Rolls-Royce to Power World’s First Seabed Mining Ship

Marine Assets Corporation (MAC) mining vessel
Rendering via Marine Assets Corporation (MAC)

The world’s first-ever seabed mining vessel, under construction at China’s Fuijan Mawei shipyard for Singapore-based Marine Assets Corporation, will be powered by Rolls-Royce medium speed diesel engines, according a statement by Rolls-Royce today.

The company says six of their new B33:45L9A engines will provide up to 31.4 megawatts of power for the 227 meter vessel which will be used to extract high grade copper, gold, silver and ore from the seabed in water depths of 1,600 meters.

The vessel is scheduled for delivery in 2017 and will then operate under long-term charter to Nautilus Minerals at the Solwara 1 project in the Bismarck Sea, offshore Papua New Guinea.

Mark Reeves, Marine Assets Corporation, Chief Operating Officer, said: “this is very exciting to be building a ‘world’s first’ again, and we have a long history of using Rolls-Royce power and propulsion equipment, so we know the vessel will perform well.

“Since becoming involved in this project it is apparent that there is huge potential in subsea mining. Nautilus is the market leader in this segment and I believe Solwara 1 is the first project that has actually come off the drawing board. Site surveys and sampling has proven that the subsea mining sector can be extremely lucrative compared to land mining, with mineral content per tonne of ore considerably higher than land based mines.”

John Knudsen, Rolls-Royce, President – Commercial Marine, said: “This contract is a major step forward in the development of our new family of medium-speed engines designed to suit a wide range of ship types. We are very proud that the B33:45 generator sets have been selected to power this pioneering ship, which will be at the forefront of a whole new chapter in underwater exploration.

Rolls-Royce Bergen B33.45 propulsion engine
Rolls-Royce Bergen B33.45 propulsion engine

“Deep sea mining is an exciting new industry, and with our extensive pedigree in the offshore business, we look forward to working with Marine Assets Corporation and their partners in enabling them to become first movers in the extraction of valuable minerals from the seabed.”

The new B33:45 engine was announced last September at the SMM Hamburg maritime convention.  The B33.45 is IMO tier II and tier III compliant (while using an SCR system) and features a modular design and higher power density than its predecessors due to 20% greater power per cylinder as compared to the B32:40.  At the same time, Rolls-Royce notes that this engine will also have reduced fuel consumption as well from 184 g/kWh to 175.

Rolls-Royce says each of these engines will feature Tier III-compliant selective catalyst reduction technology and in addition to the engines, the company will also supply three azimuthing thrusters and two bow thrusters for the vessel.