The Johan de Witt is completed
‘Most advanced computerised systems on an amphibian transport ship’
The Imtech Marine & Offshore project team, with sometimes as many as thirty members, has bid a fond farewell to the Johan de Witt after more than five years. “The most advanced transport ship in the Royal Netherlands Navy is now on its sea trials in warm waters”, says Naval business unit director Mark Lohmeijer. “It’s turned into a superb reference project.”
When it signed the commission for the prestigious project in 2002, Imtech Marine & Offshore entered into a partnership with Royal Schelde (Damen Shipyards Group) and the Royal Netherlands Navy. The goal? Optimum collaboration in constructing the Royal Netherlands Navy’s new Landing Platform Dock (LPD-2) amphibian transport ship. “We were involved in the project right from the start”, says Lohmeijer. “The great advantage of this was that we could work side by side with the Navy on new technological developments, and also on new applications for existing techniques. The Johan de Witt possibly has the most advanced computerised systems of any amphibian transport ship in the world.”
Imtech Marine & Offshore not only signed up to provide the integrated platform digital systems, the integrated bridge and the navigation system, but also the entire electrical installation and the ship’s propulsion system, as well as the air conditioning and heating, and even the protection against nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The IT systems are made up of a state-of-the-art IPMS (interpersonal messaging) system, a power plant that uses pods to control propulsion, and a fully integrated bridge. “This UniMACS is in its turn composed of an ARPA radar system, an autopilot, an ECDIS Electronic Chart Display and Information System and a Conning Integrated Navigation Information Display. The integrated bridge is an innovation for the Navy, and the crew are really pleased with it. They can see all that they want and need to know at a single glance.”
Quieter, more efficient, more manoeuvrable
The propulsion and energy systems are also distinctive. “All the energy that is needed is generated by four generators, then distributed precisely where it’s needed throughout the whole ship. The high voltage is channelled to the propulsion system, and via transformers to the distribution consoles. The power management system ensures the right energy balance between the propulsion system and internal use, and controls their synchronisation.” The use of pods – which were specially designed in close cooperation with Schottel GmbH & Co – is something new on an amphibious transport ship. “This diesel-electric propulsion system is not just quieter and more efficient, it’s also more manoeuvrable.”
The Johan de Witt is fitted with even more cutting-edge technology in the form of the advanced Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS). The ship can carry an enormous amount and variety of military equipment. The ship’s weight, and where that weight is concentrated, can therefore vary greatly. “The balance control system guarantees constant stability”, assures Lohmeijer. ‘In the event of emergencies like fire, leaks or open hatches, the advanced digital alarm system gives an immediate warning, and instantly shows an overview of the condition of the ship and the location of the emergency. Any breakdowns in the platform systems can be displayed on the mobile phone of the officer on watch if he is doing his rounds. He can see on any of the workstations what the problem is, and take appropriate action. In principle he could sail the ship single-handed, with an unmanned technical operations centre and engine room. And I’m proud to say that the testing of all the IT systems was carried out at our own test site in Rotterdam”, adds Lohmeijer.
There were also challenges enough for our specialists when it came to the ventilation and air conditioning systems. The LPD-2 must be able to sail in a gas-tight condition, as a defence against nuclear, bacteriological or chemical attack. In the event of such an attack, all areas are sealed off from the outside air by means of special filter units. The ventilation systems on the vehicle deck – where large numbers of vehicles have to be able to be loaded and unloaded – and on the semi-submersible dock also demanded a unique approach.
“Now that the Johan de Witt has been completed, it’s left us with rather an empty feeling, but it’s a good feeling too”, says the Naval business unit director. “It’s been a remarkable project, not only because of the advanced technological solutions on board, but also because of the intense collaboration, both between members of the partnership and internally within Imtech Marine & Offshore. We’ve been working for the Navy for decades, and we know their processes. We had many meetings, where the Navy set out their operational requirements and we evaluated what was technically possible. With short lines of communication, and good cooperation between the various disciplines, we were able to demonstrate the added value we provide.”