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Movement between markets creates repair work on offshore vessels

Mon 03 Jul 2017

Movement between markets creates repair work on offshore vessels
Gibdock added new plating to the bridge and main deck of Normand Reach

Gibdock recently completed hull cleaning and bridge strengthening work on Solstad’s Normand Reach, prior to the vessel transiting to Australia

by Martyn Wingrove

Offshore support vessels transitioning from one market to another need modifications and hull cleaning as a minimum. Different regional conditions can generate requirements for repair work. Whether it is vessels leaving the North Sea for new ventures, or ships transferring from Asia to the Middle East or West Africa, there are requirements for modifications and refurbishment.

One recent example was a Solstad Offshore vessel, which was transferred from the North Sea to Australia. On its way, 121m Normand Reach visited Gibraltar-based shipyard Gibdock for specific project work. The Solstad construction support vessel was contracted to commence a term charter on the Ichthys gas field development project in the Timor Sea.

This meant Normand Reach needed to meet the strict hull cleanliness standards of Australia’s National Biofouling Management Guidelines for commercial vessels. This meant the 2014-built, subsea construction support vessel required a special wash and brush job before it arrived to commence operations in Western Australia. It also needed specific bridge strengthening work. This included fabrication work including new plating installed to reinforce the vessel’s bridge and main deck protection against the threat of piracy.

During an 11-day period, Gibdock provided Normand Reach hull-washing, grit blasting and an antifouling coating before it continued on its route to Australia, via the Suez Canal.

Solstad’s technical manager Conrad Melhus said the shipyard’s location and the company’s positive experience on previous jobs were reasons for choosing Gibraltar for repairs. He said a significant amount of hull cleaning and paintwork were needed before entering service in Australia.

The hull cleaning work had to meet strict Australian anti-invasive species guidelines. This included: hull-cleaning work; rudder hinge; sea chest bilge; bow thruster; and associated grates.

Gibdock ship manager Filip Tsankov explained the intricacies involved in meeting these demands: “The internal surfaces of sea chests, for example need to be painted with antifouling coatings that are suitable for the flow conditions of seawater through the chest.”  

He added: “These standards demand deep cleaning and close attention to detail.” Gibdock has performed hull cleaning work in line with Australian expectations on several occasions, he added.

Gibdock’s managing director Richard Beards said he sees the project as evidence that there has been an uptick in the offshore vessel repair market. The yard was working on two other offshore support vessels during May.

In Norway, Westcon Yard Florø has been working on DOF’s 2012-built subsea support vessel Skandi Darwin. The work involved installation of new steel modules, electrical equipment, pipework and ventilation. Westcon also installed new offices and cabins to refurbish the accommodation block.

The shipyard also built a new hanger for remotely operated vehicles, installed new offshore cranes and lifeboats. The new pipework is for the fuel and lubrication systems and for an updated firefighting unit. There was also new pipework for the freshwater and seawater systems.

Local businesses were required to supply the additional equipment and Skandi Darwin was due to be completed before the end of June this year. As of 21 June, the vessel was still under repair at the shipyard.

In the Netherlands, Damen Shipyards Group has agreed to acquire Keppel Verolme shipyard in Rotterdam from Keppel Offshore & Marine to strengthen its repair and conversion capabilities.

The Verolme yard in the Botlek area of the Port of Rotterdam has 60 years of experience in conversion and repair of large offshore construction and support vessels, drilling rigs and oil production ships.