TSHD Samuel de Champlain: A First LNG Vessel for France

Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain

Published Jun 17, 2019 6:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

After a long conversion period, the trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) Samuel de Champlain sailed from Damen shipyard in Dunkirk last Friday, June 14, to the Loire estuary where she arrived on Sunday, June 16, to start dredging operations. Thus, TSHD Samuel de Champlain becomes the first French flag vessel using LNG as a fuel, resulting from the first conversion ever of a dredger into dual fuel.

SamueLNG European project

Dragages-Ports EIG, owner of the ship, decided in 2016 to replace the existing diesel generators of Samuel de Champlain by a dual fuel (diesel and LNG) system, in order to improve the reliability and the environmental performance of the ship. This conversion is part of a wider European project called “S/F SamueLNG for a Blue Atlantic arch” implemented by a consortium of 12 members, including the French ports of Nantes-Saint-Nazaire, Le Havre and Rouen, but also the Spanish ports of Vigo and Gijon and their technical partners, and Central Dredging Association (CEDA). 

The European Union awarded a grant to this project via the Connecting Europe Facility and its horizontal priority “Motorways of the Sea” without which the project would have been compromised.

Long and complex conversion works

The 17,8 M€ contract concerning the conversion of THSD Samuel de Champlain into dual fuel engines was awarded by Dragages-Ports in July, 2017, to Damen Shiprepair & Conversion after a European tender.

Under the contract, Damen delivered a turnkey package that included engineering, replacement of existing gensets by three 3180 kW dual fuel gensets based on MAN 6L35/44DF engines, two type C tanks containing 153 m3 of LNG each, representing a range of one week. Two refueling stations, a nitrogen unit, piping networks and the modernization of the control/command system were also included in the contract.

Engineering studies and procurement took more than 14 months, and the conversion works started on October 8th, 2018, in Damen shipyard in Dunkirk. The delivery of the ship was initially scheduled to take place in January, 2019, but was delayed several times due to the numerous technical issues of this first-of-a-kind conversion of such a complex vessel. The teams involved in the project, either of Dragages-Ports and Nantes-Saint-Nazaire Port, or of Damen and providers and subcontractors, earn to be paid homage to because of their persistence that finally lead the works to end. Last week, the sea trials were successful.

LNG, cleaner fuel

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied (-162C) Natural Gas (LNG) are already frequently used as a fuel for trucks or urban buses. LNG is also an emerging fuel for ships, especially in northern Europe. When most of merchant ships use heavy fuel oil, except in Sulfur Emission Control Areas, Dragages-Ports fleet already uses marine diesel oil, complying with the most restrictive regulations.

TSHD Samuel de Champlain is the first French flag ship using LNG as a fuel. The new MAN 6L35/44DF gensets will allow to dredge continuously in gas-mode operation (Tier III). Using LNG 100 percent of the time will further reduce the emissions of air pollutants compared to diesel oil: the objective of -20 percent CO2, -80 percent Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and -99 percent particulate matters (PM) will be checked in the coming weeks by on-site measurements.

Even if her dredging performances remain the same, the new start of Samuel de Champlain is the beginning of a new era.

The results of the whole SamueLNG project will be presented during a European conference in Saint-Nazaire (France), on September 25 and 26, 2019.

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