A new asset for aquaculture. The utility vessel range reaches a milestone
It doesn’t often make the headlines, but the importance of the aquaculture industry, otherwise known as fish farming, is evident every time we go into the supermarket. Producing over 100 million tonnes of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants a year, it accounts for around half the annual global fish consumption and has a value in excess of 150 billion euro a year. It is also one of the fastest growing of all food production sectors.
Damen first began a detailed study into the vessel requirements of the aquaculture sector 4 years ago. At the same time, it also recognised that there was wider demand for working vessels that in size fall between its unrivalled ranges of workboats and the larger offshore support vessels. Smaller operators in particular were looking for assets that, while being capable of taking on specialist roles, could also quickly be adapted for different assignments should market conditions change.
Damen Sales Manager Norway Remko Hottentot says: “The result of these two complementary research programmes is the Damen Utility Vessel range. Currently made up of eight vessel types from 25 to 65 metres, they all share common attributes such as efficient hull forms for reduced slamming and excellent seakeeping, high quality build and outfitting, large accommodation and working areas, and spacious aft decks.”
A wide range of options mean that clients can specify operational capabilities, such as lower-end maintenance for offshore energy installations, diving support, survey work or environmental protection.
However, the basic designs and core capabilities mean that conversion from one role to another can be achieved quickly and cost-effectively, a valuable attribute in an unpredictable market.
First UV 4312 heads for Norway
“As part of the development process Damen has taken, and continues to take, time to consult with the Norwegian aquaculture industry, Europe’s largest and oldest with nearly 50 years’ experience. Of particular importance to them and to Northern Europe’s other fish farmers is the issue of sea lice on farmed salmon. In large enough numbers these can kill fish, and so treating the fish regularly is an important part of the farming process. This requires vessels capable of mounting sizeable assemblies of equipment on deck, and with easy access to the water,” continues Mr Hottentot.
The Damen UV 4312 utility vessel ordered by VOLT Service AS of Norway in January 2017 will be able to deliver that and more. With low freeboard and easy access to the waterline on both sides, the height difference experienced by the fish during pumping and delousing is kept to a minimum, making the experience for the valuable salmon much less stressful and so reducing losses. It also has a large hold and removable railings for hose-handling operations.
The diesel-electric configuration ensures an efficient, flexible power supply for the 750 kW propulsion installation and ample energy for driving the deck equipment when alongside the fish pens. Additional equipment requested by the client includes third and fourth cranes, DP1, increased bow thruster power and an ozone generator. All these can easily be accommodated within the basic design, and the result is a vessel that combines specific capabilities with the layout and equipment it needs to undertake a wide range of other support duties.
Other operators in salmon producing countries such as the UK and Chile could also benefit from the UV 4312. Of course, the aquaculture industry will continue to need other types of vessels to support its varied operations. Damen continues to offer and sell other utility vessels, Multi Cats, tugs, pontoons, crew transfer vessels and live fish carriers to the industry.
However the Utility Vessel range is intended to provide both the aquaculture industry and the wider inshore/offshore support services sector with a new class of vessel that delivers capability, flexibility and economy at a time when these attributes are valued as never before.