Smoke billowed from the vessel as flames grew taller. Soon, there was darkness. A complete blackout left passengers on the cruise ship initially disgruntled and then worried. Fire disrupted life aboard the vessel − an additional diesel generator (ADG) would have been a valuable tool to mitigate the drama.

This scenario motivated the team at Croonwolter&dros. Most ships have an emergency diesel generator (EDG), to keep them technically and mechanically operational should disaster strike. But these do not supply power to guests’ accommodations.

"We wanted power availability for the hotel part of the ship in case of a major fire," says Antoin Kuenen, sales manager in Croonwolter&dros’s marine and offshore division. ADGs are not just for keeping guests happy and allowing them to read a book at the bar. They also add another layer of safety by providing reserve power should the EDG require maintenance or fail. Acting as an additional emergency feed, ADGs also offer reserves to firefighting systems. "ADGs provide additional power supply for safety and comfort," Kuenen says.

Just because a vessel has an ADG installed does not mean power supply is immune to unpredictable upsets. In the case of the fire mentioned above, the ADG could have resolved the power supply issues, but it also depends on where the fire is. If the distribution panels are in the fire zone there will be trouble, but most of the time, Kuenen says, ADGs will be able to resolve power issues.

We are completely responsible. Customers just need to turn the key of the engine, and it starts running – it’s totally operational.

Separate system

Croonwolter&dros’s ADG units are housed inside a prefab deckhouse that is a complete engine room. The diesel engine, generator and alternator switchboards, as well as auxiliaries such as firefighting capabilities and lighting, are all inside the deckhouse. Plus, the whole system is a turnkey solution.

"We take full responsibility, relieving the cruise line of having to deal with multiple contractors, obligations and responsibilities," Kuenen says. "We take the job, conduct a full survey, provide a naval architect and get the whole job done, including installation and maintenance."

The provision of a naval architect is as much about technical expertise as aesthetic ideals. "They don’t just plonk a box on the top of the ship," Kuenen says. Instead, Croonwolter&dros is there from the beginning, suggesting the unit’s position and examining whether additional construction, reinforcements, cables and pipes are needed for the vessel to accommodate the build. "We are completely responsible," Kuenen says. "Customers just need to turn the key of the engine, and it starts running – it’s totally operational."

Minimum stress

Much of what Croonwolter&dros does is designed to minimise stress and disruption to the vessel’s normal operations. This carries through to its servicing options. Necessary work on vessels, whether in the dry dock or while operational, requires specific skills and resources. Kuenen says his team is equipped for both. The important attributes to possess are communication skills and discipline, with the former being particularly useful when the vessel is in operation.

"There needs to be good cooperation and interaction with a ship’s crew because it is their ship," Kuenen says. "When you have to say to the crew, ‘Okay, tonight or tomorrow morning we will have to black out part of the ship because we need to connect to the main switchboard’, you need them to work around you."

Likewise, passengers on board are enjoying their holiday and cannot be disturbed. "You need to comply with the rules and regulations on board and that is something we can do perfectly," Kuenen says. "This helps the cruise line because it doesn’t have to wait until dry dock for certain things."

But if part of the deck needs to be taken out then this must wait until dry dock, when discipline is so important. "There may be up to 2,500 contractors on the ship, with deadlines of a week or two, vying for the same space to complete their particular jobs. We need to work fast and with control. This is the flexibility the company provides," Kuenen says.

Providing the complete package is what makes the company a market leader. "Our competitors can only do parts, such as piping or cabling, but we have a total portfolio including mechanical and electrical engineering, [and] a naval architect," Kuenen says. "We can also manufacture steel and aluminium, as well as install cabling and piping. We maintain all of it."