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How to stretch a ship - Enchantment of the Seas

It sounds like a title for a show of David Copperfield, David Blaine or Criss Angel. But it isn't.
It's the latest practice that big shipping companies do to their fleets. Why build a new ship, when you can extend the old one.
Such measures may seem extreme, but the €40 million cost of the job is just a fraction of the €650 million - and years of labour - needed to launch a new ship.

In 2005 Enchantment of the Seas was the third Royal Caribbean ship to be lengthened to increase her capacity and facilities. After she was cut in half, a new, 22 meter middle section containing 151 staterooms and suspension bridges that span the pool area and overhang the sea were added. Not only was the pool area expanded by almost 50%, four bungee trampolines were installed -- a first at sea. For real thrills you can soar high above the bow while safely tethered to the trampoline.

And this is how they did that.
The painstaking process took place in a dry dock at the Keppel Verolme shipyard in Rotterdam, Holland.

2,666-ton mid section was built in Finland at the Aker Finnyards over a seven month period that began last September. When the midbody section was completed this April, it was welded with steel beams to the deck of the barge carrying it on a 2,300 km journey on the Baltic and North seas to the Keppel Verolme dockyard in Rotterdam where the Enchantment was in dry-dock for the refit.

How to stretch a ship - Enchantment of the Seas #1

Upon arrival at the Rotterdam dry dock, a major hurdle was the positioning of the midsection as close as possible to the area of the ship where it would be inserted. With the use of a computer generated model and laser-measurement equipment, workmen were able to place the midsection little more than an inch from where it would be inserted. The dock area was then pumped dry and hydraulic towers secured the midsection. During the insertion process, most of the ship would rest on concrete blocks.

How to stretch a ship - Enchantment of the Seas #2

With 16 men on each eight-hour shift working round the clock, it took six days to split the ship, cutting through more than 600 linear meters of steel with gas and oxygen torches and circular saws as well as severing more than 1.100 cables, 120 pipes and 60 air ducts.
The cut was made 130 meters from the ship’s bow, leaving the yard with a foreship section weighing 11,315 tons that had to be moved forward to accommodate the midbody.

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How to stretch a ship - Enchantment of the Seas #3

Once the ship was split in half, the new 12-deck high, 3,000-ton mid-section was carefully moved into place with hydraulic jacks and 18-wheel lorries, and the new midsection— measuring 22 meters long, 32 meters wide, 44 meters high and weighing 2,939 tons—was guided into place by a laser-alignment system.
The 11,315-ton bow section slid first. Then the midbody was moved into alignment and pushed back to touch the ship’s aft section. After that, the bow section was moved back into place. Finally the workmen rewelded the ship together, a job that took 15 days weeks and involved the attachment of nearly 1,300 individual cables, pipes and ducts on each end of the new midbody.

How to stretch a ship - Enchantment of the Seas #4

With the use of the innovative new procedure, the entire lengthening process was completed in only 31 days.

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How to stretch a ship - Enchantment of the Seas #5

Within six weeks, the Enchantment of the Seas was back in service again. It is currently in the western Caribbean after setting sail from Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
And the extra capacity - which came on top of the 3,000 passengers and crew it could previously hold - is certainly needed.
A spokesman for Royal Caribbean, which owns the ship, said: 'We've committed ourselves to providing innovative, exciting and unexpected experiences for our guests.
'We are willing to stretch ourselves and our ships - literally - to fulfil that promise.'

If you want to travel with this ship, and other like Enchantment of the Seas, visit Royal Caribbean site.

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