Laying plans – Looking ahead to the cable laying vessels of tomorrow

With the many offshore wind farm construction projects currently taking place or planned for the future, there is going to be a considerable amount of cable laying activity in the coming years. At this time, Damen Shipyards Group is taking a concerted look ahead in a bid to develop relevant, reliable solutions that will support these projects.

A decade of experience
The company’s activity in the cable laying sector began around twelve years ago with its development of the Damen Offshore Carrier (DOC). This versatile vessel brought increased efficiency to offshore transportation by combining the tug and pontoon conventionally used in a single vessel.

The DOC offered the flexibility to perform a wide range of tasks offshore – one of which was cable laying. There followed, in quick succession, two iconic cable laying vessels; Van Oord’s Nexus and Maersk Supply Services’ Maersk Connector.

Developing the transition
Now, with a number of developments taking place in the offshore wind segment, Damen is working on the creation of a new generation of solutions fit to support the ongoing offshore energy transition.

“This is an interesting market,” says DOC Product Specialist and Naval Architect Rolf Sluman. “It offers a lot of opportunity for the future. There are, though, a number of challenges that need to be addressed first.”

One of these is the increasing distance from shore at which offshore wind farms are planned. This will see the sector increasingly turn from the conventional AC cables to high power DC cables. This will require the cable laying vessel to feature multiple cable storage areas for both AC and DC cables.

Flexible solutions
“The concept we have in mind is based on three breadth versions, each comprising three length variations covering a cable payload of between approximately 5,000 and 12,000 tonnes. The aim is to provide a flexible solution that can be adapted to specific client wishes, for example, offering double carousels – above and below deck and multiple cable cores.”

A further challenge are the increasing calls for sustainability in the sector. Damen, which has the goal to become the most sustainable maritime solutions provider, has already had extensive experience in greening its vessels, including the development of a fully electric Service Operations Vessel with offshore charging capabilities.

The shipbuilder is putting this experience to use in the development of its next generation cable layers, which will feature a range of emissions-reducing technology, including an extended hybrid system by means of hybrid battery packages.

Growing scope
Since the delivery of its first cable laying vessels, Damen has also increased its own scope of work.

“We try to add as much value for our clients as possible. In recent years we’ve moved beyond the role of shipbuilder into that of total solutions provider, offering a range of support services throughout the lifecycle of the vessel. This is extremely wide ranging and begins even before the vessel has been ordered. This includes providing support to the client to gain an understanding of the their needs so that we can design a vessel suited to them. It also covers everything from financing to maintenance. Also, whereas, for the first cable layers we delivered, we delivered only the vessel, we can now deliver a turnkey solution, including mission equipment.”

This scope is clearly visible in the projects that Damen has been working on most recently for the cable lay sector – a CLV 1000 export cable lay vessel, CLV 5000 cable connection and inter-array vessel, and a CLV 8000 inter-array cable lay vessel, each of which featured mission equipment fully integrated as part of Damen’s scope.

Much to offer
“We feel we have much to offer this market, based on our building capabilities and facilities. Our approach combines all elements of the process – R&D, design capacity, in-house engineering, construction locations around the world, which helps ensure the cost effectiveness of the vessel – and even the option to build a Damen cable laying vessel at a yard of your choice anywhere in the world. Perhaps most importantly, however, is the flexibility we offer. In the development of our cable laying vessels for the future we are looking to work closely together with our co-makers and suppliers, our clients and their clients, to ensure that the designs we develop are the vessels the market is going to need in the coming years.”

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