They pretty much leapt from just 50,000 tonnes to half a million tonnes in 16 years! Steel plate thickness increased from 15 mm to 35 mm. I think this scared the hell out of designers and university researchers. There was a tremendous technical drive to address this development.”

Do Ligtelijn agrees. Do spent his early career with propeller company Lips and he then joined MARIN in late 1978. He was a member of the CRS community on behalf of Lips in 1977 and 1978, and continued this on behalf of MARIN from 1979 to 1997. Do specialised in cavitation and related topics, and moved back to Lips (taken over by Wärtsilä in 2002) from 1998 until 2013, re-joining CRS from 2005 on. After his early retirement from Wärtsilä he became a part-time consultant on propellers and cavitation at MARIN, and officially retired in August last year.

“When looking back, like Jan said, it took indeed around a decade for the size of the ships to increase from 100,000 tonnes to 500,000 tonnes, when Chantiers, Kockums and other yards (for instance some of the major Japanese yards) started building super tankers. But of course, this fast increase in size was not only a yard issue: also Class had never seen anything like it, and had to develop rules for such ships.”

Marinus points to a congress in the Netherlands at the time, which examined whether 200,000-tonne tankers could enter the access channel of the port of Rotterdam in only a 72-foot depth. “There was a lot of speculation that we would need a 1 million- tonne dock (which was actually built in Rotterdam later on by Verolme shipyards), but ultimately, the tankers never grew beyond 500,000 tonnes.” However, these types of issues were very much the topics of the day, Jan says. And it is understandable how CRS started to develop around the topic of large tankers, given this revolution taking place in the industry, they add.

And this development was reflected in the membership. Marinus points out that there

Blueprint of CRS: communication scheme of Large Tankers project (1971) report 5

has been a significant change over the decades. Of the 14 organisations that were members in the first decade, nine were shipyards. Do adds: “When I joined in 1977, CRS members were either the builders of large tankers in Japan and Europe, the owners or the classification societies which had to deal with these tankers.”

New developments – new members These days there are 23 members and the Group is much more diverse, and includes research institutes, classification societies, suppliers, yards, model basins and navies.

However it still retains the original spirit, Jan emphasises. “There are no real ‘laws’ in CRS. We are pretty much a lawless bunch,” he laughs. CRS is not a regulatory or an advisory body. Do emphasises: “There is no bureaucracy or management layers - people remain members because CRS delivers results, and they can use them in their day-to-day business.”

Ed van Daalen, the current CRS Secretary, says: “All the results of the research goes to members only and then it is up to them how the information is disseminated.

Results are confidential and the property of the members.”

And although it is half a century old, CRS still retains much of the original structure. The annual membership fee is 65,000 Euros. New members pay an entrance fee of 32,500 Euros and this gives them access to all the results of the current projects and their findings. In early June, CRS has its Open Meeting, whereby members discuss ideas for new projects. Then at the end of year the Annual General Meeting is held and the members decide which ideas they want to take on as research projects and how much funding they will get. Working groups take the projects forward. Members all benefit from the annual, 1.5 million Euro budget, and this leverage is especially important in a world where R&D departments are often shrinking.

Although over the five decades the membership numbers have remained relatively stable, there has been quite some change in the subjects being addressed.

Do summarises: “Until 1985, CRS mostly focused on large ships, whether this

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