Diving bell ship Carl Straat (2)_lowres

Keel Laid for Unique Diving Bell Ship

After the design and engineering phase has been completed, the keel has now been laid for the new diving bell vessel for FMSW Koblenz. Deployed on the Rhine and its tributaries, the ship allows workers to operate in dry conditions below water level in a pressurised atmosphere.

The new vessel will replace the Carl Straat, which is now over sixty years old. Europoort Construction in Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht, the Netherlands, is constructing the hull. Once it is ready, Damen will move the vessel to Damen Shipyards Gorinchem for the remainder of the build, outfitting and commissioning process. Damen’s piping department will execute the main piping works during the block building stage at the company’s premises.

‘This is such a special vessel,’ said Damen Project Manager Marius van Wijngaarden when the order was placed in January. ‘Really a one of a kind in the world and also, keeping in mind the old Carl Straat is almost sixty years old, this is a once in a lifetime work experience.’

Tasks and Systems

The diving bell system with its lifting system allows the vessel to carry out its tasks without the need to lower the water level of the rivers on which it operates. Those tasks will primarily be to search for and recover lost cargo and wreckage, inspect underwater structures and support works on the riverbed.

The new vessel will also be used to deploy barrel anchors in gravel and rocky areas and to extract soil samples from the riverbed by using liquid nitrogen to stabilise loose material.

While retaining much of the diving bell expertise developed on the Carl Straat, the 69-metre ship will be fitted with the latest technology to ensure maximum efficiency. Systems will include diesel-electric propulsion compliant with EU stage V standards. Haux is the main supplier of the all-important diving equipment.

While ordered by FMSW Koblenz, the vessel will be operated by the Duisburg waterway and shipping authority WSA (Wasserstrassen- und Schifffahrtsamt). Delivery of the vessel is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.