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German academic paper warned BC Ferries' needs were hard to meet

B.C. Ferries set “very hard to fulfill” design requirements for the new Super C-class ferries, according to an academic paper whose authors include a Hamburg University of Technology engineering professor and an employee of the German shipyard that built the vessels.

The paper also says that much of the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft design was tested through numerical models, rather than actual physical models.

The Tyee reported today that the new ships are having serious cavitation and fuel consumption problems. B.C. Ferries spent $542 million to have FSG build the Coastal Renaissance, Coastal Celebration and Coastal Inspiration.

“Some of the Design requirements put forward by BCF had been very hard to fulfill in the final concept,” said the paper by professor Stefan Krüger, FSG employee Heike Billerbeck and Tobias Haack. “Most challenging was the demand for extremely low fuel consumption, low wake wash, and very good steering performance that had to be combined with the requirement for a diesel electric power plant.”

B.C. Ferries also needed the ships to accelerate quickly from zero to the “quite high” speed of 21 knots, it said.

To meet the requirements, FSG came up with “an unconventional propulsion concept” for the propellers and “a completely new hull form.”

Alternative designs were tested numerically, it said, in part because the designers were in a hurry. “It was found that the majority of the design tasks could only be handled with numerical simulations, where the simulation models had to be generated on time during the hot product development phase.”

The models helped FSG develop a “competitive product” that B.C. Ferries chose through its selection process, the paper said.

A commenter on The Tyee story found a PDF of the academic paper. The PDF is no longer available, though a cached copy can still be found.

FSG's head of design, Broder Hinrichsen, said in an interview the three new ferries met all of the specifications set by B.C. Ferries, including for fuel consumption.

B.C. Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall did not respond to the Tyee's requests for comment today.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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