Primarily intended for work as a service operation vessel in the offshore wind industry, Bibby Marine Services’ Bibby WaveMaster 1 is also well suited to work in the offshore oil and gas industry, as contracts already awarded to the vessel demonstrate
Designed by Damen and built by the Dutch group’s yard in Galaţi, Romania, Bibby WaveMaster 1 completed sea trials in the Black Sea earlier this year and set sail for the UK, where it began work on its first project, supporting offshore construction work on Innogy’s Galloper offshore windfarm off the east coast of England. The vessel was chartered by James Fisher for three months (plus options) of work related to the commissioning of the substation and turbines on the windfarm.
Having completed work on the Galloper windfarm, Bibby WaveMaster 1 will transition into the offshore oil and gas market early in 2018, having clinched a contract from energy group Total supporting gas platform work in the North Sea. Total’s Dutch exploration and production subsidiary has contracted Bibby WaveMaster 1 from April 2018 to October 2018 to provide accommodation for gas platform maintenance teams.
Bibby WaveMaster 1’s walk-to-work gangway will be used to connect the vessel with gas production facilities in the southern North Sea. In so doing, it will replace jack-up rigs that would usually have been used to provide accommodation for platform maintenance. The service operation vessel (SOV) can accommodate up to 90 workers and crew. The vessel has a height-adjustable walk-to-work gangway with a six-stop elevator for 100% stepless access. There is a helideck and daughter craft for various access and support functions.
As highlighted above, Bibby WaveMaster 1 was originally designed and built to support offshore renewables maintenance and construction support work, but the Total contract demonstrates its versatility for use in the offshore oil and gas sector.
Launched at Damen Shipyards Galaţi on 24 March 2017, Bibby WaveMaster 1 is an innovative design that has been customised in order to ensure that windfarm technicians – or oil and gas maintenance personnel – can directly access the ship’s gangway from the warehouse areas. The helideck, daughter craft and crew transfer vessel landings (with refuelling) complement the vessel’s versatility.
Peter Robert, director business development and market intelligence at Damen, explained that the focus of the design was on providing safe, comfortable access to far-from-shore windfarms including, in a worst-case scenario, severe central North Sea conditions. This resulted in a vessel capable of providing turbine access in up to 3.1 m significant wave height that is able to remain at sea for periods of up to one month at a time.
Although primarily designed with offshore wind in mind, the vessel is capable of a much wider scope of work in a variety of offshore industries. A range of options are available including an additional deck crane with up to a 24-tonne capacity, tanks arrangements suited to liquids such as glycols and low flashpoint liquids with separate delivery intakes and facilities for dive support and operations with remotely operated vehicles.
Bibby Marine Services Ltd chief executive Stephen Blaikie described Bibby WaveMaster 1 as a “custom-designed service operation vessel with walk-to-work access and 60 high-quality accommodation berths”. He said the company’s aim was 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.
“The vessel is built on a stable DP2 platform so it offers a very high level of operability,” said Mr Blaikie. “It will provide safe offshore transfers for personnel by way of a motion compensated access system. Equipment will be securely transferred by way of a heave compensated offshore-rated knuckleboom crane,” he said.
Mr Blaikie said working efficiency is one of the key drivers behind the design of the vessel. The space inside has been carefully planned in terms of storage, workflow and logistics to ensure that the movement of both people and goods is smartly optimised, and the ship will also be as ‘green’ as possible, with minimal emissions and low fuel consumption.
Comfort is also paramount, and the vessel will have Comfort Class 2 standard accommodation with all of the 60 en-suite berths equipped with TV, wifi and leisure facilities. As well as offering a high standard of living, the vessel hullform has been designed with comfort in mind, ensuring exceptional seakeeping abilities and minimising motion sickness to ensure technicians are fit for work.
Mr Robert describes the new unit as “much more than just a vessel”. He sees it as a “total access and accommodation solution”. He highlighted the fact that the development of the design “started with a blank sheet of paper, as opposed to being an evolved version of an existing design”. It has been tailored specifically to the needs of the offshore wind industry and designed specifically for the conditions it will encounter in the North Sea, he said.
“Its length, breadth and draught all reflect the metocean data we have studied in the area that it is likely to encounter in UK Round 3 projects,” he explained. “At 90 m, the hull is longer than that of a conventional platform supply vessel (PSV) as used in the offshore oil and gas sector, from which some SOV designs are derived, and the bow section has been lowered by 1.5 m to create a V shape.
“This feature offers significantly reduced slamming and facilitates inclusion and improved offshore operation of the bow thrusters. The aft ship has been adapted specifically to the tasks that the vessel is designed for, including stern to waves operation.”
The most pronounced features that have been included are the strong V shape in the frames in the aft ship to reduce slamming and the concentration of volume in the mid-ship region to achieve a slender aft ship. Mr Robert says both features should make stern-to-weather operations more comfortable than on a vessel derived from a conventional PSV design.
As Mr Robert also explained, ergonomic design sees the interior spaces grouped together into similar task areas. This not only separates ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ tasks but ensures short lines of communication and eases workflow. The accommodation has been placed in the midships area for additional comfort – the location reducing vertical acceleration by as much as 15%.