Ship block in fiber-reinforced polymer demonstrated in France

Ship block in fiber-reinforced polymer demonstrated in France

The FIBRESHIP project presented a demo version: a section of the hull of a 20-tonne oceanographic vessel built in fiber-reinforced polymer.

The iXblue shipyard in Marseille has seen a ship block made entirely of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP). The demonstration was kind of a progress report within the international project FIBRESHIP.

The ship block of approximately 11 x 11 x 8.6 meters and 20 tons is a section of a fishing research vessel. To build the block, the researchers used different sorts of fibers depending on the structural elements in question. 

In such a way, they verified the results of the studies and prepared the site for further investigations to confirm the feasibility of FIBRESHIP project.


The works started in the end of 2018. The demonstrator combined the result of several studies and experimental tests, with different types of resins and fibers to find the most suitable materials for high-performance compositions.

The ambitious FIBRESHIP project was launched in 2017 as a set of decisive measures to initiate replacement of steel structural elements in vessels longer than 50 meters with FRP. The consortium of the project consists of 18 entities from 11 European countries.

The main objective of the FIBRESHIP project is to generate the regulatory framework for designing and building of large-length ships in FRP materials reinforced with different fibers including basalt.

Fiber-reinforced polymers applied in the shipbuilding would imply a significant weight reduction (about 30%) and a relevant impact in fuel saving by 10-15%, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and underwater noise, and increase of cargo capacity by about 12%.

Moreover, FRP materials are immune to corrosion and have a better performance under fatigue type loads, what means better life performance and reduced maintenance costs. The project should estimate the performance focusing on three vessels categories: lightweight commercial vessels; passenger transportation and leisure; and, special services.

FIBRESHIP objectives and concept

The project is financed by European Union: € 9 million were allocated within the Horizon 2020 research program of the total € 11 million of the expected cost.


During the project, a methodology of material selection was developed. They also carried out the verification of mechanical properties, simulations of fatigue behavior and small-scale fire tests of the proposed materials.

In parallel, high-precision calculation software has been designed for this work to aid the structural design, taking into account different force effects, both static and dynamic.

This demonstrator has not only been able to establish the technical feasibility of the project, but also the economic feasibility through the development of real methodologies of industrial shipbuilding using fiber reinforced polymers.


Specific regulations are being drafted at the same time by the most prestigious European classification societies (BV, LR and RINA), also members of the consortium, with the intention of developing future specific regulations of the using of composites in large-length vessels.

FIBRESHIP is scheduled to end in 2020 by filling in technological gaps. The project is supposed to develop guidelines to enable complete engineering design, building and certification of FRP vessels. Based on them, the regulatory framework for industrial production will be developed.

China is trying to keep up with composites in marine applications. Last year, during the Yantai marine economic forum the plans to widely use basalt fiber were announced.


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