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Susitna one of the ten most significant boats produced in 2010


January 05, 2011

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - The Ketchikan based Alaska Ship  Drydock, Inc. is recipient of WorkBoat Magazine's Builders Award for one of the ten most significant boats produced in 2010 by the US Shipbuilding Industry.

On the first day of the International WorkBoat Show held in New Orleans in December, LA WorkBoat Magazine named the M/V Susitna one of the ten most significant vessels constructed by the US shipbuilding industry in 2010.  

jpg Susitna one of the ten most significant boast produced in 2010

Staff of the Ketchikan-based Alaska Ship & Drydock pose with the recently completed M/V Susitna
Photo courtesy Alaska Ship & Drydock

M/V Susitna award recipients present at the WorkBoat Show included Randy Johnson, President, Alaska Ship  Drydock Inc. (ASD) for builder, Guido Perla of Guido Perla  Associates and Chip Graber of Lockheed Martin as designers, Elizabeth Gray, Matanuska Susitna Borough Manager and Tammy Clayton, Finance Director for Matanuska Susitna (Mat/Su) Borough as owner's representatives.  

Other notable contributors to the project include Lew Madden who developed the vessel concept while working for Lockheed Martin and who now represents Mat/Su Borough for ship operations; Dr. Paul Rispin, Susitna Program Manager for Office of Naval Research (ONR); and Steven Loui of Navatek providing technical design assistance.  Rear Admiral Nevin P. Carr, Jr. is the Chief of Naval Research for ONR.  In 2005, when ASD was awarded the contract by ONR to construct the M/V Susitna, Rear Admiral Jay M. Cohen was Chief of Naval Research of ONR and was on hand at the WorkBoat award ceremony.

Randy Johnson President of the Ketchikan-based Alaska Ship Drydock stated "I am extremely proud of our entire team of engineers, vendors and most importantly the dedicated men and women of Alaska Ship and Drydock for their contributions to another successful ASD project.  This monumental achievement has further established ASD as a premier shipbuilder for management of design and construction of challenging, complex vessels and advanced marine technology."

The M/V Susitna was constructed as a first of its kind demonstrator vessel funded under the direction of Office of Navel Research (ONR) to prove the concept of a variable draft, beachable, landing craft vessel capable of transiting open seas at high speeds, with large payloads in variable sea states while providing a stable ride.  Susitna is also the world's first ice cutting, twin hulled vessel enhancing its suitability for missions in the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans (see attached WorkBoat magazine article by Mr. Bruce Buls).  Mat/Su Borough will operate M/V Susitna as a ferry on the challenging passage across Knick Arm between the Mat/Su Borough and Anchorage, Alaska.    

The International WorkBoat Show is North America's largest maritime trade show and conference.  The 2009 show attracted visitors from 40 states and 17 countries.  More than 10,000 visitors were expected to attend the 2010 WorkBoat Show that has been ranked by Trade Show Week as one of the Top 200 largest U.S. trade shows.  This year's show, its 31st year, included the Fifth Annual Shipyard Day featuring WorkBoat magazine's 10 Significant Boats of 2010 Awards Ceremony.  WorkBoat Magazines 10 Significant Boats of 2010 Awards honor vessel designers, builders and owners of US built vessels.  The editorial staff reviewed over 70 boats that appeared in the magazine during the previous 12 months and selected 10 vessels that demonstrated innovations in design or technological advances or speed, style, and uniqueness.

The MV Susitna catamaran ferry concept is similar to the Navy’s current fleet of catamaran vessels with one remarkable difference, it has the ability to transform from a deep water transport to a shallow draft vessel, specifically into 3 distinct modes of barge, catamaran and SWATH (small waterplane area twin hull) ship.

From the Office of Naval Research: The ship will have a center "barge" that can be hydraulically raised and lowered; it also will have the option to adjust the buoyancy of its catamaran hulls while under way. The vessel will demonstrate the functionality of a ship that can provide a multipurpose, expeditionary cargo and troop ship that performs efficiently at high speed, in ice, and in shallow waters, and that can even beach itself to load/discharge vehicles up to tank size.

The vessel will have three distinct modes of operation: a catamaran mode for high speeds; a small-water-area-twin-hull (SWATH) mode for stability in high sea states; and a shallow-draft landing-craft mode that provides substantial buoyancy for maneuvering in shallow water. In addition, the Susitna will be the world´s first ice-breaking twin-hulled vessel.

Also interesting is the partnership with commercial industry to see the project to fruition. The Navy is in league with the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and Alaska Ship & Drydock, with the funds coming from the ONR. When launched, the ferry will operate between Anchorage, Alaska and Port Mackenzie in its civil guise while the Navy takes notes.

Naturally the government is interested in MV Susitna’s military applications, and potentially these are considerable. The Navy sees it as key for its expeditionary/amphibious warfare sea basing plans, hence the official moniker of "E-craft". This is also where its transforming abilities come to play, allowing it to morph into a shallow-water "Sealifter" quickly from its Blue Water transport mode. Global Security explains this concept:

The E-Craft is a variable-draft vessel that includes a center hull; a first side hull coupled to a first side of the center hull; a second side hull coupled to a second side of the center hull; and at least one cross support coupling the first and second side hulls, wherein the center hull is configured to be vertically translated with respect to the first and second side hulls. According to a specific embodiment, the vessel further includes lifting mechanism configured to vertically translate the center hull with respect to the first and second side hulls. The lifting mechanism may include a plurality of hydraulic actuators coupled between the center hull and the first and second side hulls.

The center hull may be raised above the water, thereby forcing the side hulls relatively deep into the water (i.e., relatively deep draft) In deep-draft-transit mode, the height of the center hull may be adjusted such that a top deck of the center hull approximately matches, for example, the height of a pier or the like when each of the side hulls and the center hull are in the water, the configuration of the vessel is referred to as the shallow-draft mode. As each of the three hulls is in the water, the hull form is similar to flat-bottomed-monohull vessels and has a relatively high buoyancy and relatively low draft.

In the pre-construction phase the Office of Naval Research said the E-craft along with the other high speed catamarans such as the HSV-2 Swift built by Incat from a catamaran ferry design, as the future of amphibious warfare. As the techniques now stands in the US and other large navies, the idea of amphibious warfare is for very large and costly "motherships" to act as a go-between to the actual landing vessels to get the Marines and their cargo to shore. By doing away with this very costly, large and vulnerable "middleman", shallow draft ferries would carry the troops from a port of embarkation to the landing zone directly and very quickly. Naturally such a strategy would entail the purchase of very many such craft to match the current lifting abilities of large Amphib ships, but historically in wartime conditions, many ships are more desirable and ensures than some will survive to perform their essential mission, by not placing all your precious expeditionary assets in a few giant hulls.

E-craft also has considerable arctic abilities, able to sail through 2 feet of ice. We wonder if this might also be of interest to our Canadian friends, currently searching for arctic patrol vessels?

Here is the MV Susitna’s specifications:
· Length - 195 Feet, Beam - 60 feet
· Displacement: 940 tons full load
· Variable Draft - SWATH mode is 12± feet, shallow-draft landing-craft mode is 4± feet
· Capacity: 100 Passengers and 20 vehicles
· Speed: 20 knots
· Power Plant: 4 ea., MTU 12V 4000 diesel engines


On the web:

Download WorkBoat Magazine's Nov. 2010 Cover Story
E-Craft; Cutting -edge vessel design constructed in Ketchikan, Alaska  (pdf)

Read the Nov. 2010 Cover Story online

WorkBoat Magazine


Source of News & Photo:

Alaska Ship & Drydock


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