The Next Generation of Offshore Crew Change
New modes of fast, reliable and fuel efficient transport for offshore crew and provisions promise to boost offshore energy operations. Vessels that sail at high speed even in the roughest conditions and that are able to provide safe and easy transfer from ship to offshore stations offer crew welfare at increased passenger capacity with a comfortable ride.
The range of Fast Crew Suppliers (FCS) from Damen Shipyards offers crew transfer vessels that are able to sail at speeds up to 40 knots and conquer waves at significant wave heights up to 3 meters, typically the North Sea conditions at the more windy days. It is the Axe Bow that enables the largest crew supply vessel to date, the FCS 7011, to power up the waterjets to reach such impressive speed in waves. Likewise, the twin axe bow design of the FCS2710 ensures seaworthiness at speed in rough conditions. Both vessels are purpose designed to offer very comfortable crew transport at impressively modest fuel consumption and emissions.
Proof of concept
By the end of March 2022, the all new FCS7011 ‘Aqua Helix’ completed the first actual transfer of offshore crew to an offshore substation in the North Sea. The final testing to demonstrate the proof of concept of the 120 passenger vessel follows extensive sea trials and testing of the onboard Ampelmann stabilized gangway. The fast monohull FCS7011 (length over all = 73.6 meters, beam = 11.2 meters) is built in aluminium. The weight reduction achieved by choosing this lightweight metal makes it possible to sail at the high speed required with acceptable fuel consumption.
The axe bow greatly reduces slamming and pitching. The slender hull tends to roll when the boat is stopped or sails slowly. The biggest gyro stabilizer in the world reduces rolling at zero speed down to 10 per cent of the motions that would occur without stabilization. When the FCS7011 positions itself along a platform or station at sea where the transported offshore workers need to step on to, the Ampelmann gangway can swing out over a 180 degree scope. This allows the vessel to position itself with a favorable heading regarding the incoming wind and waves. The gangway extends to a length of 26 meter. Gyroscope-fed computer technology enables the Ampelmann S-type stabilized gangway to be completely motionless in front of the platform balcony, so the offshore workers can step over with great ease, even in harsh and remote offshore locations.
Major offshore energy players like Shell and Exxon provided input that inspired Damen engineers to develop the FCS7011. Damen and Ampelmann join forces to operate this game changer in offshore crew transport in-house. The passenger capacity of 120 persons is bigger than the typical crew change at North Sea platforms. Thanks to its speed and big capacity, ‘Aqua Helix’ can make a tour along multiple platforms for crew changes and still offer competitive transfer time and comfort as compared to helicopters. Larger numbers of crew within one transfer are often at stations off the Western African coast, Australia, Guyana and Brazil in South America and the Gulf of Mexico, where offshore platforms are often further off the coast. The FCS7011 is ideally suited to bring these larger numbers of energy professionals to their working stations and back to shore.
Keen industry appeal is invoked by the twin axe bow FCS2710, a catamaran that offers capabilities that fit offshore supply at a bit smaller scale. In particular, the offshore wind industry embraces the possibilities offered by this vessel. Also on this vessel, the axe bow design enables fast sailing on rough seas. As any catamaran, the hull offers good stability. In their commitment towards sustainability, in line with the objectives of the global offshore wind domain, Damen Shipyards have developed next to the fuel efficient diesel powered FCS2710, the FCS2710 Hybrid. (26.8 meters length over all, 10.5 m. beam) The vessel can take 26 passengers, offers additional 90 square meters of deck area and can reach speeds up to 25 knots. A 232 kWh battery pack allows sailing with zero emissions in port and within the offshore wind farm.
The generators and main engines are quite fuel efficient even without the electric support and all comply to IMO tier III emission standards. While a fleet of FCS2710’s is already in operation, Damen Shipyards have started construction of three more of these hybrid vessels at the Damen Antalya yard to be built in stock. The shipbuilder is convinced these vessels offer such superior capacities for offshore operators, they will be sold at short hand. For clients, getting the vessels from stock means extremely short delivery times. Customisation with cranes, additional battery packs or other deck equipment is also available at short notice.
Damen Shipyards Group sets to revolutionise the offshore crew transfer market with their fleet of fast vessels. This fleet offers a viable alternative for helicopters. Improvement of safety, reduction of cost and increased efficiency are the pillars of how Damen together with its partners will change this market with the ‘flagship’ FCS 7011 soon demonstrating her potential to the offshore energy market.
Damen Shipyards Group
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