Brussels, 11 Mar 2004
A new Network of Excellence (NoE) on Marine Structures (MARSTRUCT) was launched in Lisbon on 4 and 5 March 2004. The network, including collaborators from 17 countries, will work for five years to improve comfort, effectiveness, safety, reliability and environmental performance of ship structures.
"Maritime transport is very important in a modern society," said MARSTRUCT coordinator Carlos Guedes Soares of Lisbon's Instituto Superior Técnico. "Most of the products being bought and sold today are transported by sea, so this is a crucial area for our economies. The network being launched here today is about improving ships, their safety and the various structures that keep them afloat and keep our commercial products moving."
MARSTRUCT is one of the first NoEs to be launched under the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), comprising 33 partners from 17 EU, non-EU, accession and candidate countries. The network will focus on the application of advanced structural and reliability assessment within design, fabrication and operation. This, it is hoped, will lead to increased public and commercial confidence in the safety and competitiveness of waterborne transport.
Tasks will be divided into individual work packages, comprising:
- Methods and tools for loads and load effects;
- Methods and tools for strength assessment;
- Experimental analysis of structures;
- Fabrication aspects of structures including new and advanced methods;
- Methods and tools for structural design and optimisation;
- Structural reliability, safety and environmental protection.
Addressing the assembled participants, the European Commission's Michael Kyriakopoulos said, "You are all here because of your experience as leading marine researchers. This network is a means of focussing and integrating your efforts, eliminating duplication and bringing about the best possible solutions to the issues at hand."
New FP6 flexibility…
As one of the first maritime research initiatives launched under FP6, MARSTRUCT will be following new procedures aimed at simplifying project management and increasing flexibility.
"Many of us have already worked together successfully with the EU," said Guedes Soares. "This time around we are more in control of the management of this initiative. With the increased flexibility now available to us under the new Framework Programme, I see every likelihood of a positive conclusion to this project."
And new partners
MARSTRUCT features a range of participants, representing the entire chain of actors, from Universities to state and private research institutions to industrial shipyards. Also among the group are a significant number of participants from non-EU, accession and candidate countries, including Bulgaria, Norway, Poland, Romania and Turkey.
"What we have here are simply the best marine structures experts in Europe," says Guedes Soares. "The importance of strong collaborative relationship is very important and we are very much looking forward to working with new partners from the non-EU or soon-to-be-EU states. They all have a great amount of knowledge to share and we want to do everything we can to get them involved in the European research process."
L. Konieczny, of the Centrum Techniki Okretowej in Poland said his group was looking forward to working with new partners. "We have already participated in EU-funded research projects under FP5," he said, "in the form of the OPTIPOD and FASTPOD projects, but we are glad to see more of our Eastern European neighbours now coming on board."
The MARSTRUCT steering committee is expected to meet three to four times a year, says Guedes Soares, with a plenary of all participants about once a year.