Interest builds in game-changing FCS 7011
One of Damen’s most ambitious projects to date, the Fast Crew Supplier (FCS) 7011 concept, not only represents a major investment in technical research and development, it is also underpinned by an exceptional level of cross-industry consultation and brain-storming from its earliest stages. The objective; to create a new class of vessel that aims to deliver a long-awaited paradigm shift in offshore logistics. The 70-metre FCS 7011 builds on Damen’s successful FCS series, but represents a quantum leap forwards in terms of size, speed and capability.
2018 is the year that production of the first vessel in the series begins. September 2017 saw an initial programme of scale model testing to validate the intensive design and modelling process that had gone before. With the results of that integrated into the design, a second series of towing tank tests took place in April to finalise the adjustments. Its success gives the green light for the build to get underway with completion expected late the following year.
Meanwhile, the design and integration of the Ampelmann motioncompensated gangway have been completed and attention is now turning to the powerful gyroscopic stabilisers that will virtually eliminate roll motion when the FCS 7011 is alongside an offshore platform, delivering enhanced safety and comfort. A test will take place in the early summer using a 50-metre FCS 5009 and a VEEM VG260, a smaller version of the stabiliser than has been selected for the FCS 7011.
This combination will be used to demonstrate the huge performance potential of a gyroscope application for stationary transfer operations. The FCS 7011 will use active interceptors to manage dynamic stability when in transit.
So much more than ‘just’ technology
However, the technical aspect of the design is just one aspect of the development process. Since the earliest stages of the project, Damen has been consulting with companies across the offshore energy industry regarding its view of how logistics need to evolve in the sector, looking not just years, but decades into the future. There is no doubt that change is needed, and so the basis of the discussion is the investigation of new ways to deliver personnel in a fast, safe and economical fashion, particularly as production platforms move farther offshore.
In partnership with almost every major supplier and purchaser of offshore personnel transfer services, Damen is working to develop a new and more sustainable business model for the sector. To deliver efficiencies and cost savings, this involves not only determining the ideal mix of waterborne and airborne transport to specific locations, but also looking at different ways of contracting to allow more transparency and flexibility.
This study includes looking at moving away from traditional day rate fee structures to those that might charge on a pay per person/transfer, and even the possibility of vessel sharing among operators, so that a single large vessel like an FCS 7011 could embark multiple crews and deliver them to multiple platforms on a single run.
Timing is everything
This thorough and versatile approach is steadily building interest in the vessel and its conceptual basis both from operators and end clients. The timing is right as the sights of the offshore industry move ever farther offshore to find both new oil and gas fields, and stronger winds. The economics of waterborne transport is thus becoming increasingly compelling, providing the personnel can be delivered to their places of work quickly, safely and in good shape, in a wide range of sea states.
The Gulf of Mexico is one location where the FCS 7011 can deliver a real efficiency change in offshore logistics, and for that reason Damen has already licensed long-standing partner Metal Shark to build them for the USA market at its yard in Louisiana. Other major regions have been identified that would also benefit from the outset. New offshore projects in which different logistical strategies can be evaluated from the very beginning are expected to be early adopters of the new class and the business model that goes with it.
It’s not often that a vessel comes along that can genuinely be described as paradigm shifting, but Damen’s FCS 7011 is surely a contender for the title. The next few years will surely tell.