The annual Superyacht UK Technical Seminar, sponsored by Pendennis Shipyard Ltd, took place at St Katharine Docks on Tuesday 18 April and speakers and attendees alike have heralded it a great success.
Over 85 delegates from across the superyacht sector, insurance and legal fields and members of the press attended the event to hear from leading industry professionals discussing the headline issues affecting the sector. The packed agenda covered topics ranging from regulatory changes and sustainability challenges to the impact of Lithium-ion (Li) batteries and alternative fuels.
“I would like start by thanking everyone who joined us, our speakers and delegates, all of whom made the event a great success,” commented Stephen Hills, Chairman, Superyacht UK (SYUK). “We had an incredible line up of speakers who covered a whole host of topics which ignited interesting debate and discussion for everyone in the room.”
Following the SYUK chairman’s address the day got underway with a look at the latest amendments to the revised Red Ensign Group, large yacht code. Phil Noad from the Cayman Island Shipping Register led the session and advised that following several industry working group discussions over the last year the revised code is set to be published in 2024 which will include an updated annex looking at Li battery risks.
Giles Barkley, Faculty of Creative Industries, Architecture and Engineering Course Leader at Solent University, then provided an overview of new qualifications available for the UK’s Superyacht design industry and of the Solent University’s master’s degree. Taking engineers and designers from both inside and outside the marine industry, the master’s course provides students with the tools and the skills needed to ensure the growing Superyacht industry has the knowledge and talent that is required for this niche market.
The Solent University’s master’s degree course relies on real industry projects for the students to solve. Several Superyacht UK members are currently providing these projects, as well as employing graduates, however any SYUK members with projects they would like to put forward for students to complete should contact Giles directly at Solent University.
Ivo Veldhuis, Technical Manager, Mayfair Marine then led a session looking at alternative fuel - hybrid electric battery propulsion systems for high-speed catamarans. The session showed that with the right data there are feasible net zero solutions that can be implemented. Although there are many obstacles and design challenges in implementation, the case study highlighted that much of the technology has now reached design maturity and can be bought off the shelf (although there still parts of the systems needed for marine applications that have not yet reached maturity).
Moving into the afternoon, Vittorio Boccoloni, Senior Lecturer Yacht Engineering, Solent University, provided an insightful talk looking at alternative fuels including hydrogen, synthetic fuels and other alternative fuels and their place in reducing emissions in the Superyacht Industry by comparing how they would affect the design of a 68m superyacht. The study concluded that with the current available technology and design parameters on a 68m yacht, when looking purely at CO2 emissions, HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) is probably the best option. It showed that significant emission reductions can actually be made relatively easily, whilst more investment is needed in the technology and infrastructure and changes in yacht design parameters to allow other alternative fuels with zero emissions to be utilised.
Martin Jackson, Sales Manager at PME Power Systems Group, then provided an overview on MAN engine developments and outlined what is available now and will be available in the future with regards to the development of engines that reduce the emissions on the path to net zero. It was fantastic to see compact Tier III compliant designs meeting today’s emission regulations whilst minimising the impact of the vessels design, as well as gaining an insight into which direction one of the industry’s most predominant engine manufacturers is looking in order to achieve better emission reductions.
Martin was followed by Fabio Fantozzi, the Regulatory Approach Lead at the Marine Coastguard Agency (MCA) who provided an update on the regulatory challenges surrounding alternative fuels and energy sources, and alternative certification pathways. This session reiterated one of the technical seminars long standing messages that when looking at designing something that lies outside of the regulatory ‘norms’, early engagement between all parties is essential. Fabio also showed the current pathway for certification through risk analysis and use of MGN 644 for innovative technologies and alternative fuels. He reassured delegates that the regulations were being updated to allow for a more uniformed and straightforward certification programme as these alternative fuels become more common.
Ollie Taylor, Associate Director, Anthesis Group, responsible for spearheading the growth of its MarineShift360 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) sustainability tool provided information on how Life Cycle Analysis gives businesses the tools and information they need to make the most effective sustainable choices. It was a fantastic talk by Ollie who really drove home the need for all delegates to stop just talking about it and to set some net zero targets for their businesses, as an industry doing nothing is not an option.
It was then over to Jeff Houlgrave, Senior Associate at Marina Projects. In an enlightening session, delegates heard about the challenges that marina and infrastructure developments are facing because of the ever-evolving design of yachts, leading to changes in facility requirements and locations for the marinas whilst pushing the available marinas and infrastructure technology to the limits.
The day concluded with the seminar’s keynote panel discussion chaired by Francesca Conn, Counsel at Hill Dickinson. The session looked at how the hidden risks associated with the increased use of lithium-ion batteries are now causing the superyacht industry to look at the design and operation of vessels.
The expert panel were in agreement that although there are of course risks associated with Li batteries, those being used in the ships systems have minimised risk through various design considerations, flag and class certification and that actually the statistics probably do not back the perceived risk. The majority of the risk comes from additional toys and gadgets bought on board during the vessel’s operational life, which must be minimised through sensible management systems and training. The industry has also recognised and adapted quickly meaning that the risks are already being managed and minimised particularly in yachts over 500GT.
The panel also outlined that with emerging technology being developed in both gas/fire detection and firefighting specifically aimed at Li, as well as REG code updates coming soon coupled with better awareness campaigns, the risks will diminish even further.
“It was fantastic to have such a great turnout at the seminar and to hear from industry experts sharing their knowledge. The day had a wonderful balance of thought-provoking challenges for our industry to digest and factual updates, whilst offering a perfect setting to catch up with industry colleagues and meet some new ones,” commented Ed Tuite, Technical Manager, British Marine.
Throughout the day delegates were also able to explore British Marine’s London Luxury Afloat boat show in the neighbouring marina as well as having plenty of opportunities to network with colleagues and industry peers, before the day closed with a drinks reception sponsored by Laurent Giles Naval Architects.