Exceptional technology for an exceptional mission
Posted on 22 October 2019 by Julia Rieß, Images by Die Seenotretter - DGzRS/Steven Keller
Two MTU-powered Search And Rescue cruisers (SARs) belonging to the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS) will be going into service in 2020. The state-of-the-art special purpose vessels, one named Hamburg with internal designation SK 40, and its as yet unnamed twin, the SK41, are each equipped with two 16-cylinder Series 2000 M72 engines. MTU developed the engines especially for coping with the extreme conditions at sea that challenge the rescuers in the course of their missions, which number over 2000 per year. The DGzRS rescue team comprises 180 full-time staff and 800 qualified volunteers, and is poised for action around the clock, whatever the weather. Hence their service motto: 'We head out to sea when others seek safe haven'.
Following its naming ceremony, scheduled for April 2020, the Hamburg will be stationed in Borkum. Its predecessor, the Alfried Krupp is being decommissioned after 32 years in service. The second vessel under construction, the SK 41, will be christened in the new year and stationed in Grömitz. Its name is not to be revealed until the ceremony. This vessel is replacing the Hans Hackmack, which in future will be used to substitute rescue cruisers which are not in service – for example when they are undergoing a general overhaul.
The SK 40 and 41 are the fourth and fifth special vessels in the new 28-m SAR cruiser class operated by the DGzRS, and have 4,000 HP for reaching speeds up to 24 knots. For the rescue teams and crew, going out on a mission also demands other exceptional skills. It is important that the SARs operated by the DGzRS remain maneuverable, no matter how rough the conditions at sea. This is where the MTU engines come in which have to keep on running, even in the event of heavy listing (tilting) or a complete capsize, when the vessel completes a 360° turn around its own axis. The engines are equipped with a special 'rough kit', which includes an extra-deep oil pan with special purpose bulkheads, a modified crankcase breather system and specially adapted engine control.
The sea rescuers
The German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS) is responsible for maritime search-and-rescue missions in the German North and Baltic seas. Its fleet comprises some 60 search and rescue cruisers and boats on call at over 55 stations between Borkum in the west and Usedom in the east. In 2018, the DGzRS carried out 2,156 missions, saving 356 people who were in distress at sea or in danger. Many hundreds of others were happy to rely on the rescuers' services, available around the clock, however adverse the weather conditions. As it has been since the year of its founding in 1865, the DGzRS is financed solely by donations and voluntary contributions. The patron of the service is Germany’s Federal President.