Coast Guard to build digital twin for Polar Star

Coast Guard to build digital twin for Polar Star

USCGC Polar Star Coast Guard Cutter

Coast Guard Photo

The Coast Guard will be making a digital copy of its only heavy, rapidly aging icebreaker as part of an effort to extend its life.

Canadian manufacturer Gastops will collect data from the USCGC Polar Star – a ship built in the 1970s – to create a computer model that can undergo risk assessments at a relatively low cost, said Shaun Horning, president and CEO. of the society.

“The value is that if we find a problem… it can be fixed and fixed, and the cost is probably two orders of magnitude less than if you found it when you had equipment on the ship and then had to make physical changes, ”he said in an interview.

Engineers will be able to test the performance of the icebreaker during various maneuvers such as turning and navigating in icy environments. Based on the testing, engineers can suggest improvements to the platform design, he said.

Icebreakers are a priority for the service. President Joe Biden’s budget request for fiscal 2022 included $ 15 million to support the effort to extend the life of the Polar Star.

The Coast Guard is working on building a new fleet of heavy duty icebreakers known as Polar Security Cutters. In 2019, VT Halter Marine was awarded a $ 745.9 million fixed price incentive contract for the detailed design and construction of the first Polar Security Cutter, which is scheduled to begin construction this year in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and be delivered. in 2024..

Meanwhile, replacing the Polar Star’s 30-year-old analog control system with a digital control system will be an aspect of the renovation that will need to be thoroughly tested, Horning noted.

“The control system is a particular challenge because you built and designed this machine in the 1970s,” he said. “There are all kinds of subtleties in the existing control strategies that we are going to be able to test and exercise with the computer model, and identify the shortcomings that they have in their current design with this digital system and give them the opportunity to correct those. . “

Due to the age of the ship, it will be difficult to find all the data needed to build a digital replica of the ship and some of it will need to be estimated, Horning said.

Gastops will complete the creation of the digital twin this fall, giving the Coast Guard about a year to assess the vessel’s new capabilities before the planned completion of the project.

The subjects: Maritime safety, Shipbuilding

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