A Reliable Partner
-- FROM THE FULL PICTURE MAGAZINE -- When Sea Trucks Group decided to expand its fleet with pipe-lay vessels in the late '90s, they looked to the market for an experienced supplier of DP systems. Kongsberg was selected as the preferred supplier, and the partnership has lasted ever since.
The Full Picture Magazine visited the Sea Trucks Group's office at Kwong Soon Engineering Co Pte Ltd in Singapore, where the company will outfit its latest addition to the Jascon series of DP3 pipe-lay construction vessels, Jascon 18. With a 22-strong local project team, including designers from China, the company is well prepared for the task at hand. In addition, it can draw from extensive experience. This is not the company's first project of this kind. After the successful delivery of its first offshore pipe-lay vessel, Jascon 5, in April 2004, Sea Trucks entered the global contracting business. Based on the design of the Jascon 5, the group launched a massive newbuilding program of 7 DP3 'hybrid' offshore marine construction vessels. The first five were delivered between 2007 and 2010, and the remaining two are scheduled for delivery in the next two years.
"These DP3 construction vessels are unique in the offshore industry. We call them 'hybrid vessels' since they are able to install both rigid pipelines in S-lay as well as flexible pipelines.
They also have big unobstructed decks, large permanent accommodation facilities and crane capacities between 270 and 1800 tonnes," explains Roy de Mink, Manager for Purchasing & Subcontracting.
With the Jascon series of DP3 construction vessels, Sea Trucks offers marine services to the offshore oil and gas industry worldwide. Although its headquarters is in West Africa, the Sea Trucks Group also has operational and supporting offices in the Middle East, Europe, South East Asia and Australia. The company offers services ranging from subsea construction and SURF solutions to accommodation hook-up, decommissioning and heavy lift services as well as fabrication supported by a multi-cultural workforce of more than 2,400. Most of the vessels are built in China, outfitted in Singapore and sent off to operate worldwide, which is why the company needs suppliers that can provide support anywhere in the world. Since most of the vessels carrying Kongsberg equipment are outfitted in Singapore, local presence during construction is vital.
"One of our criteria when looking for a supplier was the ability to offer worldwide customer support. With our international presence, we need good backup and service people in all areas of the world, from Africa to South America to the Far East. The Kongsberg people seated here are in the same time zone. This makes it easier to get on the phone and talk to people and they can come down and talk face-to-face with us," says Tom Ford, E&I Manager for Sea Trucks Group.
When Jascon 18 is completed in about a year, it will be the deepwater flagship of Sea Trucks's construction vessel fleet. As one of the last vessels to be delivered in the group's seven newbuild pipe-lay programme, Jascon 18 is fitted with a Full Picture DP-3 system, K-Bridge integrated bridge system, K-Thrust thrusters control system and K-Chief 700 marine automation system. It's not the first time Sea Trucks has chosen Kongsberg. No less than 15 of the company's previous vessels are equipped with Kongsberg systems, and 7 of these construction newbuilds feature Kongsberg DP-3 and automation systems.
"Back in the 1990s, we were looking for a supplier that really knew the market. We needed a company which had been in the market for a long time and had extensive experience with DP systems and control and monitoring systems for bigger vessels. After evaluating various suppliers and manufacturers, we decided to go for Kongsberg because of the company's vast experience, long track record and reliable hardware," explains Roy de Mink.
Impossible to black out
A lot has happened since the cooperation between the two companies started. In the DP3 vessels' early beginnings, there was a lot to be learnt about the Kongsberg systems: "We bought this very nice Power Management System from Kongsberg and we only used a small part of it," explains Ford, but emphasising that this was only true of the older vessels. "We've moved a long way forward from there. For instance, during commissioning of Jascon 31, Sea Trucks Group's latest delivery, we tested all sides of the system. We tried very hard to black the ship out, but couldn't manage it. Today, Kongsberg's Power Management System has become far more critical than on the older vessels, because the new ones are diesel electric. The demand for Jascon 18 is going to be high, so we need a system that will not allow the vessel to black out," concludes Ford.