineties,- the "Stolt Markland" -, I described as a "happy ship".  There are also "unhappy ships", and unfortunately the "Stolt Capability" belonged to that category due to leadership problems,- and surprising enough there was no desire from the responsible people in the office to solve the problem.
Therefore I had to leave this nice ship although I considered the ship itself near perfect.  That statement, - of course -, is only valid as long as things worked well.  However, - when things did not work as intended, it was more than a nightmare, when the computers suddenly made themselves "independent" and did "strange" things, which was not always easy to figure out. Also it was a little bit scary to work with a voltage 15 times higher than on traditional ships.
But more about the disadvantages later.

For now please have a look at a fantastic, near perfect ship - - -
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
- the final touch, - being fitted out at "Danyard", Frederikshavn, Denmark, just before delivery in 1998 -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 

Builders:  Danyard A/S, Frederikshavn, Denmark
Length o. a.:  176,75 meters
Breath:  32,3 meters
Draught:  11,89 meters
DWT:  37042 t.
Propulsion:  Diesel-electric
3 pcs. Wartsila medium speed, 9R32E
1 pc. Wartsila medium speed, 6R32E
Power:  10.000 Kw
Speed:  16,5 knots
Owners: Stolt-Nielsen Transportation Group
 
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
Here a look at the "hotel" section just before departure on the maiden voyage -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
Departure, - "Stolt Capability" starts her maiden voyage guided by Switzer tug "Valkyrien".
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - propeller turning -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - on her way -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - a look at the layout of the deck equipment -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)

It looks more like a complex industrial plant than a ships deck, but all this equipment is necessary in order for the ship to carry and handle virtually any type of cargo, as long as it can be pumped!
 
 



M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - a closer look at the maze of pipes and equipment -.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)

Here you can see some of the about 25 km. stainless steel pipes on deck.  Besides the cargo pipes, there are also pipe systems for steam, fresh water, hot water, sea water, nitrogen, thermal oil, fuel oil, brine, fire lines, vent lines, foam for fire extinguishing, compressed air, hydraulic oil, - plus cables and pipes for sensors, feelers, gauges and - - - - ????  I might have forgotten something - -
 
 




M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - view to the bridge -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - the joy of sailing -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - directly into the sunset -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - leaving a wake from 13.600 BHP behind, - and a fantastic sky -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 

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The engine room.

Being by far the most interesting thing about this ship, - I have decided to include many pictures from the engine compartments.
Instead of one huge open engine room with one big engine, - and all the auxiliary equipment placed on platforms around it -, the engine compartment on the "Stolt Capability" is divided into numerous small, closed compartments placed vertically on top of each other.
Yes, - Really!  You can here talk about a "vertical" engine room - - -
The biggest of these compartments is the main generator room, where the 4 medium speed Wartsila diesels each drive a high voltage alternator producing 6.600 volts.
Quite a change from normal 440 Volts ship alternators.




M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - The engine room with four main engines and alternators -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - another view of the main engine room -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - a closer look at a 6.600 volt alternator -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 Another view from the main engine room showing two of the four diesel engines.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - deep down below, - the 10.000 Kw propulsion el-motor that drives the ship -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)



The green square box on this picture shows the 10.000 Kw el-motor that drives the ship. It is very small for so much power,- it can easily fit into a normal kitchen -, and it is also interesting to see that the gear,- the green "thing" in the foreground -, is
actually bigger than the motor itself!  From this gear box, the propeller shaft connects to the propeller.
Although the ships alternators produce 6.600 volts, the el-motor is supplied with "only" 1.500 volts.
The reason is, that on the way from alternator to el-motor, the voltage is transformed down. Also it has to pass a synchro-converter, that electronically cuts the original, steady frequency in bits and pieces, and puts it together again to match the required rpm of the el-motor.
Actually the power transmission goes through seven steps from generator to propeller. (Generator, alternator, transformer, synchro-converter, el- motor, gear, propeller.)
This is a lot compared to the only two steps in the traditional design where the power from the diesel engine goes straight and directly to the propeller without any intermediate steps.
However, with the diesel-electric system the control of the engine is very smooth! The propeller can actually run at only 10 rpm if so desired, and the process of going from ahead to astern is very smooth and completely step less without having to stop and reverse the engines, and then starting up again in the opposite direction like it is done with the traditional design.

It sounds like perfect,- and from an engineers point of view it is. (Or at least near perfect as mentioned before!)
But there are drawbacks, - especially for he who has to pay the bills!
As mentioned above, - the diesel-electric design requires 7 steps from generator to propeller, and each step means a loss!
The traditional design have two steps,- engine to propeller-, and consequently the losses are much smaller.
A diesel-electric ship like the "Stolt Capability" will typically burn more than 60 tons fuel a day, - all included -, while a traditional design of same power will typically burn less than 40 tons for propulsion, while the auxiliary engines will typically burn 5 - 6 tons extra for the remaining consumption.
In addition I am quite sure, that the very complex diesel-electric design costs considerably more in maintenance than the much more simple, traditional design.
If you get a short circuit in a normal 440 volts switchboard, you will get a black-out and a possible damage to a bus bar or to some switch, but you will be able to fix it, and the ship will continue.
If the same thing happens to a 6.600 volts switchboard, the whole section melts down completely,- there is nothing left-, and you cannot fix it!
 
 



M/T "Stolt Capability"
 The propulsion el-motor behind, - and the reduction gear in front.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - the compartment with sea cooling water pumps and central coolers -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - the compartment with sea cooling water pumps and central coolers -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - and here the compartment with the hydraulic power packs -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - the separator room -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - another view of the separator room -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - the compartment with refrigeration machinery -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - the "converter room", - the compartment with the high voltage switch board -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)

In this compartment the frequency from the alternators are chopped into bits and pieces, - and then put together again in accordance to the desired revolutions of the propeller.
The blue door in the background leads into one of the transformer rooms where the voltage is reduced from 6.600 Volts to "only" 1.500 volts.
 
 



M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - here entering the engine control room -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - the main engine control console -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 

The engine control room.

This main control console looks so simple and "clean" compared to the first types of control consoles in fully automated ships, where "thousands" of gauges, handles, dials, buttons, switches and alarm- and control lamps covered every available space.
All this is now long gone and replaced with computer monitors showing hundreds of menus, pictures, graphs and curves. Also you start and stop everything by selecting the right screen picture, - put the cursor on it and click with a mouse -, and you open and close valves as well, and read pressures and temperatures, and register alarms - - -   Everything - - -
In the switchboards behind the main control console, there are hundreds of other computers,- PLC's -, that control the equipment.
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - another view into the impressive engine control room -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)
 
 


M/T "Stolt Capability"
 - a final look the main engine control console -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen ©)

This quite small and not so impressing looking desk in the middle of the control room is actually the very brain- and nerve center of the whole ship.
From here everything is powered, started, stopped, controlled and constantly monitored, - and without it the ship would be just a "dead", cold and useless steel construction!
Interesting to think about!
 
 

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Updated:  May 14. 2005, - Nov.09.2008, - Nov.11.2008