The future of offshore crew change
Director Business Development and Market Intelligence
Damen Shipyards Group
Damen’s revolutionary new Fast Crew Supplier (FCS) 7011 aims at the fast, long distance transfer of personnel for the offshore oil & gas industry – in safety and comfort. Construction of the first vessel is well underway at Damen Shipyards Antalya, Turkey. The launch of the vessel is scheduled for Q3 next year, with completion of commissioning set to follow by the end of the year. Damen’s director business development and market intelligence David Stibbe brings the Offshore Journal up to speed on the progress of the project.
As the first FCS 7011 is already being built, has a client placed an order for the vessel?
No, not at this stage. Building the vessel on speculation is not unusual for Damen, our business model is the production of ships in series, often stock building for fast delivery. In the case of the FCS 7011 we have done our research and talked to the market, in addition to performing extensive model testing. We are extremely confident of its relevance. In fact, we are already seeing a lot of interest in the vessel from multiple potential customers around the world.
Damen aims to go beyond the role of shipbuilder and to be the integrator, clearly this requires collaboration with partners. Can you give some examples of this?
The FCS 7011 has been developed in consultation with our clients – and with their clients, the end user. Moreover, we have worked closely with our suppliers to ensure that all features are tailored and fully integrated to the vessel. For example, we have worked closely with Ampelmann to ensure an access system customised for the FCS 7011, with Kongsberg to develop a DP system that perfectly matches the specifics of the vessel and with VEEM for the application of gyro stabilizer.
In what ways does the FCS 7011 stand out from other vessels of a similar purpose?
For starters, the FCS 7011 is very light for a vessel of its size; this is the largest aluminium vessel that Damen has ever built. Then there are a whole range of measures that we have taken to make sure that travelling on board this vessel is as comfortable as can be. For example, we have located the seating amidships where vertical acceleration is lowest – as demonstrated by the tank testing carried out at Delft University of Technology.
Furthermore, the seating area is spacious with a high ceiling and large windows. The seating itself is of a very high standard and is reclining. Each seat features its own personal entertainment system. The HVAC system is also very high quality; an ample amount of fresh air is provided to the passengers to reduce symptoms of seasickness.
A further factor is the ‘route to work’. The vessel is designed with a smooth logistical flow – allowing boarding, luggage stowage, access to seating and transfer to take place in the most efficient manner possible.
How does the gyro stabilizer assist in delivering comfort? The VEEM gyro stabilizer is a vital part of the overall package.
It provides motion damping both during station-keeping and underway reducing roll motions and thereby enhancing passenger comfort.
Damen is known for its practice of standardised shipbuilding. The FCS 7011 is an example of this. Does this leave any room for client customisation?
Absolutely. As with any standardised Damen vessel, the FCS 7011 offer numerous options to meet individual client requirements. For example, the model that we are building now features the highest possible installed power – giving it the capability to sail at up to 40 knots. There are options for customers to have less power installed if that matches their model of operation. Similarly, this vessel will feature seating for up to 120 passengers in full business class. Should a client opt to have fully economy class, the vessel will be able to transport as many as 250 passengers.
Also, the client could choose not to have a motion-compensated gangway, but instead opted for a FROG crew transfer carrier.
The maritime sectors are changing rapidly. What steps have you taken to ensure the relevance of the FCS 7011 for the future?
The vessel features full digital connection. It will, for example, allow for remote monitoring. This will enable preventative maintenance and analysis of sailing performance, leading to greater efficiency in operations.
You mention that potential clients have already expressed interest in the FCS 7011. For what sort of operations are they considering this vessel?
The interest we are seeing is diverse. Companies all over the world are considering the vessel for both green field and mature field operations. They are looking at this vessel for start-up drilling campaigns as well as crew change during operational life of fixed and floating platforms. Requirements of reduced cost and increased safety are stimulating great interest in alternative marine access solutions throughout the industry.
That being the case, does Damen have wider plans for increasing its marine access portfolio?
Yes, we are always looking at ways to develop our portfolio. We are, for example, looking into the development of a crew change vessel that can operate comfortably in extremely harsh weather – albeit at lower speeds – thus further opening up safe operational windows.