Interview with the MAN 175D Navy Expert Mr. Da Fieno

I’m Pierpaolo Da Fieno, Navy Application Engineer for the new MAN 175D high speed engine. Being born and raised by the sea, with a master degree in naval architecture and marine engineering and a 19-year-long service in the Italian Navy as Engineer Officer both aboard and ashore, I think that “Marine Expert” is a good description of me. Like every sailor, I enjoy working with new people, especially in multinational environments and intercultural relationships.


Tell us more about your sailing days.
Overall I spent almost 9 years aboard ships in active service, with long deployments in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Middle East. I was Chief Engineer of the first offshore patrol vessel ever sent to operate in the Persian Gulf and, for more than two years, I’ve been chief engineer of the aircraft carrier Garibaldi, leading an engineering department of more than 140 technicians and managing a propulsion plant exceeding 70 MW of power.


How important is the specific knowledge of navy applications for the development of a new engine?
Any ship can be considered a complex system made up of several interacting layers, each one integrating components and procedures to fulfil a wide range of different task. Even if this is true at a certain extent also for a freighter, for a naval vessel it reaches an extraordinary level of complexity, which requires formidable optimization of the single components and a thorough understanding of the working environment and boundaries. The extent of such a task is not limited to the pure hardware, as critical interactions, both internal and external to the ship, are coming from topics such as maintainability, operational availability, survivability, crew training, performance analysis, etc.


What is the role of high speed engines in modern navy applications?
In the last 15 years design of naval vessels went through a number of significant changes, with a huge number of requirements: crew reduction, cost effectiveness, extended service life, multipurpose capabilities, flexibility for constabulary and disaster relief roles, extended operational availability, environmental protection, etc. This established a trend for bigger platform but more compact plants, in order to provide the “room to grow” necessary to achieve flexibility. Propulsion and power generation plant were no exception, even if the overall demand of power had increased to comply with heavier ships, 21st century electronics and electric propulsion systems. This scenario clearly favors high speed engines, which can provide unprecedented weight-to-power and size-to-power ratio and reduced maintenance intervals, even allowing fast “pit-stop” replacement, naturally fitting the modular concept of new naval vessels. Moreover this is also the easiest and most effective solution when dealing with new emission requirements and the recent developments of the “green fleet”, especially in applications where gas engines are still not suitable due to safety factors.


According to your experience, what is the toughest challenge for a marine engine in a navy application?
Navy applications are challenging in several ways on different levels: extreme environment conditions, fast load response, extended low power operation, noise and vibration restrictions, shockproof installation, etc. Therefore reliability and robustness are always the first topics to be discussed. Anyway, even if they are critical, modern Navy applications require a more comprehensive approach, integrating the inner qualities of the engine with additional services. In real world naval operations, even when operating a robust and reliable engine, you still need access to spare parts, tools and technical knowledge in due time. Nowadays this means not only classic aftersales support but also innovative solutions, like online service, remote engineering support and condition monitoring. Engines are mission-critical components, thus a Chief Engineer does not need just an engine manufacturer, but a technical counterpart able to support the product worldwide effectively and timely. This is the inspiring concept at the base of the MAN 175D approach to navy applications.


Are you not missing living by the sea?
Even if the Bavarian landscape can be amazing, I admit that, after so many years, I cannot be indifferent to this point. Anyway, being such a navy enthusiast, I usually take some comfort with a walk through the very history of diesel engines in our MAN museum or a visit to the test-beds to experience once again the might of running hardware. If you have a background like mine, you know what I am talking about …


Thank you for your time and best wishes.