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Opportunities for the use of composites in aluminium high-speed ferry construction.

By Robert Edward McHale


With the development of many new types of high-speed craft in the 1980s & 1990s, the IMO adopted new international regulations dealing with this type of vessel, i.e. the HSC 2000, & a new SOLAS Chapter X, making the HSC mandatory for high-speed craft built after 1st January 1996. This resulted in the majority of high-speed ferries, previously manufactured in composite, being built in aluminium to meet stringent regulations & fire codes. A trade-off in regulations was created whereby heavier high-speed vessels were being produced, increasing operating costs & reducing profit. However, combustible lightweight materials were deemed permissible through the new SOLAS II-2 (part F 2002) Regulation 17, providing that the equivalent safety level is demonstrated. This re-initiated the use of large-scale composite materials on passenger ferries permitting new high-volume application area for long-fibre composite materials. Rapid advances in technology has now made it possible to fabricate large ships completely of composite materials & the high specific strength of GRP, together with the superior specific stiffness offered by carbon & other high-modulus fibres, have led to a dramatic growth in the use of these materials.\ud Through the detailed structural analysis of a recent 40m aluminium catamaran fast-ferry construction the study’s objective is to: determine the best combination of material & construction process in order to design a composite fast-ferry that meets regulations & is competitive with aluminium construction in terms of weight & price

Topics: Maritime Engineering
Year: 2010
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