Bibby Marine Services has placed an order for a purpose-built walk-to-work vessel to serve exclusively in the offshore wind market in the North Sea.
The order was placed at Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards for construction at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania.
The new ship will be known as the Bibby WaveMaster 1, a Service Operations Vessel (SOV) measuring 90-meters in length with walk to work access and 60 accommodation berths - including 45 turbine maintenance personnel and 15 crew members. It is the first operations and maintenance vessel purpose-built for the transfer and accommodation of offshore wind project personnel in the North Sea.
"The aim is to enable offshore wind operators to work more efficiently, more safely and in maximum comfort, for periods of up to 30 days at a time," said Stephen Blaikie, Chief Executive Officer at Bibby Marine Services.
"The vessel is built on a stable DP-2 (Dynamic Positioning) platform so it offers very high operability. It will provide safe offshore transfers for personnel by way of a motion compensated access system (Walk to Work). Equipment will be securely transferred by way of the heave compensated offshore-rated knuckle boom crane. With technicians on standby in the field 24/7, wind farm operators can act immediately to rectify expensive outages, even in the toughest of weather conditions," Blaikie added.
For the design of the Bibby WaveMaster 1, Bibby Marine and Damen started from a blank slate as opposed to evolving an existing design. The result is a vessel completely suited for the unique tasks specific to the offshore wind market.
For example, the hull, at 90 meters, is longer than that of a conventional platform supply vessel and the bow section that is lowered by 1.5 meters. Damen explains that this creates a V-shape that reduces slamming and improved use of the bow thrusters.
The aft of the ship has also been adapted for stern-to-waves operation, a common maneuver when servicing offshore wind turbines.
"The most pronounced features that have been included are the strong V-shape in the frames in the aft ship to reduce the slamming occurrence and loads and the concentration of volume in the mid-ship region to achieve a slender aft ship," Damen said in a press release. "Both features should make stern to weather operations more comfortable than on a common PSV design."
The design includes a diesel-electric main propulsion system, powering twin azimuth thrusters. Also, a symmetrical wind profile and use of a four split main switchboard requires less installed power than a conventional PSV, according to Damen.
Along with safety and efficiency features, crew comfort is also paramount in the Bibby WaveMaster 1.
"The Comfort Class 2 standard accommodation comprises 60 individual ensuite berths, all of which are equipped with TV and Wi-Fi, and are complemented by class-leading leisure facilities," Bibby says.
Bibby explains that for additional comfort, the accommodation has been placed midships, reducing vertical acceleration by as much as 15%.
"As well as offering a high standard of living, the vessel hull form has been designed with comfort in mind, ensuring exceptional seakeeping abilities, and minimizing motion sickness to ensure technicians are fit for work," said Bibby.
Launch of the Bibby WaveMaster 1 is expected in mid-2017.
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