2017 Oct 18

MSC newbuilding is a sea change

First in class MSC Seaside joins the MSC Cruises fleet in November. Susan Parker spoke to its builder about the challenges of bringing passengers closer to the sea.

Fincantieri’s project team for 154,000 gt MSC Seaside came together in 2014. Andrea De Cesco, project manager, and Michele Francovigh, lead project engineer on MSC Seaside and its sister MSC Seaview, talked to PST about what went into building this new-generation vessel.

The first 12 months were spent finalising the design of the ship, Mr De Cesco said. “It is typical with a prototype to have at least one year from contract signing to steel-cutting to design the ship,” he explained. “For MSC Seaside the project schedule included nine months from steel-cutting to keel-laying, another nine months in the drydock and a final 12 months for outfitting at the quay.”

It was a big project, he said, estimating that it absorbed 10M man-hours, including 750,000 for its  engineering. A dedicated team of 10 are leading the project with Mr Francovigh coordinating the technical part together with three assistants and about 15 engineers from Fincantieri’s technical department dedicated to the project. In addition, there are several technicians working on it along with subcontractors, purchase coordinators, cost controllers and project programmers. “It is a very big effort”, Mr Francovigh said.

Turning to the building of the ship itself, Mr De Cesco explained that its most critical dimension is its beam at the water line, which is 41m. “This is very close to the capacity of the drydock so we have had some production issues,” he said, because the dock has a maximum width of about 49 m. In addition, the ship’s height of 72 m from the baseline gives the ship “dimensions which we have never had in our shipyard before,” he added.

Public spaces cover 46,000 m2 with a high percentage of that, 14,000 m2, being dedicated to outside areas. “This is a new concept, in which the outside area is very important, which is quite uncommon in a cruise vessel,” Mr De Cesco said.

MSC Seaside’s basic design concept was also unusual, he said. It had to balance a very efficient hull form with a large internal volume while maintaining a good weight distribution. To achieve this, “we have arranged the engineroom in the midships so the engineroom casing and funnel are midships. This is to optimise the performance of the ship structures,” he said.

“This is definitely a revolution, at least for us – something we have never experienced,” he suggested. It required a longer shaft line and more support than most ships it has been involved with, placing the propulsion motors amidships. The shaft line’s bushes are water-lubricated.

“It is quite a radical solution but, in the end, we optimised both hull design and structures,” he said, and Mr Francovigh confirmed that “all the design conditions have been confirmed during sea trials so we are very happy about this.”

This simplified machinery arrangements to meet Safe Return To Port (SRTP) requirements. “From the main vertical zone we have one SRTP [compartment] fore and one aft,” he said. From a design point of view, this optimises equipment layouts and services routeing but also simplifies SRTP operations for the ship’s owner, he said.

Mr De Cesco has been involved in SRTP arrangements since Fincantieri first built a ship with an SRTP machinery layout. It was Royal Princess, which had its engine aft, so “the cabling, pipes [and other services] were a big issue as we had to carefully analyse their routeing to ensure [it] did not affect the generator set and propulsion machinery.” By contrast, MSC Seaside divisions between the machinery were clear, “so there was no need to go into such high levels of detail over routeing.”

Layout optimisation

Another feature Mr Francovigh to highlighted is what he termed optimised layout efficiency. The ship has only two passenger stairwells; “typically in our vessels there are three,” he said. Reducing it to two has been achieved by “properly balancing the main vertical zones (MVZs) so there are only two stair trunks in MVZs Nos 2 and 5.”

This has created a uniform flow all around the public spaces and cabin areas, creating more space for them. The ship has six MVZs and all are larger than SOLAS allows “so we have specifically developed designs for each of them with the class society, flag and the owner,” he said. “For us, this is new and has been specifically studied by our basic design office and shared with MSC, which approved it.”

Mr De Cesco explained that the Seaside concept was developed by Fincantieri. “The objective was to provide passengers with a new cruise experience that was more in touch with the sea environment,” he said. In a traditional cruiseship, he said, passengers are some distance from the sea because the open areas are mostly on the upper decks – as much as 60 m above the water – with the lower decks having few openings to the outside. “Thanks to many people getting behind it, this concept brings the sea to the lower decks.” It will also bring more sunshine to these areas, he said.

“Following a complex engineering and design period, the outside areas in the lower decks are very large and probably the effect when the ship is finished will be more impressive. This concept is also something new and was part of the ship’s basic design.”

Mr Francovigh took up the story, recalling that, because of this extensive deck area, “also had to redesign and rethink completely the lifeboat arrangements to arrange them in a suitable location for the ship’s safety needs but also in a position that would not affect the public spaces.” Fincantieri’s designers succeeded in putting the lifeboats completely outside the public areas and out of sight of the passengers, but also in a sheltered position, he said.

The ship has a lower platform [underneath the lifeboats] to prevent the greensea effect but also made it possible for passengers to board lifeboats in their stowed position, which Mr Francovigh said is an easier and safer procedure when abandoning ship. This required a new davit system, which was “designed with geometry dedicated for this solution. It is a one-off for this ship,” he said.

Particular attention has also been paid to the inside spaces on the lower decks where a large amount of glass has been used to minimise visible obstacles between the inside and outside. “There are a lot of structural windows, which was very complicated to design. We had to run several finite-element analyses for this,” he said.

Design requirements for both the structure and the windows were very demanding, he said, “so we have carefully developed this with the engineering department.” In particular, the geometry for a large curved window by the ship’s atrium was quite complicated, he said, requiring a significant amount of planning. Another complex area of glazing is on Deck 16, where there is a panoramic lift.

There is also a huge amount of outside wind screening glazing, which took a long time to design, using a wind tunnel. “We conducted studies and simulations to model the ship’s windflow in operation and then studied solutions to protect the public areas, such as transverse windscreens,” Mr Francovigh said. There is also glazing at the side of the open areas he said, which helps to “optimise open areas without compromising their architectural design.”

Smart ship focus

Another very important consideration for owner MSC Cruises was the concept of a smart ship, with extensive IT connectivity. There are fibre optics and network cables running throughout the ship to provide a digital communication network that supports services including telephone, wifi (about 500 access points), along with interactive TV in the public spaces and cabins. It also serves a CCTV system of 1,200 cameras, some with face recognition features to provide passengers with a personalised service. The hotel and ship management systems are connected to this communication network.

There is digital signage and a feature that Mr Francovigh called a beacon system, called MSC for Me, that connects 3,000 bluetooth transmitters around the ship to provide passengers with tailored services and suggestions through a bracelet or smartphone app. It is also useful for locating children, with a precision of about 5 m. MSC for Me was driven by MSC but the complex communication network was designed by Fincantieri.

When it comes to energy saving there are several important features. The HVAC system has been developed with much use of fan coils. The design concept is to have a centralised system that supplies fresh air but to control the temperature in the area is managed by the fan coil system, which gives a significant energy saving.

Cabins are also fitted with fan coils and each has a dedicated control that is linked to the balcony door and the cabin’s keycard, to control both air conditioning and lighting.

Public spaces typically have four or five fan coils in each main vertical zone. They also have controls that monitor CO2 and adjust the flow of fresh air to suit the number of passengers in the spaces.

“We have tried to optimise energy consumption without reducing comfort,” Mr Francovigh said. This is helped by extensive use of inverters in the ship’s electrical network, which can can control pumps and other equipment based on the real load needed. In this way, “we can fine-tune systems as much as possible to real need and so have savings,” he said. Systems controlled in this way include all the cooling pumps, chillers and fans, including those for ventilating the machinery space and the incinerators.

A significant energy-saving feature that has been extensively applied on this ship is a heat-recovery system, using established technology. Exhaust gas boilers produce steam from the main engines but there are also high- and low-temperature heat recovery systems connected to various plants to support water production for laundry or swimming pool use.

These arrangements also produce potable water, a configuration that was selected with MSC Cruises to provide flexibility. There are two Wärtsilä Serck Como fresh water generators producing 950 tonne each per day and two Culligan reverse osmosis plants producing 650 tonne each per day. The black and grey advanced waste water treatment comes from Wärtsilä and the vacuum system from Evac.

There is extensive use of LEDs of different types in all the public spaces, cabins, wheelhouse, stairways and offices. In all, there are 40,000 lighting points. The ship’s fibre optics also use LEDs. High-efficiency low-power lamps are fitted in the technical rooms.

In terms of machinery, the ship’s four diesel engines are Wärtsilä W46F machines – the same as those fitted on the Princess ships. They have a total installed power of 62.4 MW, of which 40 MW is always available for propulsion; 20 MW on each shaft line. The engines have been selected because of their performance and reliability based on the successful installation on other ships.

Two hybrid scrubber systems from Wärtsilä have been fitted in the forward engine room. These are used in a closed-loop mode in harbour, with the washwater then treated and stored in tanks with a 14-day storage capacity. “Fincantieri has not fitted hybrid scrubbers before so there has been significant effort in arranging the storage tanks in the machinery spaces,” Mr Francovigh said.

Both MGO and HFO can be stored onboard with an automatic changeover procedure in place when the ship enters an ECA.

It is obvious from talking to Mr De Cesco and Mr Francovigh that they are excited by this project. “When you follow a project like this you have an enthusiasm in trying to share the project’s features with other people,” said Mr De Cesco. “It is very important for us and all my team, building this ship. It is very difficult but very exciting.”

Source:; Rebecca Moore

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