As a producer of vessels that are used by governmental special forces teams for dangerous operations such as anti-smuggling missions, Damen requires premium engine systems to power its boats. So, when developing a new rigid hull inflatable boat – RHIB 1050 – for this purpose, the Dutch company asked Volvo Penta to provide a power unit that could offer the performance capabilities needed for high-stakes assignments. Volvo Penta’s six-liter engine with Duoprop drive, the D6-370 DPR, was selected, following the success of its use in some of Damen’s other vessels.
“Our main objective was to create a high-speed craft which is able to transport intervention teams safely to their target, at speeds of up to 50 knots,” says Roel Foolen, project manager newbuilding at Damen. “At all speeds the RHIB must be able to come alongside the target vessel, so that the special forces personnel can climb safely over and carry out the intervention. These actions require fast acceleration of the RHIB from wave to wave, excellent maneuverability, seakeeping, stability and robustness to sail through the wash of the target and come alongside, and then to safely sail away after the drop-off.
“To achieve this, the vessel has to have the right hull shape, be light-weight and have the correct weight distribution of the total package. The Volvo Penta engines and drives fit these requirements because they have the power, throttle response and a very good grip in the water with the DPR drives.”
Proven reliability for the harshest environments
Foolen says: “When we started to develop the RHIB 1050, we wanted a reliable and proven propulsion train, which works as one mechanical and electronic system and could be supplied by one manufacturer. In this way we have one point of contact for the new installation and maintenance of engines and drives. In some countries, there may be only one mechanic who services the engines and drives, so to have a complementary system by one supplier is more efficient.
“At Damen we have had a good experience with the reliability and great performance of Volvo Penta’s D6-370 DPR in our Interceptor range of vessels, and the system fitted perfectly within the design philosophy we had for the RHIB 1050. When we built the first prototype, we asked potential customers to test the RHIB to the max. With a Damen RHIB installed with the Volvo Penta propulsion system, our customers have a reliable, high-quality overall package which can be used in the most harsh environments.”
Like the power and cornering of a high-performance car
Damen Shipyards Group is based in Gorinchem, in the Netherlands, and has more than 90 years of design and engineering experience; it has subsidiaries around the world and builds many types of commercial marine vessels. The boats are used by governments and commercial operators around the world, for functions such as combatting smuggling, marine surveillance and law enforcement, rapid response to emergencies, and other high-speed patrol uses. The vessels need to be reliable and available at any time, often being used for more than 16 hours per day.
The company has twin installations of Volvo Penta’s D6-370 DPR in the RHIB 1050 and its DI 1102 Interceptor vessel, as well as triple installations of the engine and drive package in its DI 1503 Interceptor model. The Interceptor vessels differ from the glass-reinforced epoxy RHIB in having hulls composed of aluminum or carbon-reinforced epoxy resin and low-emissivity glass, and having slightly narrower beams.
“Our DI 1503 model has the power and cornering of a high-performance car – it’s like the Porsche of the Interceptor market, so we definitely wanted a superior engine that would meet the requirements and be appropriate for our customers’ needs,” says Wim Boerma, product manager for high speed craft at Damen. “What is important for high-speed craft such as the Interceptor, is fast acceleration and good power-to-weight ratio of the total installation to allow for high top speeds. Excellent maneuverability is also needed. The robustness of the Volvo Penta package is very important, also, to match the durability of all onboard systems and the vessel itself.”
He adds: “One of the reasons we began installing Volvo Penta’s system was that it provided everything in one package – engine, drive and gearbox – and we chose the DPR drive as it can handle speeds more than 50 knots,” says Boerma. “We built a test boat to start with, which we sent all over the world and asked our potential customers to drive and use it as if it was their own vessel. We told them to report everything to us, no matter how small, so that we could learn from their discoveries. The conclusion was that all the major parts of the engine and boat were good.”
Boerma asserts that the success of the vessels with the D6-370 DPR bodes well for the future: “I believe in a strong partnership where we listen carefully to each other, to create a win-win situation for both parties.”
One system for all requirements
Volvo Penta’s D6-370 is a robust in-line 6-cylinder, 5.5-liter diesel engine using common-rail fuel injection, double overhead camshafts, and turbo and compressor in combination with the turbo which gives torque at any given time. Volvo Penta is the only company that brings this compressor/turbo combination to the market with an engine that is designed purely for the marine market. The compact and lightweight engine provides premium performance - not only with high torque at low rpm for excellent acceleration – but also with low fuel consumption, and low noise and vibration.
The Duoprop drive features twin counter-rotating propellers for superior thrust. The D6-370 DPR can be operated via Volvo Penta’s Electronic Vessel Control (EVC) which fully integrates the engine and electronics, and can be used with optional features such as Glass Cockpit (a unified interface with customizable layouts).
“Volvo Penta is known by many marine manufacturers as being a high-speed engine supplier, and we have worked well with Damen for many years, as they appreciate what we can offer,” says Ewoud Hooymans, Volvo Penta’s key account manager for the Benelux region. “The D6 engine is the only engine that you will not see in any other application but the marine business. Volvo Penta is the inventor of the Aquamatic drives and Duoprop set up, and the system is serviceable by all our marine dealers – approximately 3000 of them, worldwide.”