Trieste - Once again the Wärtsilä factory in Trieste, a prime example of technological excellence on Italian soil, is confirmed as a crucible for innovation with record-breaking achievements. The products in the spotlight are its thrusters, specifically the first ten units of its WST-65 series manufactured this year, which represent the largest model of thruster that the Finnish group has built, to date at least. A thruster is a propulsive device consisting of an encased propeller that generates thrust, which can be rotated through 360° around a vertical axis. Installation of one or more of these systems makes vessels extremely manoeuvrable. All ten WST-65 thrusters, each weighing about 90 tons, are equipped with a 5-meter-diameter fixed pitch propeller; the thruster is driven by a 5.5 MW electric engine providing high thrust performance, with speeds of up to 10 knots, stable manoeuvres, and excellent dynamic positioning (DP3). The final destination for these thrusters is the “Sleipnir” semi-submersible platform, under construction at the Jurong shipyard in Singapore for the Dutch company Heerema. The name “Sleipnir” is a throwback to Norse mythology, and refers to the magical horse ridden by the god Odin; a name intended to highlight the platform’s power and speed. This self-propelled semi-submersible lifting vessel is in fact designed for handling heavy loads in the high seas. The rig will be equipped with two 10,000-ton cranes, and with a 220 x 102 metre deck is the vessel close to being the largest of its kind in the world. The order represents another important milestone for Wärtsilä-Italy, and the firm celebrated the delivery of the first of these record-breaking thrusters on February 22nd.
The festivities were also intended to highlight the strategic importance of the Wärtsilä site in Trieste for all business lines of the company, as well as to consolidate its role as a multi-product facility. The event also marked the entry into full operation of the Trieste facility’s new Propulsion division, following its relocation within the plant, and the completion of its refurbishment to better respond to market needs. The design and the business model for Wärtsilä Italy’s Propulsion division arose between 2010 and 2013, with the transfer from Holland and Norway of the production lines for thrusters, gearboxes and variable pitch propellers (CPP - Controllable Pitch Propeller), in effect inheriting the legacy of Wartsila’s LIPS technology. Currently, the Trieste facility can manufacture virtually any size of Wärtsilä’s range of transverse and adjustable thrusters (Wärtsilä Tunnel Thrusters), though it has specialized in systems with power sizes over 3 MW. The facility also produces propulsion systems with variable pitch propellers, mainly intended for military use, thus covering the entire product range up to 7.5 meters in diameter. The versatility and production capacity of the Trieste plant has therefore demonstrated to be an inexhaustible resource for the Wärtsilä Group which, with the launch of every new product, confirms the completeness of a portfolio capable of satisfying all the demands of a rapidly evolving market.