THE GROUND-breaking vessel Fortescue Green Pioneer has completed a second round of operational trials in the port of Singapore, this time of propulsion and manoeuvrability.

Fortescue Green Pioneer, previously known as FFI Green Pioneer and converted from the former MMA Offshore anchor handling tug/supply ship MMA Leveque, used 6.4 cu m (4.4 tonnes) of liquid ammonia, in combination with diesel and Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO), a second-generation biofuel, as marine fuel over 10 days from 23 April  to 2 May.

Earlier, in mid-March, the vessel successfully concluded seven weeks of world-first test and evaluations of bunkering with ammonia and dual-fuel operation (DCN 18 March).  Both sets of trials were conducted by Fortescue with support from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), government agencies, research institutes, and industry partners.

The first set of trials, conducted by the Fortescue Green Pioneer at anchor, included testing of the vessel’s ammonia storage systems, associated piping, gas fuel delivery system, retrofitted engines, and seaworthiness.    Following this the vessel received flag approval from the Singapore Registry of Ships and the “Gas Fuelled Ammonia” notation by classification society DNV to use ammonia, in combination with diesel, as a marine fuel.

Members of the maritime community visited the vessel during the Singapore Maritime Week in April to learn about the trials, emergency procedures and training of seafarers for the safe handling of ammonia fuel.

To facilitate the recent set of sea trials a further tranche of approximately 6.4 cu m (4.4 tonnes) of liquid ammonia was loaded on 23 April at Vopak Banyan Terminal, Jurong Island. 

A designated test area along Raffles Reserved Anchorage was secured by MPA for the trials, and the Emergency Operations Centre was set up at MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre for representatives of MPA, Fortescue, Vopak, research institutes, and government agencies to monitor the fuel loading and sea trial operations.

Ammonia plume modelling and drone surveillance was also used by the EOC to support safety and incident planning and response. This set of trials can be enhanced to support the sea trials of planned ammonia-fuelled vessels under the Singapore Registry of Ships prior to delivery if required, the MPA said.  

The propulsion and manoeuvrability trials also included tests to validate the management of nitrogen-based emissions, and assessment of the vessel’s engine capability to operate on varying amounts of HVO in combination with ammonia. 

As part of MPA’s efforts to strengthen maritime cybersecurity as vessels become increasingly digitalised and connected, MPA is also in discussion with Fortescue on the monitoring of info-comm technology and operational technology systems onboard the Fortescue Green Pioneer to develop resilience of vessels with alternative fuels against cyber threats.

In the coming months, the Fortescue Green Pioneer is expected to play a key role in driving awareness of the need for the global shipping industry to adopt solutions such as green ammonia, the MPA said.

The project originated with Fortescue Future Industries, which has since been brought under the Fortescue unified identity.