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Composition & design of the vessel train

The vessel train is foreseen as a combination of a leader vessel and one or more follower vessels. The vessels may vary in type, size, and technical specifications. Ships may be refits or new build vessels optimized for the concept. NOVIMAR will assess economic and logistic viability of the various compositions and will research new ship designs including optimised cargo handling systems. There are many possible combinations of ships that can form a vessel train.

Ship types and sizes
Depending on the navigation area, the vessel train can consist of inland ships, sea-river ships or short sea ships with a low design draught and low air draught (height of the ship above the waterline) in order to enable them to navigate on rivers too. Each of these types exist in various sizes.

Composition of the vessel train.
The vessel train can consist of a different number of ships that can be identical, similar or very different. The lead ship can be a modified cargo ship or a ship without a cargo hold (floating & moving control station). Follower ships can be dedicated follower ships, ships that can also sail as conventional vessels outside the train or ships that can also perform the role of lead ship if required. The ships can be refits or new build vessels that are optimized to sail with full crew, reduced crew or no crew.

Number of ships
In theory the number of ships in the vessel train can range from two to dozens. However the number of ships in the train has impact on the complexity of operations and control of the vessel train. This is especially true when sizes and manoeuvring characteristics of the individual ships differ.

Design of ships
Ships have a long lifespan that may stretch well over 20 years. Dedicated new build ships should eventually lead to more competitive vessel trains because they can be optimized for reduced or unmanned operations. And further unnecessary human-operator-related components and spaces can be left out of the design. Implementing them will, however, be a long-term activity. To bridge the transition period, retrofitted conventional ships are important to consider.

From this broad range of possibilities, NOVIMAR will first narrow down the most promising vessel train compositions and then perform more detailed analyses on these compositions.