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News

High strength research vessel extends frontiers

SSAB Tunnpl : 24 October, 2002  (New Product)
Low weight, high strength and outstanding seagoing qualities Swedish company L
Low weight, high strength and outstanding seagoing qualities Swedish company Långedrag Marin and boatbuilder Alve Henricson have designed a fully fledged research vessel for minor marine expeditions. One of the secrets behind their success is the fact that the 19-metre long boat is made entirely of extra high strength steel. The designers have been nominated for the Swedish Steel Prize, the international engineering design accolade, for their pioneering entry. The vessel is one of four nominated designs.

Searcher is a new kind of research vessel intended for minor expeditions researching into unique, difficult-to-access island environments all over the world. It is adapted exclusively for research purposes and operates on a non-profit basis through the help of sponsors. By using extra high strength steel, with high tensile strength, as the construction material, the designers have succeeded in combining a hull strength and seagoing qualities normally found in considerably larger craft.

'The extra high strength steel we have used is one of the world's best materials for ocean-going sailboat hulls,' says Rolf Modigh of Långedrag Marin, the boat designer behind Searcher who has realised the ideas of Alve Henricson.

'We employed the 'Långedrag method' to build the hull. This produces a very well rounded steel hull with a superb finish. Precision-measured laser-cut steel plates are shaped and welded together in a fixture which supports the hull during construction.'

Mr Modigh and Mr Henricson have reduced plate thickness by two-to-three millimetres in the hull and superstructure of Searcher. This has resulted in a weight reduction of around four tonnes, made possible by using extra high strength steel instead of conventional vessel steel. The bottom plate is six millimetres thick, the sides five millimetres, and the bulkheads, deck, superstructure and cockpit four millimetres. The designers have not changed the material thickness of the keel, however, although it is also made of the same high-strength steel.

'We wanted an extremely high safety level in the event of running aground or hitting a coral reef,' explains Rolf Modigh. 'Searcher and other ocean-going sailboats sail in waters where there are lots of hazardous protrusions which can damage the hull, so steel is the only alternative. Glass fibre tears like paper when colliding with a coral reef.'

The lower weight means that the boat can carry more diesel oil, which is needed to supply the researchers with electricity so that they can lie at anchor for long periods with an uninterrupted power supply. They can therefore collect material and carry out analyses without any disturbances.

Searcher opens up new opportunities for researchers the world over since it is one of the world's smallest ocean-going research vessels. A design in extra high strength steel is a decisive factor enabling the vessel's construction.

'Without it we would not have been able to build this type of craft, which sails smoothly and is both strong and safe,' asserts Mr Modigh. 'We are honoured and inspired to be nominated for the Swedish Steel Prize. Alve Henricson, who is in the middle of the Atlantic at present, is delighted.'

The nominating committee for the Swedish Steel Prize considers the Searcher project to be a pioneering contribution and notes that it has also resulted in other vessel designs. As a result of the work on Searcher, Långedrag Marin has developed new designs for working vessels and sailboats with extra high strength steel hulls. A much-appreciated model is a 43-foot sailboat, eight of which are currently being built. In addition, the company is developing a motorboat of the same size. This year's Swedish Steel Prize will be awarded in Gothenburg on 21 November.
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