Clean Shipping and Offshore Renewables

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Naval architect Fangxu Sun talks about his expertise in offshore mooring systems and his passion for transformational change

Tell us what you do

I’ve joined Solis Marine Engineering in Singapore to provide design and analysis services to the offshore and renewables industries and clean shipping sectors. My areas of expertise are hydrodynamic analysis and stability analysis, mooring strength and fatigue analysis, offloading analysis, riser and umbilical analysis. I have always worked in these areas. 

Why did you choose a career into marine engineering and design?

My inspiration was the potential for change in what is a very traditional industry. We can get a lot of resources from the sea – like wind powered energy to reduce carbon-based energy use. This was the area I wanted to work in, and I see it as a lifelong career.

What has been your most challenging job?

I worked on a pipeline replacement project for the Oil National Group Company (ONGC). The scope of work included a lot of newly installed risers/I-tubes on the existing platforms. I led a team to work on the structural design of the clamps of the risers/I-tubes, including methodology development, strength and feasibility check, drawing checks, and communication with the yard during fabrication.

This was a relatively new field (structural design) for me as a naval architect. However, I handled the project on time with my team under the tight time schedule. After the completing the design of the clamps, I moved onto the mooring pattern design and mooring analysis for the pipelay and lifting jobs for the same project. The major challenge here was the existing number of pipelines and platforms, which meant we needed to place our anchor carefully to keep enough clearance with existing installations, avoid anchor uplift, and also maintain suitable availability of the proposed mooring system.

What did that lead to?

I’ve since worked on a range of large-scale permanent installation projects, mooring system designs and strength and fatigue analysis for Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels.

What are you working on now?

I’m focusing on various analysis with regards to the conversion of marine vessels to alternative fuels. Not only do we need to change the fuel tanks, but we also need to build the structures which means there will be additional load, and the loading conditions will be different. Limited deck space is also part of the challenge. We are working on new concepts and ideas and it’s a collaborative effort across the UK and Singapore team.

At the same time, I am assisting the Marine Warranty Survey (MWS) team with document/drawing reviews and calculation checks. Having more knowledge and experience in this area is interesting and helpful for the engineering aspect of my work.

What advice would you give someone considering a career as a naval architect?

Professionally, it’s an exceptionally good idea to choose this area. New, emerging technologies and intelligent, smart applications are being introduced and that’s creating some incredible opportunities. My advice would be to study hard at College because you will need a strong technical knowledge base and a lot of what you do learn will be directly applied in the job. There’s always something new to learn because for every project, there are so many different scenarios to take into consideration.

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