A significant contribution to the improvement of the sustainability of the European transport systems can be obtained by increasing the use of waterborne vehicles. Unfortunately, the safety and reliability of ships is much lower than that of land-based transport systems and aeroplanes.
As a consequence it is necessary to improve the level of safety and reliability of waterborne vehicles, in order to gain the confidence of companies for transporting their goods by ship. Europe leads the world in building large cruise ships, and is also in head-to-head competition in high-speed craft design and building with the non-EU industry, especially Australia and the Far East. It is therefore vital to the EC to design, build and operate appropriately reliable and safe ships in order to remain competitive.
The overall objective of the project was to improve the comfort, effectiveness, safety, reliability and environmental behaviour of ship structures through the application of advanced structural and reliability assessment within design, manufacturing and operation phases, in order to increase public and commercial confidence in the reliability and use of waterborne transportation.
The objective was pursued through a programme of jointly executed research in the area of structural analysis of ships, the creation of research facilities and platforms, and a continuous programme of dissemination and communication of research results. The way in which the programme was designed contributed to the mutual specialisation and complementarities through building up strengths and reducing weaknesses amongst the participants.
The activities of the network covered the different areas related to advanced structural analysis such as:
- specification of the loading appropriate for the various modes of structural response and strength;
- methods and tools for the analysis, both numerical and experimental, of the structural strength and performance, including aspects such as ultimate strength, fatigue, crashworthiness, fire and explosion resistance, and noise and vibration;
- influence of manufacturing methods, and new and advanced materials on the structural strength and performance of ships;
- tools for the design and optimisation of ship structures;
- tools and methods of structural reliability, safety and environmental protection of ships.
The various assessment methods are incorporated in the methods to design and optimise efficient ship structures as well as in the methods of structural reliability to be used to ensure the safety and environmental behaviour of the ships.
The progress towards the overall objective is managed by setting measurable intermediate objectives.
The Network of Excellence was a European Union project involving 33 partners including University Departments, Research Centres and Classification Societies, which exchanged research personnel and conducted joint research on various topics related with Marine Structures which was carried out between 2004 and 2010. Currently, MARSTRUCT is being continued as a Virtual Institute. The three MARSTRUCT Conferences were held at:
- Glasgow, 2007
- Lisbon, 2009
- Hamburg, 2011
The MARSTRUCT series of Conferences had its origin in the MARSTRUCT Network of Excellence, but is becoming a series of Conferences dedicated to Marine Structures so as to allow periodic reporting and discussion of the advances in the field.