Damen fits new feet to wind farm vessel

30 Apr 2014
‘MPI Resolution’ at Damen ARNO Dunquerque

‘MPI Resolution’ at Damen ARNO Dunquerque

Damen Shiprepair and Conversion reports that its Damen ARNO Dunkerque yard has recently completed an interesting upgrade to the world’s first purpose-built offshore wind turbine installation and maintenance vessel.

The MPI Resolution, built in 2003, is a 130m long and 3m38m wide jack-up vessel, which is transformed from ship to work platform by a hydraulic jacking system that raises it clear of the sea bed at a rate of 0.5m/minute. It is equipped with 600t and 50t cranes and has accommodation for up to 30 crew and 40 installation personnel.

The yard carried out upgrades on the feet or ‘spudcans’ of all six hydraulic legs to give additional strength to withstand the high loads to which they are subjected when spudding on rocky seabeds. The upgrade was needed to allow the vessel to work on installing a wind farm of the Eastern UK coast.

The operation, which is thought to be the first of kind, involved strengthening the spudcans through the use of an innovative sandwich plate system (SPS) developed by UK company Intelligent Engineering. SPS is a composite material comprising two metal plates bonded with a polyurethane elastomer core. In the case of the MPI Resolution, the original 40mm steel plating on the spudcans was bonded with a 40mm layer of polyurethane elastomer to a second 40mm high strength steel plate. This not only provided a quicker and easier solution than replacing the feet with 100mm steel plate, but allowed the spudcans to be strengthened without exceeding the specified limit of 25t additional weight per leg.

Damen ARNO Dunkerque carried out the steel work in collaboration with Intelligent Engineering during the vessel’s 10-year survey and drydocking, which included various other extensive refitting operations. The whole operation was completed within a month, allowing the vessel to leave Dunkirk one day ahead of its scheduled delivery date, despite its having arrived at the French port two weeks later than expected.

Damen ARNO Dunkerque managing director Bob Derks said that the yard worked 24 hours a day and seven days a week to ensure that the work was completed on time. With outside personnel, the yard’s 165-strong permanent workforce was doubled. “The most challenging thing for us was making sure that all the work was carried out in parallel with security, safety and quality assured. The work was carried out from the bottom up right up to the cranes. People were working everywhere.”

Intelligent Engineering SPS shipbuilding director Martin Brooking said that the use of SPS had turned what would have been a much longer and complex operation into one that had been able to be carried out during the MPI Resolution’s scheduled drydocking. This would not have been possible, he said, if the existing steel plate had been replaced with 100mm steel plate, which would have involved much more time and work.

“This is a reference project for us,” said Mr Derks. “It is a market which is growing now, given the age of the vessels operating in installing the wind farms.”

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