Having turned its back on newbuilds, Denmark’s Orskov Yard is taking on bigger repair and conversion jobs with a new floating dock
When Frederikshavn-based Orskov Yard’s latest investment, a 180-m long floating dock becomes operational in early 2021, it will represent a landmark for Denmark as well as for this highly versatile specialist in repair and conversion.
“As far as I know, it has been more than 40 years since a new floating dock has been delivered to a Danish yard,” chief executive Lars Fischer tells Passenger Ship Technology. The fourth of Orskov’s docks, it will increase the yard’s capacity by 25-30% and, he adds, enable the group to take on bigger work such as tankers, offshore support vessels, fishing vessels and expedition cruise ships. In fact, most ships with a big draft.
“During a normal year, we see a number of tankers and expedition cruise ships at our yard and the new dock will allow us to increase the presence of these two segments,” he says.
It is usually the newbuilds that grab the headlines but Orskov has not built a new ship for nearly 20 years, preferring to concentrate on the bread-and-butter but vital work of upgrades, maintenance and conversions. And there is plenty of it – Orskov has an orderbook that will keep the yard busy for the next six months. New orders arrive all the time for a yard that can work 365 days a year around the clock.
“About 100 vessels a year visit our yard for short or long stays, with a large variety of job scopes. [We do] everything from emergency dockings, class surveys, installation of new equipment and major conversions,” Mr Fischer explains. “Typical vessels are offshore support ships, ferries, fishing vessels, tankers and navy vessels.”
The Danish Navy is a valued customer. Recently, Orskov undertook some major conversion projects including new helicopter hangars, a reinforced helicopter deck, maintenance on four inspection vessels that will extend their working life, and installation of new water-lubricated stern tube systems on a support vessel and a frigate.
Nothing if not versatile, currently Orskov is converting a large krill vessel to a pelagic trawler with fish pumps, RSW tanks, plate freezers and cargo holds as well as conducting renovations on Povl Anker, a 121-m long roro ferry owned and operated by Molslinjen on the Baltic Sea since 1978. The 42-year-old ferry will go back to work with new auxiliary engines, a heat recovery system and a total repaint as part of an extensive makeover. Another passenger vessel that got the Orskov treatment was National Geographic Explorer with a complete overhaul of thrusters, engines, stabilisers and propellers, new freshwater pipes and upgraded accommodation, plus general class-related work.
Simultaneously, Orskov is performing regular five-year class surveys of a wide range of vessels, operations that often include installing ballast water treatment systems.
The yard’s wide range of activities fits neatly with the chief executive’s experience. Appointed to the top job five years ago, he is a naval architect by training who worked for 15 years with MAN on propulsion systems and then for seven years with Wärtsilä as head of a business unit supplying pumping equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry.
Interestingly for a yard that built more than 200 ships in its 60-year history, Orskov abandoned newbuilds around the start of the millennium and made a strategic decision to focus purely on repair and conversion. It has turned out to be an astute strategy.
“This activity has grown over the years to where we are today with a set-up dedicated 100% to the service business,” Mr Fischer says. “It is difficult to combine the repair and newbuild activity, so now there will be no further newbuilds from Orskov Yard. In fact [we will] increase our focus on repair and conversion.”
Hence the new floating dock and other investments in equipment including a mobile 1,200 kVA shore-based power unit and the latest in ultra-high-pressure water-blasting technology. Delivered by Premator, Orskov’s supplier for surface treatment, this is an extremely valuable tool in repair and conversion.
With blasting pressure up to 3,200 bar delivered by an arm that can reach as high as 32 m from the dock floor as well as by robots, crawlers and hand-held units, the technology makes short work of hull treatment. “We can blast over 200 m2 an hour,” enthuses Mr Fischer. “And since the method is dust-free, it does not interfere with other dock work so it can be performed at the same time.”
The water blaster’s power is formidable. It not only strips away old coatings and rust but also removes deeply embedded crystallised salt, reducing the damaging chloride levels on the surface. As the technology becomes more widely adopted, coating manufacturers have recognised its usefulness by developing surface-tolerant primers and paints that will adhere to water-blasted surfaces.
So far, Orskov has navigated the pandemic as well as can be expected. When orders were cancelled or postponed at the end of March during the first wave of lockdowns, the yard was forced to send 40% of the workforce home – but not for long. A run of new work began arriving in April and within just six weeks the yard was back to full steam ahead. “Since mid-May the workload has increased further and we have been very busy the last couple of months,” Mr Fischer reports.
But back to those all-important docks. Orskov’s current three docks range from 115-m long to 215-m long. So why a new one? With a length of 180 m, a width of 30 m, a draft of 8.5 m above keel blocks, and a lifting capacity of 10,000 tonnes, it will make the yard even more versatile. “It will have the largest draft of all our docks, making it well-suited for large fishing vessels and offshore support vessels,” he says.
Repair and conversion may not be glamorous, but it keeps ships at sea.
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