The world’s largest vessel really does have to be seen up close to be believed. The Pioneering Spirit, Allseas’ heavy-lift and pipelay vessel, is so ambitious that it’s only being delivered now, nearly 30 years after initial design.
Due to the vessel’s complexity — and to the continuous engineering required to build it — no simulation model has ever been developed to capture all the systems and physics of the $3-billion-dollar megastructure. “That is basically our goal with Vortex,” says Allseas R&D engineer Ate te Voortwis.
Allseas’ ultimate simulation objectives are threefold:
1. Training operators on the vessel for teamwork-intensive activities such as ballast control, top side lift system, and vessel steering
2. Testing new concepts and developments in support of continuous vessel R&D
3. Providing project teams with a tool for visualizing different projects (e.g., to assess clearance for operations, identify camera locations, etc.)
“We’re all mechanical engineers here,” says Ate’s colleague, R&D engineer Ad de Jong, “and we quite soon established that developing our own 3D simulation toolset would be too much. We do a lot of simulations in MATLAB™, all engineeringgrade, detailed hydraulics, etc., but you always have to sacrifice the scale of the simulation if you want to include mechanical dynamics.”