I have landed (and am safe)

October 22, 2019 • 2:15 pm

The headlines for this country:

(Click on screenshot)

I am now ensconced in a hotel by the port in Valparaiso, Chile (the port for the capital of Santiago), and will be leaving in a few days for cruise #1. Chile, as you probably know, is in deep turmoil, with people protesting all kinds of financial inequities as well as corruption. It started as a revolt after the fares in the Santiago Metro were raised, with protestors torching buses and wrecking over 20 Metro stations. The president of Chile then backed down and didn’t raise the fares.

But it didn’t matter. The protests are continuing in several large cities (including Valparaiso), and, as CNN reports, 15 people have been killed.  Here’s more:

Several cities in the country have also been placed under a state of emergency as thousands have taken to the streets. The corporate headquarters of a utility company in downtown Santiago were firebombed Friday, and on Saturday, in the port city of Valparaiso, the offices of the country’s oldest newspaper, Mercurio were torched, Reuters reported.

Hundreds of flights were canceled from Santiago Airport over the weekend and schools have closed. Images on social media show long lines of people queued up outside supermarkets in the capital waiting to buy food and supplies.

My own initial flight to Santiago (on the national airline, LATAM) was canceled the night before I was to leave, and I had to scrabble for a replacement. Fortunately, American Airlines has a nonstop flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Santiago, and I arrived in Santiago this morning, where a nice driver met me and drove me the 90 km to Valparaiso.

There are not many obvious signs of the turmoil where I am. The lines at ATMs are long, and I’m told that there isn’t much food to be had. People are clearly worried. And in Valparaiso we’re under a 6 pm curfew. But my hotel has food and we’re safe here until the ship arrives (the MS Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian vessel and the world’s first hybrid cruise ship), and in four days we’ll be aboard.

I was told people were worried about me, but I’m fine. Thanks for your concern.

Here’s a 20-minute tour of the ship I’ll be on (this is its maiden voyage, but don’t make Titanic jokes), and note the concentration on science. I am a bit worried about the dissection table, as I’m not sure what’s going to be dissected. . .

99 thoughts on “I have landed (and am safe)

  1. Yeah, I was wondering/ worried about that.

    That’s excellent it’s a hybrid ship. I wonder what fraction of the energy comes from the battery?

    1. One of the YouTube people say that the ship can run on full battery power for only half an hour or so. I have no idea whether that’s true, and whether they run on part battery power a lot of the time.

      1. They probably use both conventional and hybrid together and one cannot work without the other for long. Many car hybrids are designed that way.

        1. A ‘plug-in’ hybrid car makes sense – the economy of mains electricity for most of the time and the range of a petrol (gasoline) car when you need it.

          IMO a non-plug-in hybrid (like the original Prius) makes no sense at all, since all its propulsion ultimately comes from gasoline, so it’s just a very complex and sophisticated form of transmission – the only time it can save power is creeping in traffic jams. The rest is propaganda. One is environmentally better off with a light economical car (like e.g. the Ford Fiesta) which doesn’t consume nearly so much energy to manufacture.

          I’d be interested to know – in terms of atmospheric carbon – just how the Roald Amundsen saves anything, since it can’t be ‘plug-in’. Maybe I’m being unduly cynical.


          1. The normal hybrid may be a complex and sophisticated form of transmission, but it sure as hell gives me good mileage, and not just while creeping along in traffic. My latest hybrid the Kia Niro gives me an average of over 70 mph (UK gallons)7 months a year and a little less in winter months.

            1. Yes. I drove one to see if I liked it and I got much better efficiency than even a conventional highly efficient gas engine. I was getting 5.2L/100km on a combined highway, country & in town trip. Mind you it was summer but from my experience it didn’t alter much.

              1. All spring and summer I was getting 3.8 to 3.9 lts per 100 km, but I’m of the age where mpg has more meaning. 🙂 ,

          2. “No sense at all”? Come on, dude. Srsly?

            My non-plugin hybrid regularly gets 54 mpg. It is seven years old, plugin options weren’t available when we got it. (Our second Prius.)

            I don’t think you understand what propaganda is.

            1. Those Prius were solid and are solid. I didn’t like the blind spot of a hatch even though I like the hatch. I want to get a fully electric car as my next car but I am waiting for the increased range that is affordable for me since my commutes tend to vary depending on where I work.

            2. That’s great – I do not dispute your ratio. MPG has some interpretive value.


              MPG is misleading when making comparisons because it is non linear.

              The ratio for accurate comparisons is gallons per mile because it is linear ..,(pretty sure),..

              Check the “mpg illusion” results in Google. I haven’t read about it in a while, but I recall once a car is up near 30-40 mpg, each mpg doesn’t get much. 10-20 mpg vehicles are much worse… take a look…

              1. MPG is the standard way people measure relative efficiency of liquid-fueled cars. I don’t know of an car that reports fuel efficiency in terms of “GPM”.

                One can consider the Toyota Camry for comparison. The “regular” version is advertised with 29/41 MPG (city/highway). The hybrid version at 51/53. I don’t think this is a simple illusion. Nor do I think the difference can be attributed to propaganda.

              2. Make a plot of each

                One is a parabola

                One is a line

                Thus, in only one of those plots is there a linear relationship between a point on one place and another.

                I never said much else besides the word “illusion” which I did not come up with – the authors of the Science magazine paper did.

                That you nor I never saw this “sticker” on a car fits entirely with the notion of “mpg illusion”. There is nothing spooky here – it is math.

              3. I don’t know what sticker you refer to. In any case, I’m not here to argue about whether MPG is better or worse than other measures. I’m just pointing out that there is a standard way these things are reported. My dashboard, and that of other cars, will provide feedback in terms of MPG. That other (better?) measures exist is fine with me. Perhaps auto makers (and the government) should change the normal protocol. What matters here is the question of whether hybrid cars are more efficient/cleaner than “standard” vehicles, despite the fact that all-electric may be even more so.

            3. “My non-plugin hybrid regularly gets 54 mpg.”

              I can get that out of a small turbo diesel with a manual transmission, out of town. As I said specifically, the hybrid really derives its benefit from start-stop motoring and creeping in traffic.

              Bear in mind that the Prius also has an ‘Atkinson-cycle’ motor designed to be as economical as possible – its economy is not entirely down to the hybridness.


              1. Honestly,cr, I don’t get what your point is. That hybrid technology is just propaganda?

                Automobile technology varies in how efficiently it operates and how environmentally friendly/unfriendly it is. All electric cars tend to fall on one end of the spectrum. Gas guzzling V8’s fall on the other end. Hybrid cars fall in between, and they, also, fall on a spectrum depending on weight and other design attributes. Prius falls on the more efficient end of that range.

                I think you’re just being obstreperous at this point.

              2. I agree about the biggest economy advantage being from idling and stop-and-go.

                One of the best ways to improve fuel economy is to learn how to drive efficiently. Consider the extreme mpg lot, coasting on highways. (Not that I think it’s safe).

          3. The main advantage of a non plugin hybrid car over a normal petrol engined car is, I think, the regenerative braking.

            Full electric cars are only as environmentally friendly as the power station that generates the electricity.

            With any kind of car, it’s mostly propaganda. Just making a car is environmentally quite destructive.

            1. I certainly agree with that point. They only really make sense in a country with a predominantly nuclear/hydro/wind power grid.


              1. Power grids are subject to change. Here in the USandA solar and wind have become more cost effective than fossil fuel generation. As a result, power companies are becoming cleaner and coal plants are being decommissioned. It will take time, but the trend is clear. Even the dullards who run the utility in my area see it.

                @Jeremy… Cars will be made. Don’t you think that the ones we do make should be as environmentally clean as possible? Why do you make the perfect the enemy of the good?

              2. “Cars will be made. Don’t you think that the ones we do make should be as environmentally clean as possible?”

                Agreed. But IF the country currently runs predominantly on coal/oil-generated electricity, buying an electric car is NOT necessarily helping the environment right now, since it’s still powered (indirectly) by fossil fuels. To make an improvement, the whole power station – transmission – battery storage chain has to be more efficient than a small modern gasoline/diesel engine, which is not necessarily the case. (The main reason ‘electrics’ are cheaper to run is fuel taxes, not overall power efficiency. My approval of ‘plug-in’ hybrids was purely on practical running-costs grounds).

                Plus there’s the environmental energy cost of manufacturing the car and the batteries, if applicable.

                IF buying a new car anyway then I agree it certainly should be as efficient as possible (and not a hulking great SUV, hybrid or not, unless one really needs one!). But if your existing car is not outrageously inefficient, then buying a new one ‘to save fuel’ and throwing away the old one is not necessarily doing the environment a favour. The energy costs of manufacturing the new car have to be taken into account. I’d say keep the old one until your country has ‘clean’ electricity, then switch.


              3. I’m pretty sure Tesla is claiming that they operate on 100% renewable, largely from their own panels on their factories.

              4. OK, cr, I’m going to finish by throwing up my arms and wondering at your ability to argue that it is isn’t better to get a car that uses a lot less fuel to get around than others. I’m going to mutter to myself in dismay that somehow you see the question of hybrid vs. not as equivalent to “get a new car or use the old one”.


          1. But of course. Also convicts and those who’ve been shanghaied. All so politically incorrect.

            The thought just occurred to me that if the job was advertised as a working “eco-vacation,” woke middle class white people would surely pay well for the privilege (why talk about white privilege!). Working eco-vacations are big business these days

            1. Yes, I discovered it while trying to get some information about how the hybrid system is supposed to save fuel. The company’s own web site reckons 20% savings, but I can’t find out how.

    1. Some of the ones I’ve seen friends go on are basically giant shopping malls/hotel/restaurant combined. A bit much for me but this one looks great. I think I’d spend the whole trip on one of those couches.

  2. Really interesting tour and pictures of the ship. Nothing like it anywhere. Should be a trip of a lifetime, just a bit inconvenient to get to the ship, eh.

    I can only guess the hybrid possibly works like a formula one car. The batteries are regenerated and provide extra power. On a formula one it adds something like an extra 150 hp or something like that. Improves miles per gal. by a good amount as well.

    1. Yes but (and someone will correct me if I’m worng) the batteries on a F1 are charged under braking, plus a little from excess power from the exhaust-driven turbocharger.

      The first of those can’t apply on a ship. They might get a little useful power from the turbocharger (assuming big marine diesels are turbocharged, they probably are) but I would think, if the turbocharger is properly sized for optimum economy, there shouldn’t be much excess power off that anyway.

      at 2:18 claims ‘Fuel consumption 20% less’. They don’t say less than what, but I can believe it, if they’ve carefully optimised the engine design, and the insulation, ventilation etc to reduce the normally-huge ‘hotel power’ consumption of a cruise liner.

      But I doubt the ‘hybrid’ part contributes anything much.


      1. I am not a specialist on the hybrid or the F1 but you do not know what you are talking about. The F1 makes electricity from far more than just braking. You don’t get an extra 130 or 150 hp from just that. If an F1 looses the electrical (hybrid)system they can no longer run in the race because the loss is so much. They also run the distance on one tank of gas with no fueling during the race. They also run faster than they ever did with 12 cylinder cars with much more power. So, with much smaller engines getting much better gas mileage and faster. You better go back and take a better look.

        1. F1 cars recharge the batteries from two sources: braking and excess energy from the turbocharger (MGU-K and MGU-H respectively). These are the only two sources of hybrid energy.

          Those two sources provide two things:

          1. about 160hp when needed

          2. energy to spin up the turbocharger compressor to mitigate turbo lag.

          How can just braking provide 160hp? Well it’s simple, The energy reclaimed during braking is stored in a battery. The power you can generate is potentially unlimited provided you deploy all that energy in a short enough time. The battery in an F1 power unit can store 4MJ and the MGU-K can deploy it all in a little over 30 seconds to give 120kW but it can’t do that for the whole lap.

          Modern F1 power units aren’t significantly less powerful than their predecessors from the previous V8 era but they do use significantly less fuel.

          As to whether the cars are faster with the hybrid engines, that is difficult to quantify because there are many other variables that affect lap time: aerodynamics, tyres and circuit changes are probably the most significant.

          If an F1 looses the electrical (hybrid)system they can no longer run in the race because the loss is so much

          Losing the MGU-K is not necessarily the end of the race. Ricciardo lost his MGU-K while leading the Monaco Grand Prix last year and still won. Outright power is not that important at Monaco and it’s really hard to overtake there.

          1. Rattling off information from the internet is fine, we do it all the time. I just did it a while ago with that video. But the fact remains technology in construction is what F1 is all about. That is why they give big bucks to the constructors that win. They do not give out money to drivers, that is the owners job. Also they continue to break records on F1 tracks every year with the newer technology. The V12 and V10 and V8 engines of the past created hp nearly equal to the hybrids of today. But the new ones beat hell out of the old big heavy engines. The hybrid is part of the reason. Put you foot to the floor in a Tesla and find out what electric power can do.

            They also run the new technology at F1 for several races before changing engines and transmissions and do it with much better gas mileage. Some folks here seem to have the idea that hybrid is just a passing fad. It is not.

            1. That is why they give big bucks to the constructors that win.

              That’s not strictly true. In fact, they give the biggest bucks to Ferrari. They also give big bucks to Mercedes, Maclaren, Williams and Red Bull and this is mostly because of the deals they agreed with those particular teams.

              I agree there is no turning back to the older ICE only formula. The modern engines are as powerful as the older engines but are much more fuel efficient and, as you say, built to last longer.

              Put you foot to the floor in a Tesla and find out what electric power can do.

              A Tesla is full electric. It’s not really comparable. I can’t see a full electric car ever being competitive with an F1 car, at least not over the F1 race distance. There’s no battery technology available that will hold enough energy.

        2. “I am not a specialist on the hybrid or the F1 but you do not know what you are talking about. The F1 makes electricity from far more than just braking.”

          Such as, what? Other than the turbocharger (which I mentioned).

          Where else do they get electric power from?


      2. [1] 2016 PRESS RELEASE SOURCE :


        In addition to the hybrid power solution, the vessels will have the latest automation and control systems, including the Rolls-Royce Unified Bridge, the first delivery of two azipull propellers using permanent magnet technology, two large tunnel thrusters, stabilisers, four Bergen B33:45 engines, winches and power electric systems.


        The hybrid technology for MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen is planned for delivery in two phases. In phase one, auxiliary battery power will provide large reductions in fuel consumption related to “peak shaving”. This solution is to be installed on the first expeditionary ship ready for delivery in 2018. For phase two, larger batteries will be installed, enabling the possibility of fully electric sailing across longer distances and over longer periods of time. This will be used when sailing into fjords, at port and in vulnerable areas allowing silent and emission free sailing. Rolls-Royce aims to install this new technology in ship number two, which is scheduled for delivery in 2019. The goal of Hurtigruten is also to refurbish ship number one with the same technology.

        Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten, said: “The future of shipping is, without a doubt, silent and emission free. We will use our new expeditionary ships as groundbreakers for this new technology and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible, today.”


        Hybrid technology, in combination with the construction of the hull and effective use of electricity on board, will reduce the fuel consumption by approximately 20% and CO2 emissions from the ships by 20%. This amounts to more than 3000 metric tons of CO2 per year.

        “A passenger ship requires enormous amounts of energy to operate, and so far, there have been no technologies able to fulfil the requirements of a fully electric Hurtigruten ship. Hurtigruten’s new ships will probably be the first in the world,” said Daniel Skjeldam.

        Another innovation to be installed on MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen is main propulsion thrusters that use integrated permanent magnet (PM) technology instead of being powered by separate propulsion motors. Over the last two years, Rolls-Royce has launched a range of propulsion and deck machinery driven by PM technology. From 2017 a new azipull model will be on offer, and this is the product specified as the main propeller units on board Hurtigruten.

        Azipull thrusters with pulling propeller and streamlined underwater skeg have proved highly popular propulsion units since they were introduced in 2003. Over four hundred and fifty units have been manufactured by Rolls-Royce (in Ulsteinvik, Norway) to date. With the introduction of electric drive through the use of permanent magnets, a proven Rolls-Royce technology is ensured a prolonged life, according to Knut Eilert Røsvik, Rolls-Royce, Senior Vice President – Propulsion: “We expect to see a shift from mechanical to electrical propulsion systems, and we are well positioned for this shift. We have invested in PM technology for more than ten years, and already have a lot of experience with it.”

        The PM motor provides a very high efficiency over a wide speed range and reduces the space required in the thruster room. The propulsion system is well qualified for ships with ice class demand. Combined with the proven high propulsive and hydrodynamic efficiency of the azipull, this will be a winning combination.


        The engine offers 20% increased power compared to its predecessor, delivering the same output with fewer cylinders. This lowers the costs through the engine’s lifecycle, and also allows for smaller machine rooms on board. The engine meets the international environment requirements for IMO NOx Tier III with support from a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system.


        Full Rolls-Royce scope of supply:

        Main Generating Sets: Four Bergen B33:45, each with scrubber system for removal of NOx
        Battery system
        Propulsion system comprising two Azimuth Thrusters – Azipull, with permanent magnet motor, and two tunnel thrusters.
        Remote control system
        Stabilisers, type Aquarius 100
        Dynamic positioning system, DP0
        ACON Integrated Automation System, including Acon Connect and Acon Energy.
        Unified Bridge including chairs, consoles and auxiliary bridge control
        Mooring winches and cable lifter units of electric frequency converter.
        Rolls-Royce Power Electric System, technology including generators, motors, switchboards and a Power Management System
        Design, basic design and detailed engineering


        “Initial calculations for typical operations in Arctic areas show that it could be possible to save around £70,000 (NOK 750,000) per year in fuel costs”

        1. Thanks for that.

          “Hybrid technology, in combination with the construction of the hull and effective use of electricity on board, will reduce the fuel consumption by approximately 20% and CO2 emissions from the ships by 20%.”

          They don’t actually say how much saving comes from ‘hybrid’ and how much from ‘hotel power’ savings – which I think would be a fruitful source of saving. Better insulation, more efficient LED lights, etc. Should probably be applied to all ships.

          CO2 emissions inevitably go hand-in-hand with fuel consumption.


        2. P.S. How do they stop the ice from knocking the ‘azipull’ propellers off? (How does any icebreaker?) I’m not being facetious, I’m genuinely puzzled.


          1. READ THIS DETAILED ARTICLE – it has photos & diagrams & evrytin. Small sample:

            Azipod propulsion in icebreakers

            The Azipod propulsion system enables a vessel to break ice using the revolutionary Double Acting (DA) principle […] The DA principle means that the vessel can be designed with the stern optimized for icebreaking and the bow optimized for another condition such as a bulbous bow for open water or a heavily ice-strengthened bow for multi-year icebreaking by repeated ramming. It is well known that when going astern, the ice resistance of a ship will decrease as a result of the propeller flow around the aft part of the hull, which, among other factors, reduces friction. However, ships equipped with conventional rudders are difficult to steer when going astern. This problem does not affect ships equipped with an Azipod system, as the propeller thrust can be steered in any direction (see Figure 1).

            The Azipod system greatly improves the manoeuvrability of ice-going vessels. The turning unit allows the propeller thrust and wake to be directed against the ice, meaning it can be effectively used in ice management tasks such as [2]:

            – Breaking the vessel through ice ridges
            – Vessel operation in ice rubble
            – Clearing a wide channel behind the vessel
            – Clearing ice around the hull of the vessel or from a structure or platform
            – Breaking level ice or pack ice to smaller pieces
            – Clearing ice between the pier and the ship

              1. Actually I mis-spoke, as I understand it a ‘bulbous bow’ is the projecting bit underwater, almost like the old ‘ram’ bow, not the big blunt rounded bow of icebreakers.

            1. Michael – reading that, it seems evident that the ‘Azipods’ must be quite strongly reinforced and mounted to withstand, shall we say, casual contact with ice. And it appears they do envisage grinding away (‘milling’) what must be lighter or more broken ice with them.

              For the really heavy thick ice, they note that the ships would operate bow first in the time-honoured fashion:
              “However, all the vessels used for IM [Ice Management, in the Beaufort Sea specifically] have a high ice class in common and they are usually equipped with very strong bows intended for breaking the MY floes by repeated ramming. When operating in MY ice conditions, great care should be taken when rudders and propellers or azimuthing thrusters come into contact with the ice. With MY ice, the main mode of operation is bow first.”

              I guess that answers my question. Thanks for the reference.


              1. The vessel has stabilizers [little fins] on each side amidships – I don’t know what happens to those – perhaps well below the ice level anyway. The two rear thrusters are also fairly deep & thus the surface ice isn’t a concern perhaps.

              2. I think there is a difference between cruise ships that can handle ice and ice-breaker ships. Often ice breakers keep passages open for other ships. Canada has those in the north.

              3. Hi Diana, I think you’re right. That long article that Michael posted a link to details many different categories of ice and implies a wide variation in ice-breaking capability for ships.


    2. I think all hybrids and electric cars use regenerative braking and the gas engine also charges the hybrid engine but there are different types of hybrids. Some can go on electric for a bit of time, others always need both engines and you should not drive it only on the electric but the electric provides boost and also starts the car going from stop etc also letting the gas engine shut down during idle. Plug-ins store the energy in big battery packs from being charged via outlet and can use that energy until it needs to engage the gas engine.

    3. The MS Roald Amundsen explorer is powered by a “hybrid solution” in the sense that it is fuelled exclusively by diesel oil which powers 4 x Rolls Royce Bergen B33:45 engines each of which spins a shaft. The shafts attach directly to four local “Hybrid Shaft Generators” – fancy words for a dynamo.

      The electricity produced by the HSGs can be routed [all or in part] to the propulsion system – any excess electricity goes to battery storage &/or to provide direct power for high amperage items such as cranes.

      This kind of arrangement is very common in smaller shipping such as trawlers & exploration vessels – there’s no physical connection between the power generation & the propulsion system i.e. there is no heavy, wasteful direct drive shaft from the engines to the props. Thus you can [for example] locate absolutely everything important at the bow of the vessel – the radar, communications, bridge, crew accommodation, food & other consumables storage, kitchens, fuel bunkers, workshops, maintenance, spares & engine room – all in one bow multi-story unit & then it’s flexible empty space all the way back to the stern. At the stern you can have one or two electrically-driven propellers bolted to the outside & relatively tiny little boxes inside [fridge-sized] that control the electrical supply to the prop motors.

      The fully electric propulsion will integrate two “Azipull azimuth thrusters” driven by permanent magnet (PM) motor and two tunnel thrusters [SEE VIDEO BELOW]. The PM motor will deliver high efficiency across different speeds and will minimise the space needed in the thruster room.

      The Hybrid Shaft Generator (HSG) mentioned above is an advanced power electric system that enables a much more flexible use of engine & propeller speed variations to maximise both propeller & engine efficiencies, which helps to reduce exhaust CO2 and NOx emissions.

      Here’s a RR PM Thruster being tested. Notice how quickly it can respond to different prop speed requirements & to reverse speeds. The whole prop module can rotate on a vertical axis too so that the vessel is extremely manoeuvrable:


        1. There’s a post on here [around 18 months ago] with an explorer vessel which was built to tote around a deep dive people submersible. Lovely boat with a huge cable/electrical/airline reel to drop the sub & it works the same way. A high voltage busbar that runs throughout the vessel to drive the reel & the crane & the propulsion then two lower voltages for the machine shop & a lower one for general power distribution.

          It makes so much more sense on medium-sized vessels to have one system for everything rather than the old fashioned, wasteful propulsion on a direct [or stepped] mechanical drive & then separate generators for each of the electrical devices.

          1. “It makes so much more sense on medium-sized vessels to have one system for everything rather than the old fashioned, wasteful propulsion on a direct [or stepped] mechanical drive…”

            I would dispute that, though it does depend very much on how you define ‘medium-sized’.

            There is an inescapable efficiency loss in converting diesel engine output to electric power, and back to mechanical power to drive a prop. As I recall, the best efficiency for a large fixed-speed electric motor of several hundred horsepower would be around 92-93% (it dropped off markedly at lower loads). I would expect a generator to be similar. So that’s around 85% (or 15% power loss in transmission). A direct shaft would have to be very badly designed to lose that much.

            Now electric drive is probably much more convenient and quicker responding in manouvreing – such as dive boats or icebreakers or what-have-you. But a freighter that spends 99% of its time plodding along at its nominal cruising speed for which the diesel motors and propellers have been designed, I very much doubt would benefit from electric drive. And the propshaft might be heavy, but so what? – it’s in the bottom of the ship, where weight is not a detriment, and while it’s rotating at steady speed it wastes no power other than losses in the bearings.

            I can see where the Roald Amundsen with four diesels and generators – and storage batteries – could mix’n’match the number of engines running and use the batteries as load balancing to optimise its efficiency. But then there is also of course, a loss in charging and discharging the batteries (which I suspect is significant but I can’t find figures on). Essentially all its power comes from burning diesel in the engines. I would think the most efficient operation would be to run one, two, three or four diesels at their best-efficiency speed, delivering 100% of their output to the props (minus whatever is used for ‘hotel power’) and not use the batteries at all.


            1. The electric motors that drive the four props are over 98% efficient according to RR. There’s two electric-powered PM thrusters at the stern which can swivel 360 degrees in a horizontal plane & there’s an electric-powered, fixed position, PM tunnel thruster each side of the bow that point sideways [away from the hull]. This vessel has an ice breaker hull & all four thrusters are equally powerful to negotiate up to 1.5 metre thick ice! [that figure is from memory, yesterday’s reading]

              Providing a mechanical linkage to all four props from one engine room would be extremely undesirable & difficult to maintain & a nightmare to swap out for servicing. These electric thrusters can be swapped out in very little time without much hassle re hull integrity. The mechanical linkages [going around a lot of corners] needed to get two props that can swivel at the back just doesn’t happen on this size of vessel. The way it’s done with a mechanical linkage is by each fixed prop having a rudder immediately astern of it, hanging down from the hull – as you can imagine these rudders redirect the water flow from the props & this system is especially inefficient at ice breaking speeds. Plus a lot more things to break.

              According to RR there’s quite a bit of variation in power loads for driving the boat & there’s a significant efficiency gain from slurping up the spare electricity & doling it out again. No doubt all four diesel engines are not needed at all times & one adds/removes an engine to keep at peak efficiency.

              When comparing a mechanical & a hybrid solution one must also factor in that the hybrid vessel is more compact too. Which is more efficient? According to RR nobody knows yet because this vessel is designed for polar & Norwegian coastal [inc fjords] conditions. If this thing is in cruise mode in open waters, then I expect the old tech is superior.

              I will put up reading links in a mo.

              1. 98% seems quite extraordinarily efficient for an electric motor. (I’m going back a decade or two, to installing very large sewage pumps driven by motors off the mains. Since they ran continuously, their power consumption was large and efficiency was a significant consideration). If they have got it that efficient I’m surprised but encouraged.

                I certainly agree that for manouvreing – such as icebreakers or ferries that need to dock often – thrusters are much more effective than propellers, and may even be more fuel-efficient if it saves tugboats. It does depend a lot on the ‘operating profile’ of the boat.

                The biggest way for a ship to lower its fuel consumption is to just reduce power and cruise a bit slower, even if the efficiency drops off a bit. That applies whatever its propulsion system, of course.


              2. ‘… thrusters are much more effective than propellers PLUS RUDDERS…’
                is what I meant. 🙁


            2. For another data point on electric motor efficiency, consider the motors that Tesla makes for their cars.

              The earlier model Teslas used AC induction motors that have an efficiency of 93%. For the model 3 they designed a new permanent magnet motor that achieves an efficiency of 97%. New production of earlier model Teslas, the S and X models, will be using the new PM motors too.

    4. One must be careful here and in other replies to distinguish power from energy. A pair of circular definitions is
      “power” as: energy per unit of time;
      “energy” as: power applied over an interval of time.
      Horsepower is power, so is not directly what some method of charging provides. In principle, you could get an arbitrarily large amount of power from pathetically small battery charging, as long as the time for the power application is infinitesmally short.

      I won’t live even close to long enough for it, but ideally ship propulsion should become pure electric, with continuous distance charging from satellites which have enormous areas of solar panels garnering all that energy directly from the sun. This assumes that very long distance charging will one day be achieved. Then dump the diesels!

  3. I’d be less worried about the dissection table, and more worried about where the stuff on the buffet comes from. . . .

  4. That looks like an amazing ship. I followed the link to look at what cruises are available to Antarctica and it appears that their pricing is much lower than other trips I investigated. Had given up on the idea of an Antarctic trip, but will now have to reevaluate.

    Have a great trip.

      1. Click on the link in the post that has the name of the ship and you will go to hurtigruten’s web page. You can then search for trips. Some of there trips to Antarctica are as low as 5,999 euros. Cheapest trip on the Roald Amundsen seems to be around 9,190 euro. That is much, much cheaper than any other comparable trip I have found. They have several different boats. I don’t know about included lectures, but it would seem that this company is first rate. I would love to take a trip that includes South Georgia Island, but these are not on the same ship. They have on trip that includes the island that is 8,748 euros, and other trips I looked at that included South Georgia tended to be more in the $20,000 range.

        1. Although I did Hurtigruten to Svalbard, and, modulo value for money, would very highly recommend them, there is another line, called Quark Expeditions, headquarters in Toronto I think (and goway.com work with them I know) who seem to do very similar trips with small numbers of passengers. (I think I’d prefer some prisons to being stuck on a 7,000 passenger cruise!) Quark’s ‘cruises’ seem in pricing to be comparable, maybe a bit less, than Hurtigruten, but I have no experiences nor references there.

          I too elsewhere here have expressed a strong desire to get to South Georgia. Hurtigruten do, but not sure about Quark. In their Antarctic visits, both typically go roughly to the area where the bulk of Shackleton’s men were finally rescued. It is barely past, if that, the Antarctic Circle. But Svalbard gets you to about 1,000 km. from the North Pole. Big difference between being washed by some remnants of the Gulf Stream versus having the South Pole at near 10,000 feet altitude.

  5. I can’t wait to read more about your expedition! We saw the Roald Amundsen in drydock in Vancouver earlier this month. Amazing ship!

  6. Stay safe, Jerry, and enjoy your trip! My brother also wants to take this trip, so I’m especially interested in knowing how it goes.

  7. What an amazing ship! Stay safe and have a wonderful, once in a lifetime trip. Thanks so much for taking us along with you.

  8. I’m glad you’re safe! Make sure you return safely home, too. In the meantime, have a wonderful time on your trip!

  9. I am a bit worried about the dissection table, as I’m not sure what’s going to be dissected …

    There’s an old saying that if you sit down to play poker, look around the table, and can’t tell who the sucker is, the sucker is you.

    Not that THAT has any relevance to YOUR situation, but I’d still be wary were anyone aboard the MS Amundsen to ask you to lie down, and not to worry ’cause this won’t hurt a bit. 🙂

    1. Yes it is, especially in Latin America. The degree of inequality is what makes this part of the world unstable. My country, Ecuador, experienced terrible riots and a complete shutdown, flight cancellations, food shortages, etc two weeks ago, for the same reason as in Chile: a large fare hike and more expensive gas. When people are pushed to the limit in their daily existence, it doesn’t take much to make them fight back. I see Bolivia is also up in arms today,because of alleged electoral fraud.

  10. Bon Voyage! The trip on the Roald Amundsen looks to be a dream, and also a little more comfortable than Amundsen’s own vessel for the South Pole expedition, the Fram. It was a three-masted gaff schooner, with diesel auxilliary power, but no hot tub.

    1. The next version of this ship will have a 9 hole golf course and a basketball court. I think hot tubs are Scandinavian. Aren’t we talking major appropriation here?

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