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There is a lot common in composing music and designing a ship. Ship design is in a way a presentation of co-operation like symphony orchestra.

During the years I have gone through tens of vessels, audited electrical and propulsion systems, troubleshooted or just evaluated for technical improvements. Conclusion is that ships are ageing. Some of them are ten years old immediately when they sail out from the building dock. Some just wear in use.

But the fact is, that very rarely, the utilization that was designed, is fully available after five years in operation. Planned life of ships is longer than the design effort was providing. Every ship in the world is unique and the best in the world, when it comes out. Unfortunately this is fast fading feature (FFF) and the vessel do “under-perform” quite soon due its specific limitations.

What happens? Here is an interesting comparison to Mr. Mozart, who composed classical music long long time ago, as we all know. How is it that his masterpieces are still alive and performing at the same quality as originally?

These are for sure very complex stuff. I would not be able to list all the instruments that he took into account. Which ones of the modern music achievements are still listened after few hundreds of years? Culture Club? Oppan Gangman style? 21 pilots? With all respect, I doubt, but let’s hope.


What differentiates Mr. Mozart from majority of us – the average rock’n’ roll stars or wannabes – is that he really knew the instruments. He knew how they all play together.

Not just one or two, but all of them. And he had the intelligence of managing the total for the best outcome performance. Probably he was little bit crazy as well, which is needed sometimes in life.
He made it work for his innovativeness and as his driving force.

He was also considering the big picture, how his new compose is matching his earlier production. Does this new masterpiece works alone as an individual piece of art?
He did focus also how different teams inside the orchestra are working together. And finally he took care of smallest details to make it perfect.

The result was outstanding outcome and long-lasting products. “A fleet of well sailing vessels”.


Nobody is designing poorly on purpose. And vice versa. Everybody aims for the best possible solution, but in the ship building it is not only about artistic outcome.

As a matter of fact artistic impressions may mislead the design into drastic inefficiency. There are several limiting factors, which guide the design into the direction we usually get.

Something in the final outcome is then not matching the operational requirement and all the conditions correctly. It may be, for example, that vibrations in the restaurant table are too high for propulsion clutching at the designed speed. Or that auxiliary engine funnels are heating too much and additional engines needs to be run.

All this kind of “ageing” is reducing the overall efficiency, increasing the operational costs and from this point, reducing the owner’s willingness to utilize vessel for a longer time.

We are not all Mozarts. Why this happens and how could we avoid this?

My answer to this is that we should work more in groups. There is hardly any shipyard in the world that is asking for a second opinion. We could cross-review our designs more and let outside parties to comment or to find loopholes that may have been unnoticed otherwise.


Mozart didn’t have classifications society on his back advising what is the minimum diameter of tuba horns output piping. He didn’t either have safety rules defining the minimum distance between the musicians.

Therefore we cannot draw direct line between him and the ship building. But we should definitely take his attitude and approach to consider efficiency on several layers.

For the sake of immediate emissions reductions, we should do at least that already today. And as we have new options to design with more environmentally friendly solutions, we should play with those.

Just because I believe that composing with such instruments makes the music lasts longer.

It also makes the world last longer.


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Managing the electrical system project in a ship

Heikki Bergman

I am expert on supporting conceptual decisions and pre-design in electrical ship concepts and modernizations. I have worked in power electronics since 1994, completely in marine since 1998. I have long and practical international experience.

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