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Interview with Christian Freiherr von Oldershausen,Vice President Naval Business DNV GL Maritime.

ESD: Your company has the objective to make global seafaring safer and to improve the ships’ performance, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. Civilian operators are certainly interested in best possible economic performance, thus taking advantage of DNV GL’s capabilities. However, what particularities are there with regard to naval vessels, the operators of which prioritise military performance as opposed to economic efficiency?
von Oldershausen: The well-proven principles and processes of classification are increasingly seen by navies or their respective procurement organisations as robust, mature and efficient means of technical assurance and a comprehensive proof of seaworthiness for their more and more complex ships. The objective of applying naval technical assurance through the implementation of a holistic classification process is to verify and confirm compliance of the naval vessel with agreed technical standards and regulations and thus providing confidence for a safe and reliable performance of a naval platform. Even though each Navy has its own way of approaching technical assurance there is a clear tendency that regulatory regimes for naval ships are moving towards the implementation of the goal-based Naval Ship Code (NSC) or parts of it. Undoubtedly the conditions under which a combatant is required to remain safe in addition to the float, move and fight requirements of a warship and its features are beyond those of typical commercial ships. Consequently, the focus on safety by using classification knowledge and process not only reduces the risk of life during peacetime operations but also forms an important and integral part in delivering a combatant’s capability and its operational availability.

ESD: How do you harmonise the objective to maintain a secure, reliable and mission-ready naval platform in accordance with all relevant standards and rules with the demand for fewest possible bureaucracy as well as best-possible efficiency and transparency?
von Oldershausen: The application of classification processes provides a very efficient solution to demonstrate compliance with agreed standards and rules of a naval platform. Of course, this process differs from the usually applied procedure of classification for ships in compliance with SOLAS requirements as set by IMO but the same procedures and systematics are applied. As in merchant shipping, DNV GL’s Naval Technical Assurance may range from the design stage through the newbuilding phase, include the operational use until the end of life of the warship. To be able to address the specific wishes of a navy or naval administration and/or the requirements of a project the DNV GL’s process of technical assurance can be adapted and tailored to these needs. By continuing to develop DNV GL’s Naval Rule set we ensure that it can fit with the NSC and other current or future naval regulatory regimes.

ESD: DNV GL has a strong involvement in research and development. What are your priorities in this area?
von Oldershausen: DNV GL’s maritime innovation projects focus on developing insights into future regulations, upcoming technologies, and sustainable solutions. Some of the key questions we are examining are the impact of new technologies, connectivity, the changing energy mix, and climate change on shipping and classification. Some key areas include autonomous shipping, new fuels and propulsion systems such as batteries and fuel cells. We are also developing rules based on functional and probabilistic requirements. This will enable more efficient and “fit for purpose” ships and structures. Additionally, big data is changing the way the maritime industry works. Increased analysis capability is key to providing insight and decision-making support. Smart management of inspection information helps to assess the integrity of the structure and systems and move towards condition-based inspections. We are also working on maritime information platforms to facilitate advanced ship and fleet performance management.

ESD: What are your current customer navies and which projects are you envisioning to constitute future business opportunities for DNV GL?
von Oldershausen: We currently see an increase of naval procurement activities with many navies including our key markets Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway. The substantive investment programmes in these but also other markets provide substantial opportunities for DNV GL’s Naval Technical Assurance services in continuation of already existing activities.

ESD: Can you please elaborate on the specific advisory services DNV GL offers to the naval market complimentary to DNV GL’s classification process?
von Oldershausen: Over the past several decades, our team of more than 250 advisory specialist engineers, project managers, data analysts and consultants have developed a service portfolio that complements classification services for naval ships. It covers a range of platform design subjects in the areas of Deployability, Survivability and Detectability, in addition to Life-Cycle Management services. For example, DNV GL has repeatedly been involved in the condition evaluation of existing naval ships, including the structural assessment of the hull and in the determination of the used and remaining fatigue life of warships.

The interview was conducted by Peter Bossdorf.