One of the world’s leading builders of mid-sized crewboats ensures its vessels can pamper and protect
Over the last decade, Singapore-based Penguin International has emerged as the global leader in the design and construction of mid-sized aluminium crewboats, with a strong presence in Southeast Asia and West Africa.
Among the top 10 builders of mid-sized aluminium crewboats, Penguin has delivered 120 of 207 vessels over the past 10 years, and a 44% marketshare of all the crewboats delivered worldwide, according to an analysis by Lim & Tan Securities.
Penguin builds its crewboats at its shipyards in Singapore and Batam, Indonesia, and charters crewboats in Singapore and Southeast Asia.
Those accustomed to flying in business class will appreciate Penguin’s newest model for its own chartering fleet, the Flex-42X executive fast crewboat.
The introduction of the Flex-42X comes at a time when crewboats are increasingly replacing helicopters in the offshore oil and gas sector as a primary mode of transport. “Although crewboats are slower than helicopters, they are much more economical to charter, and a mid-sized crewboat is able to transport significantly more personnel and cargo than an offshore helicopter,” say researchers at Lim & Tan Securities.
“The Flex-42X is a sensible alternative to helicopters,” Penguin International managing director James Tham tells Offshore Support Journal. He cites the vessel’s versatility, speed, cargo capacity and comfort as its biggest allure.
With a tagline “Speed and Comfort Reimagined”, Flex-42X was jointly developed by Penguin and its design partner, UK-based naval architect and marine engineering firm BMT. Drawing on its own experience as an owner-operator of mid-sized crewboats, Penguin wanted to develop a modern crewboat that could hit speeds of close to 30 knots while offering passengers a comfortable and quiet ride, and at the same time functioning efficiently as a multi-role crewboat with ample cargo capacity and external fire-fighting, search-and-rescue and medivac capabilities.
Alkahfi Chief, one its Flex-42X vessels, is equipped with Humphree active ride control, FuelTrax EFMS fuel monitoring and an Uptime walk-to-work gangway.
“We intentionally maximised the passenger deck area to optimise seating positions, while minimising the size of the wheelhouse to reduce weight and drag,” explains Mr Tham.
“This enabled us to configure the passenger saloon with two-by-two business class seats with a seat pitch of over 1,000 mm. No other mid-sized crewboat in the world has such as feature”, he says.
Currently, Penguin has seven Flex-42X’s on charter in Southeast Asia.
Security is key
West Africa’s offshore oil & gas sector is also a key market for Penguin, where it has delivered close to 60 Flex crewboats and Flex Fighters to Nigeria owners, according to Mr Tham. “The Flex Fighter is the industry’s only multi-role armoured security boat, based on Penguin’s proprietary and proven Flex crewboat design,” he explains.
West African waters are among the most dangerous for piracy and armed robbery, making security a primary concern for offshore oil and gas operators in Nigeria.
Customised to meet specific owner requirements, the current series of 40-m Flex Fighters typically comes with full armour cladding around the wheelhouse (including windows), one forward and two aft gun mounts with ballistic shields, FuelTrax electronic fuel management system, multiple closed circuit televisions, night-vision camera, a dedicated command room, 42 reclining seats for offshore workers, and “essential creature comforts for the security personnel and vessel crew”, says Mr Tham.
Speed is also crucial, says Mr Tham. Each Flex Fighter is equipped with three resiliently mounted Caterpillar C32 Acert main engines that drive three fixed-pitch propellers, enabling speeds of 28 knots.