Each OSV fleet needs a bespoke solution for proper oversight, utilising digitalisation to provide transparency in terms of opex, maintenance and environmental performance
Only about 6% of the global fleet of offshore vessels is outsourced to a third-party manager. By contrast, about 15% of the global oceangoing fleet is under third-party management. If an offshore vessel owner was looking to outsource their fleet, how and why would they go about doing so?
“Typically, it will come down to cost,” V.Group offshore ship management managing director Harry Knox says. Explains Mr Knox, OSV owners have their own onshore personnel to manage their fleets; if a third-party such as V.Group provides their ship management solution, owners can reduce their internal administration costs. Using its economies of scale, V.Group is able to “spread the cost around,” says Mr Knox.
Once an owner has made the decision to transfer its tonnage to V.Group management, Mr Knox explains that a dedicated team begins mapping out the requirements of the fleet, examining crew and maintenance requirements, while discussing with the owner where they would like their resources based.
“One of the beauties of offshore is that it is not just one type of vessel,” says Mr Knox. “The range of vessels is very diverse. That’s why it is difficult to take a ‘one-solution-fits-all’ approach to managing a fleet. We look at the fleet ship-by-ship, then build a bespoke ship management model based on the specific types of vessels that are in the fleet.”
Take for an example an owner with a fleet of four platform supply vessels (PSVs), says Mr Knox: “Based on our experience and the way we operate ships, those four vessels might be overseen by one superintendent. However, one superintendent might be required for a single dive support vessel (DSV), depending on its complexity.”
Ship management becomes even more complex if a fleet consists of a diverse mix of ships – construction support vessels, DSVs, PSVs, anchor handlers etc – observes Mr Knox. “You really need to go into the fine detail that makes up the fleet. Once this detail has been defined,” Mr Knox says, “you can formulate the amount of resources you need to properly manage the fleet.”
In the current competitive climate, OSV owners are under increasing pressure to reduce opex costs, cut emissions and provide more transparency to charterers. This has led to increasing digitalisation in the offshore sector.
“Environmental performance is what everyone is looking for in the future,” notes Mr Knox.
Through the ShipSure solution, he says, V.Group can provide owners with complete visibility in vessel routing, vessel speed and weather conditions. “It allows owners to be more proactive in their approach,” he adds.
Developed in house, the ShipSure platform collects fleet data and presents it in a user-friendly format in real time, allowing owners to see the performance of the various ships in their fleet. ShipSure is installed in about 1,800 oceangoing and offshore vessels. “It flags up problems with any ships, presenting the data in a very easy-to-read visible dashboard,” says Mr Knox.
“Environmental performance is what everyone is looking for”
“If an owner is worried about the maintenance of safety-critical items, they can go into the system and check it themselves to make sure that it is being done to the safety standard they require. It provides full transparency and full visibility over our performance. It also allows us to drill down into safety performance, allowing us to act upon any issues quickly,” he says.
Data from the platform allows V.Group to model the opex of a vessel and benchmark it on the basis of cost and safety. The system can provide trend analysis, detecting problems with certain types of equipment on a vessel or across a fleet. This information can be used not only to benefit the owner, but also to support the equipment supplier where a potential problem emerges.
The system also allows V.Group to provide consultancy services to owners and financial institutions regarding projected opex for a vessel.
Crew change crisis
During the current pandemic the crew change crisis has tested the resiliency of hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded onboard vessels for months beyond their original contracts.
IMO estimate some 400,000 seafarers have been trapped on ships, continuing to work but unable to be relieved because of travel restrictions and limited air connections to seaports. Another 400,000 seafarers have been trapped onshore, unable to join ships. This humanitarian crisis has put a physical and emotional strain on seafarers, posing a threat to safety, IMO Secretary Kim Lim said recently during an online event.
“Overly fatigued and mentally exhausted seafarers are being asked to continue to operate ships,” Mr Lim said. He added: “Ship safety is hanging in the balance, just as seafarers’ lives are being made impossible. The safety of navigation is in peril.”
Regarding Covid-19 and crew changes, Mr Knox says: “The biggest challenge is that the rules continually change within the jurisdictions on short notice. It could be that you plan the change, everything is going ahead as normal, but then the vessel arrives two days later and the local government has changed all the requirements.”
He adds: “V.Group has been one of the biggest champions of seafarers. We see crew as the most important part of the organisation.”
Ship management deals for Vestland Offshore
Norway’s Vestland Offshore now manages a fleet of 15 vessels, after signing two ship management deals in October.
The Bergen-based ship manager added its second vessel in the offshore wind sector, with management of the service operation vessel (SOV) Norside Supporter. Vestland Offshore reported the SOV would be outfitted with a walk-to-work solution at the Fjellstrand shipyard.
Owned by Norside Wind AS and built in 2014, the dynamic positioning (DP) class-2-capable Norside Supporter has an overall length of 89.85 m, beam of 16.5 m, with accommodation for 93.
The other contract was with subsea services provider DeepOcean for the inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) vessel DeepVision
A flexible subsea IMR and survey vessel, DeepVision is equipped with a Kongsberg Simrad SDP-21 DP class 2 (DP 2) system and three remotely operated vehicle (ROV) systems: one observation-class unit and two work-class units housed in hangars, with a LARS handling system. Combined with the large deck area of 720 m2 and the 60-tonne active heave-compensated crane, this makes the vessel a versatile workstation for IMR, survey and construction support operations.
Based on a UT 745 design and built by Havyard Lervik AS in 2002, DeepVision has an overall length of 85.25 m, beam of 18.8 m, draught of 3.8 m, with accommodation for 70 in 14 single and 28 double cabins.
DeepVision’s accommodation and superstructure capacity was increased and ROV hangars were incorporated into the superstructure during a rebuild in 2012.
With a service speed of 13 knots, the IMR vessel’s propulsion system incorporates two 3,500-mm diameter propellers, with two 883-kW KaMeWa Ulstein Super Silent thrusters forward and two KaMeWa Ulstein 588-kW thrusters aft. Manoeuvrability is aided by Ulstein high-lift flap rudders.