Product Profile: Seakeeper Gyro Stabilization Systems

By MarEx 2013-04-17 11:24:00

John Kermet, COO of Seakeeper, highlights the benefits of Seakeeper Gyro Stabilization Systems to the maritime industry.

"After seeing the excellent results obtained on Marhaba with Seakeeper gyros, our idea was to offer this level of safety and comfort to our commercial vessel customers. Stabilized crew boats simplify passenger transfers at oil rigs or wind farms.  Such boat landings are done offshore 365 days a year, even in rough weather.  Seakeeper gyros make personnel transfers so much safer, that I'm sure all fast crew boats will have such stabilization in the future." --Fabrice Epaud, OCEA commercial director

Check out the interview below:

MarEx: Give our readers a brief overview about the product.

Kermet: Seakeeper manufactures actively controlled gyroscopic stabilization systems using the most advanced technologies, including aerospace dynamics and automotive motion controls.  Our gyros reduce resonant ship roll by up to 90%, whether a ship is underway, operating at slow speed, or is at rest.

Unlike external stabilizing fins, gyros are completely internal devices that aren't prone to damage and don't cause drag. Seakeeper gyros differ from others on the market in that the flywheel operates inside a vacuum, enabling it to spin much faster than possible in ambient air. The result is much more powerful righting forces, in a package that has the lowest power draw, smallest size and lightest weight on a per-angular momentum basis in the market. Our gyros don't require centerline mounting, enabling flexibility in both new builds and retrofit installations. Seakeeper's largest model to date, the M26000, produces 26,000 newton-meter-seconds of angular momentum for vessels up to approximately 100 tons displacement or less. Smaller Seakeeper gyros are designed for craft in the 35 ton-displacement range or smaller. All can be fitted in multiples to best suit the application and available installation space.

MarEx: What sparked the idea?

Kermet: Gyroscopic stabilizers were used in the early 1900s, on very large vessels, but were subsequently abandoned due to weight and power demands. The idea is not new, though technology has now evolved to make this form of stabilization viable again. Seakeeper started in the recreational marine market. Its founders saw the shortcomings of stabilizing fins and instead integrated aerospace, automotive and other technologies into a new gyro design that would absolutely increase safety on board, and make boating more enjoyable, by actively stabilizing a craft in all sea states. After the first product launch in 2008, Seakeeper quickly gained momentum in the recreational market and commercial applications soon followed.

MarEx: How can this trend help to increase crew and passenger safety in the maritime industry?

Kermet: A stable platform is inherently safer than a moving one. Commercial vessels don't have the option of staying in port waiting for calm seas, and the gyro's ability to reduce ship roll when the vessel is underway or idling has many benefits. It helps prevent seasickness for passengers and crew. It enables safer movement about the vessel itself, or in the case of transport craft, facilitates safer passenger transfer.

"The main factor in choosing the Seakeeper-stabilized OCEA craft was to enhance the safety of the vessels' operations, such as boat landings and ship to ship transfer.  Additionally, the system provides a higher level of comfort to passengers while at sea." --Olivier Meynis de Paulin, PROMAR Shipping chartering and operations officer

MarEx: How can this product improve a vessel’s productivity/efficiency?

Kermet: Compared to an unstabilized vessel, or say one fitted with fins that don't work at slow speeds, a gyro-stabilized vessel can operate safely in more adverse weather or sea conditions. This equates to more working days on the water. The completely internal design of the Seakeeper gyro also eliminates drag-producing appendages outside the hull, which adds to the vessel's speed and fuel efficiency. And, because those aboard aren't suffering from seasickness or the fatigue of physically compensating for ship roll, and can move safely about, they are better able to work. This increases personnel productivity.

MarEx: What benefits do your products offer to ship owners and operators?

Kermet: Seakeeper gyros offer a viable and economical means of making a vessel more productive, both in terms of the operating efficiencies of the ship itself, as well as improved working conditions for those aboard. Seakeeper gyros, with their compact size and low power draw, are easy to retrofit with no major structural changes to the vessel. A stabilized craft has competitive advantages over those that aren't, creating new business opportunities and increased profitability for owners and operators.

MarEx: What are your goals for the product?

Kermet: Seakeeper is dedicated to continually evolving gyro technology to create the maximum righting force in as small an envelope as possible, evidenced in the new models we've introduced over the past 5 years. The technology is completely scalable, providing opportunities for both larger and smaller gyros in the future, as long as the overall efficiencies and cost remain beneficial to the customer. We are focused on bringing gyro stabilization to ever-wider commercial applications. We see the industry embracing gyro technology and are determined to dominate this market segment worldwide with quality products and superior service and support.

MarEx: Do you cater to a specific segment of the industry?

Only in that we focus on vessels that can benefit from gyro stabilization. Our commercial customer base is broad, recent installations include: 54' unmanned surface vessel; 60' oil platform support vessels, 72' survey and transport vessel; 85' US Navy torpedo weapons retriever/security craft; 90' wind farm transport vessels; 95' range support craft; and 114' US Navy range training support craft. We likewise have hundreds of recreational marine installations on craft from 39' to over 200' that illustrate the broad applications of gyro stabilization.

For further information on Seakeeper Gyro Stabilization Systems, please visit http://www.seakeeper.com/.