When only the best will do…

October 4th, 2012

In June 2012, the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II was celebrated and the focus of the festivities was the Thames Diamond Jubilee River Pageant – the largest collection of vessels to ever be assembled on the River Thames and the biggest parade of boats in history.

Although more than 1,000 different vessels participated in the flotilla, the centre of attention was the royal barge, which carried the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family.

Clearly, it has to be a very special vessel that is selected for such an honour. And, in late 2011, the organisers of the pageant chose The Spirit of Chartwell, a luxurious hotel barge owned and operated by the Magna Carta Steamship company.

The ship began life on the Rhine as the Van Gogh and was originally designed to sail the waterways of Europe. In 2009, she was acquired by her current owners, given a sumptuous £7 million refit and re-named as The Spirit of Chartwell. At this stage, she was meticulously designed to evoke the timeless grandeur of the 1929 Cote d’Azur Pullman railway carriage. Several original pieces from this famous carriage can be found on board, along with fixtures and fittings from some of the great ocean liners of days gone by.

For the pageant, the Spirit of Chartwell was lavishly decorated in red, gold and purple, reminiscent of royal barges of the 17 and 18th century. Among the additions were thousands of flowers, an ornate gilded prow sculpture of Old Father Thames and a large red velvet banner with a royal coat of arms made of more than half a million gold-coloured buttons.

With a vessel of this type, the quality and attention to detail extends well beyond the public spaces and the cabins. The Spirit of Chartwell therefore exceeds all of the latest UK Marine Coastguard Agency codes on safety and navigation, including the provision of Hi fog sprinklers and waste treatment plant. The vessel is also highly manoeuvrable in being equipped with twin Schottel propulsion (propellers being able to turn in 360 degrees) and two types of bow thrusters.

However, before the ship could safely set sail, ComAp expert engineers were called in to fix serious problems with the ships generators…

The problem:

ComAp received an email explaining that the vessel was having a problem with its auxiliary generators; the Port Side auxiliary engine was shutting down under specific load impact conditions.

In order for the heating, lighting and kitchen equipment to work in time for the Jubilee weekend, the engine control problems needed to be addressed.

The solution:

ComAp engineers visited the vessel to investigate the operational issues and to establish why the problems were occurring.

As the auxiliary engines use ComAp Equipment, ComAp were the clear choice for maintenance and servicing issues. After about an hour of diagnostic checks, ComAp engineers found that the ComAp Controllers used: InteliGen NT Marine, running a MINT 2.4 software, a ComAp voltage regulator interface module – IG-AVRi Marine and ComAp power management dongles for enabling automatic synchronisation and load sharing – IGS-NT-LSM+PMS ; both the port and starboard auxiliary engines were calibrated incorrectly. The engines were not reacting quickly enough to the load applied and therefore removing the load from the gensets resulted in the engines going into intermittent over-speed and shutting down.

Correction and re-tuning of the speed control loops on both Port and Starboard engines resulted in significantly improved reaction times to load changes. Re-tuning also improved the reaction time of synchronising and load sharing when the gensets are paralleled.

While on the vessel, our ComAp engineers took the opportunity to show the chief on board a short navigation around the ComAp genset controllers; the crew on board were not aware of the many other screens and functions that are available. Now knowing that the controllers in use have a history log, the operators can utilise this to monitor the gensets when in operation and will be able to track problems which may arise.

All of the controllers used on board can be supplied and commissioned by ComAp, ComAp distributor for UK and Ireland.