Maersk Supply Service’s (MSS) newbuilding anchor handler vessel Maersk Master took home the Offshore Support Journal award for vessel of the year at the 2018 Offshore Support Journal Conference & Awards industry gala in London.
Industry voting determined the winners, and the award was collected by Maersk Supply Service chief of operations Claus Bachmann, Maersk Supply Service chief technical officer Peter Kragh Jacobsen, Salt Ship Design sales director Tor Henning Vestbøstad and Kjersti Kleven, co-owner and chair of the board of the Norwegian shipbuilding group Kleven Verft Maritime AS.
Mr Jacobsen, who represented Maersk Supply Service’s interests for the shipbuilding project said he was happy with the final product – the first of six planned Starfish-class anchor handlers ordered by the company nearly four years prior – that was delivered in 2017.
“From the very beginning, we were very clear on our objectives and our vision: we wanted to build the best ship in the industry,” he said.
“It had to be energy-efficient, it had to be versatile, and it had to be able to be deployed all over the globe. Furthermore, it would have to offer exclusive comfort to everyone on board, clients as well as crew. And, in short, I can say we got what we opted for.”
Built for deepwater operations, the Starfish vessels are 95 m long, with a beam of 25 m and are equipped with a raft of innovative features including an anchor-recovery frame that simplifies operations over the stern roller and a remotely operated deck-handling gantry crane.
Unlike existing anchor-handling frames, which have a 90° operating angle, the Rolls-Royce-built equipment on board Maersk Master and other Starfish-class vessels can be operated at a 126° angle to the deck by way of two hydraulic cylinders and a 1.68 m-diameter, free-rotating roller.
Capable of operation in temperatures ranging from -20°C to 45°C, the 8.84 m wide, 7.99 m high recovery frame has a nominal towline tension capacity of 200 tonnes with a lateral force of 50 tonnes.
The dynamic positioning class 2 vessel has an open deck area of more than 800 m² with an additional 102 m² of covered deck area and comes equipped with a 450-tonne anchor handling winch.
Powered by five medium-speed engines with a total output of more than 23,000 bhp, the Starfish-class vessels have a fuel-efficient and flexible hybrid propulsion system and fixed-pitch thrusters, a combination of features that are expected to provide high reliability, good fuel economy, low emissions and excellent stationkeeping capabilities.
The company signed a newbuilding contract for six of the Starfish-class ships with Kleven Maritime in Norway in 2014, just before a steep decline in oil prices. The downturn in the industry means Maersk does not need all of its high-spec anchor handlers as quickly as it had originally planned.
Mr Jacobsen alluded to the market downturn in his speech.
“In the first Starfish-series vessels, we have got a unique vessel. Next time, however, we should factor in the decline in the industry … maybe we should factor that in the contracts for the next series of vessels,” Mr Jacobsen said.
Although the first two of the new class of anchor handlers, Maersk Master and Maersk Mariner, quickly found work, other owners chose to postpone delivery of their sister vessels.
In response, Maersk Supply Service reached agreements with Kleven shipyard to delay the build schedule on the remaining new vessels.
Under the revised agreement, the as-yet unfinished Starfish anchor handlers will be delivered in 2018 and the beginning of 2019.
“I’m often asked about where this Starfish name comes from. For us, the star symbolises quality and, of course, it is a main factor in the Maersk logo, but it is also a fish, and a fish is flexible, agile and alert, and that is just what these vessels are,” he said.
And just what Maersk Supply has been forced to be during a tough market.
MSS chief executive Mr Bachmann thanked voters and wound up the speeches on a positive note.
“Maersk Master has already seen work from the North Sea to the Indian Ocean in different operations,” he said, “and we hope for her to have a safe and prosperous journey, adding value to our customers, the industry, and Maersk Supply Services for many years to come.”
Mr Bachmann said MSS was particularly proud to win the award two years in a row. Cable-laying vessel Maersk Connector took home the prize in 2017.
Maersk Master has a deadweight of 4,500 tonnes, accommodation for 52 people and is equipped with a work-class remotely operated vehicle in a hangar. The vessel has FiFi 1, Ice 1A classification and has oil recovery capabilities.