On the fast track

Published in category: Offshore Wind

Ryan_Hopkins_Managing_Director_Severn_Offshore_Services

Meeting demand for multipurpose service vessels

Ryan Hopkins
Managing Director
Severn Offshore Services

For a new company to successfully break into the market, having strong management systems and the best skippers and crews is only half the battle. The lack of available finance for building service vessels is a major barrier to market entry. Without it, the offshore wind industry will struggle to meet demand, says Severn Offshore Services Managing Director Ryan Hopkins.

“The market is set to pick up,” Mr Hopkins explains during a visit to Damen Shipyards Gorinchem in the Netherlands. “Over the next 18 months, a number of North Sea sites are starting construction, nearing completion and entering O&M phases.”

Since the recent delivery of the UK-based startup’s first vessel, the Damen Twin Axe FCS 2610 Severn Provider, Severn Offshore Services has proved an immediate success.

“With the expected shortage of vessels starting in late 2016, we’ve been approached by utilities looking to forward contract our services now for 2017. So that’s why we’re looking to grow the fleet. But the capex of these vessels is large. Not everybody has got a few million in cash to finance the purchase of boats. There needs to be financing available and Damen understands that. That’s unique and creates great opportunities. Without Damen’s help we would not have been able to establish ourselves so quickly.”

Easier than buying a house

Severn Offshore Services began in June 2014 with a visit to the Damen stand at Seawork in Southampton. While Mr Hopkins had heard of Damen before, he was surprised how approachable they were.

“Damen makes buying a boat very simple and straightforward. In a way it is easier than buying a house. The company is very organised which ensures the whole process runs smoothly. As a new company we didn’t have to go for standard term finance, raise a very large deposit and wait a year for the vessel to be built. Damen’s ability to deliver in double quick time is a real benefit. They can build a vessel from stock and have it ready for delivery in 2 to 3 months.”

Combination of best team and best equipment

After meeting with clients and negotiating rates for the vessel, Mr Hopkins flew to Holland and met with Damen over the Christmas period. By January 2015 everything was finalised. The Damen Twin Axe FCS 2610 was completed at Damen Shipyards Singapore before transport to Damen Shipyards Gorinchem for final outfitting. In April 2015, the Severn Provider was mobilized to German waters for its first 3-month wind farm contract. Six months after that, the multipurpose 26-metre vessel was still on site.
“The client is very happy. We’re performing well, the vessel is performing well and our contract has been extended. A good boat and captain and a well-trained crew coupled with having the right systems in place makes for success. Severn Offshore Services is certainly reaping the benefits from working closely with Damen.”

A comfortable business model

Severn Offshore Services Managing Director Ryan Hopkins:
“You can’t just buy a fantastic boat turnkey and walk away. You have to have the systems and the people to make it work. But the best skippers want the best facilities and a comfortable place to work. After all, the boat is their home for 4 weeks at a time.

That’s how I looked at it when we determined the specification for the FCS 2610. Plus, the seakeeping is spot on. The boat operates very well in all sea states. It means we can be particular about whom we employ – always ensuring we only get the very best.”