DeepOcean has welcomed its advanced cable installation vessel to North East England for the mobilisation of specialist cable handling equipment for projects in the offshore renewables and subsea interconnector sectors.
Operated by Darlington-based DeepOcean on a long-term charter from its owners Maersk, the vessel, Maersk Connector, represents an approximate £100m investment in new technology to support the efficient laying of offshore cables.
DeepOcean has secured offshore renewable and interconnector projects worth in the region of £200m, some of which was unlocked having secured the charter of the vessel. Initially the Maersk Connector will be utilised to install subsea array cables for an offshore wind farm project in Belgium before laying subsea export cables for the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea.
Subsequently the vessel will install a subsea interconnector cable between Belgium and the UK, which will increase the supply of power to Britain from the continent supporting the reduction in the cost of electricity.
Reportedly, the Maersk Connector is the only vessel with the ability to ground when fully loaded allowing DeepOcean to install cables from the beach, in shallow and deep waters. This key enabling capability, which was developed in cooperation between the vessel builder Damen and DeepOcean’s experienced engineering team, represents key progression in the drive towards improved offshore efficiencies.
The 138m-long vessel has docked at A&P Tyne’s yard in the North East of England where it will be fitted with an advanced split capacity carousel produced by Parkburn Precision Handling Systems, which has sites in Hamilton and Telford. Fabricated at A&P facility on the River Tyne, the carousel has an outer diameter of 27.3m and is 7.5m tall, enabling the vessel to carry 7,000 tonnes of cable.
The installation of the carousel and associated equipment, which will be managed by DeepOcean, will be carried out at the A&P yard over a two-month period before it embarks on its first project in Belgian waters in the summer. It will be crewed by 90 people, which will include 70 of DeepOcean’s specialist offshore personnel.
DeepOcean has also engaged IHC to deliver an advanced cable plough for the vessel, which will be fitted later in the year at the Port of Blyth for projects in 2017. Designed in conjunction with DeepOcean, this is the first plough in the offshore industry fully-designed for optimum performance in all seabed operations, but specifically for the safe handling of large diameter power cables.
Pierre Boyde, Commercial Director of DeepOcean, said: “We are extremely proud of the Maersk Connector, which demonstrates the benefits of close collaboration and innovative design and engineering. Its ability to lay cable from the shore to deep waters is a significant efficiency gain for offshore projects, which is a key consideration for the energy industry.
“It also proves the value of the UK supply chain and the quality of the businesses serving the international offshore sector. DeepOcean is always keen to utilise local suppliers who share our valves and can bring new ideas and efficiencies to our projects.”
He added: “The investment in the Maersk Connector represents DeepOcean’s increasing presence in the offshore renewables and interconnector markets. Our continued growth in these sectors supports a programme of research and development to improve offshore operations, which includes establishing productive, long-term relationships with the supply chain.”