More than year and a half after the contract was awarded, Europe’s first conversion of a dredger to dual-fuel capability combining LNG and MGO is close to completion.Yesterday, February 26, a technical presentation on the Samuel de Champlain project took place at Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque to an invited audience of Damen customers and other companies with an interest in the technology and its potential.During the technical presentations the various challenges that the project team encountered as the conversion proceeded were discussed. The customer Dragages-Ports and the three main suppliers/subcontractors of the project also spoke about their specialist roles.The project was a complex one and not without its challenges. A decision to change the engine manufacturer once the project was underway required a fresh approach to their integration, and the interfacing of all the main systems with the new propulsion plant plus the extensive pipe works required meticulous planning and careful execution.The previous propulsion system of Dragages-Ports’ Samuel de Champlain was diesel-electric burning MGO, and so the contract included the change of generators to dual-fuel models and the installation of on board LNG storage facilities.“The Samuel de Champlain conversion has been the subject of much interest within the dredging industry and the maritime industry in general,” said Fabien Guillemot, Commercial Manager at Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque. “LNG isn’t new, of course, but this ground-breaking conversion of an existing vessel opens up new possibilities for everyone. With environmental regulations set to tighten ever further in the foreseeable future, the success of this project is evidence for owners of ships operating in coastal waters and emission control areas that there is an alternative to scrapping old vessels and building a new one.”Following her final commissioning the Samuel de Champlain will return to her regular duties of dredging the Loire and Seine rivers.The conversion has been part of an EU-supported initiative to promote LNG propulsion in short-sea vessels operating along the European Atlantic coast.
Meanwhile, the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee has made a decision on the issue over whether the state has the right to force schools to reopen.On July 6, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an emergency order that required public schools statewide to reopen their campuses on weekdays or risk the possibility of losing state funding. With the school year set to begin with virtual-only learning in Palm Beach County on Aug. 31, parents, students and staff are making last-minute preparations.“This will not be a typical year,” said Dr. Donald Fennoy, the Superintendent of the School District of Palm Beach County, said during a news conference last week.The district made the decision in July to delay reopening until the end of August, and to offer remote instruction exclusively for the time being.Schools are slated to reopen their campuses one week after the county moves to phase 2 of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan. However, parents and students would still have to option to continue with virtual learning at that point, if they so choose.For now, students will follow a regular bell schedule, and teachers will offer live classes every weekday, just as they would on campus.“Please know, the school board and I are committed to reopening our campuses as soon as it is safe to do so,” Fennoy added.A recent district survey revealed that nearly 20 percent of students will choose to continue learning online when phase 2 begins, while 37 percent will return to campus. Another 39 percent remain unsure.District officials emphasize that parents and students may not move between online and campus learning from one week to the next.Last week, the district sent all families an email with a guide to the school year, available here.In addition, the district has established a hotline at (561) 969-5840 to answer questions about the start of the 2020-21 school year.The school district’s IT Service Desk is available at (561) 242-4100 Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.The first day of school on Monday will be very different than any school year before. But one thing hasn’t changed. We are here for you and we are in this together. #GoingTheDistancePBCSD @AngelaBrentHar1 @ShineonSPES pic.twitter.com/OEZW1uu0Hg— PBCSD (@pbcsd) August 30, 2020 Last Friday, the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with Corcoran and Gov. Ron DeSantis, by issuing a stay Lee County Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson’s ruling that the state mandate was unconstitutional.Nonetheless, the case will not necessarily go straight to Florida’s Supreme Court, as the appeals court struck down that request from both sides in the case.Final briefs in the case are due by Sept. 9, according to the News Service of Florida and Miami television station WFOR.The Florida Education Association (FEA) originally brought the issue to Dodson, arguing that the state’s mandate violated the Florida Constitution’s guarantee of “safe” and “secure” public schools.Now, FEA President Fedrick Ingram is fighting back.In a statement released after Friday’s ruling, he says, “We are going to keep fighting because lives are at stake. This is not about closing schools or opening schools. This is about allowing local districts to do what is best to protect local families.”Last week, Dodson had issued a temporary injunction leaving decisions up to local school districts.Allowing Dodson’s order to stay in effect “would threaten to interfere with the ongoing reopening of schools by local districts and disrupt plans that families have made with respect to their children’s education,” the state’s lawyers have argued.Nearly 60 percent of the 2.8 million public school students in Florida have registered for in-person classes, state education officials say.850 WFTL wishes everyone success and safety during the new school year.