As a naval architectural and engineering office, C-Job draws on the experience and skills of its personnel to cover all the major disciplines of ship design. Broadly speaking, these comprise naval architecture and hydromechanics, mechanical engineering and structural engineering. And, in turn, each of these include various specialist sub-divisions. For example, finite element analysis (FEA) is a powerful technique for analysing and optimizing complex constructions in the field of structural engineering.
Ticking all the boxes
Although these various disciplines cover different areas, they are in fact very closely related. A specialist in the discipline of structural engineering, C-Job Lead Naval Architect Nikos Papapanagiotou describes how structural engineering influences the whole ship design process. “The structure of a ship is the skeleton of a ship – and all aspects of the vessel are related to its structure,” he says. “Of course, a ship needs to be strong enough to perform its function and to be as light as possible, but also needs to comply with all the requirements of the other disciplines. This involves the tank arrangement and the watertight subdivisions, defined by the naval architecture discipline together with the ship’s mechanical systems such as piping, propulsion and various equipment.”
“Another topic not be overlooked is the question of vibration. The hull structure shall be designed in order to withstand the vibrations caused by the waves and the operation of mission equipment.” In certain cases this subject is particularly pertinent. “For example, when we design pusher tugs or cutter suction dredgers, which have an extremely high horsepower in relation to their size, we position the accommodation on top of flexible mountings to reduce vibration in these areas. This stops the crew’s teeth chattering when they are lying in their beds!”
Focus on function
At the end of the day, however, a ship-owner builds a vessel to perform a specific function. And it is this fact that the C-Job team strives to achieve it in the most efficient way. “Whatever function the vessel has to accomplish – whether it’s a dredger, a crane ship or a passenger vessel – the goal of a structural engineer is to balance weight, strength, fatigue and vibrations and at the same time to leave space for the operational requirements according to the client’s specifications. Each ship type has its own challenges, but challenges are always welcome and are there to be overcome.”
Nikos goes on to say that one particular feature of ship design is influenced by less objective methods. “The aesthetics of a ship also plays a part in the design,” he says. “Of course, a ship needs to be functionally operational, but, where possible, it should also looks good. “This is a very interesting and creative part of the ship design procedure.”
At this point, the logical question to ask would be: Considering how complex the entire ship design process is, how does C-Job coordinate the input from the various naval architectural disciplines to design a vessel that succeeds in all aspects of this challenging balancing act?
“We are project-orientated – when we design a vessel there is usually one lead engineer for each discipline. These three leading engineers work closely with each other to coordinate the whole process in order to optimise the design. This often involves some give-and-take, but the closer that the different disciplines work together, the more efficient and satisfying the final result will be.” Nikos concludes: “When there is good cooperation, there is a win-win situation.”