Europe’s leading shipbuilders, coordinated by Fincantieri, started September 1st, 2009 the EU funded research project BESST – “Breakthrough in European Ship and Shipbuilding Technologies”. The contractual Grant Agreement was signed yesterday in Brussels between the European Commission and Fincantieri, on behalf of the consortium, as the coordinator of BESST. The project will last three and a half years.

Initiated by EUROYARDS, the European Economic Interest Group (EEIG), BESST aims to achieve a breakthrough in competitiveness, environmental friendliness and safety in EU built ships with a focus on passenger ships, ferries and mega-yachts.

The BESST consortium is formed by leading EU shipyards, including STX Finland, STX France, Fincantieri, Meyer Werft, Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems and Damen Group. In addition, twenty research institutes and universities, five classification societies and 31 industrial companies (17 of which SME) are part of the research network. Close interaction with ship operators will be achieved through a dedicated Advisory Group. A multi-level management structure, based on the experience of the shipyards in previous R&D and commercial projects, will ensure efficient and targeted work of the large consortium to ensure the desired impact

The strategic objective of BESST is to secure and improve the competitive position of European shipyards in a sustainable way, looking into the medium and long term future. The primary goal is to increase the competitiveness of European built ships through decreased life cycle cost, drastically reduced environmental impact and continually improved safety. The estimated overall impact of BESST will result in a reduction of life cycle cost of roughly 120 million Euro per Panamax ship and a reduction of CO2 emissions by approximately 12 % per ship each year.

The key areas of technical developments include Space Optimisation and Easy Maintenance, Improving Payload to Gross Tonnage Ratio, Cost Efficient Building and Refurbishment Processes, Improved Energy Efficiency and Reduced Emissions, Noise and Vibration, Improved Reliability through Model-Based Design and Condition Monitoring, Optimization of Logistic Chains and Improving Safety and Security.

Advancements from the project will also be applied to other ship types built in Europe through modular and adaptable solutions. This will ensure an impact reaching far beyond the passenger ship sector. The results will be integrated into virtual show cases, i.e. ship concepts demonstrating the technical solutions as well as the life cycle impact compared to current designs. Continuously improved R&D cooperation and networking is seen by the project consortium as the European answer to the challenge of large Asian yards, overcoming the historic fragmentation of European shipbuilding and combining the high flexibility of smaller industry groups with the critical mass to achieve a breakthrough in innovation and market impact.