Thursday, 13 March 2008

Road To Mandalay

'The Road to Mandalay' is German-built, to the design of a standard Rhine cruise ship and flat-bottomed for river work. She is about 101.6 metres long, LBV (that's Length Between Verticals, the Captain informs me) 95.1 metres, 11.6 metres beam, 3.10 metres keel to main deck (depth), draught 2 metres, gross weight 1916 metric tonnes, nett weight 697 metric tonnes. Just over 12 years ago, she had an extensive refit in Germany and England before being brought to Myanmar on a specialist transporter ship to work these cruises.

Every 3 years, she is dry docked in Yangon although, operating in fresh-water, corrosion is not a major problem. A system of sacrificial anodes was tried, but was not effective because the low conductivity of the river water did not allow the intended electro-chemical action.

Propulsion is by two Voith keel-mounted propeller units comprising five vertically-mounted, straight, variable-pitch blades. There is no rudder and steering is by controlling the pitch of the blades. A similar, smaller 4-bladed propeller unit is provided as a bow thruster, making the vessel extremely manoevrable. She can turn in her own length or move sideways.

Power is provided by two pairs of Deutz V12 diesels, each of about 425 horse power. One pair of engines drives the port propeller via a gearbox, the other pair drives the starboard. The ship can make way with two engines or even only one. Blade pitch is directly controlled from what looks like a lorry steering wheel the in wheelhouse by a direct mechanical linkage which has proved very reliable. The throttles are arranged as in aircraft practice, except that 'Idle' is in the middle of the quadrant, with revs increasing either side. Red and green indicator lights show that the the port and starboard engine pairs are in idle. Another lever is moved left or right to control the bow thruster.

I'll add to the description when I can, and link to my photos when they're uploaded.

My thanks to the Captain and Chief Engineer for various explanations - any errors are all my own work.