Offshore and cruise dominate spring repair

All offshore: ‘Bold Tern’, ‘Aeolus’, ‘Island Captain’ and ‘Island Centurion’ at LWB All offshore: ‘Bold Tern’, ‘Aeolus’, ‘Island Captain’ and ‘Island Centurion’ at LWB

Offshore vessels in all their complex variety, along with seasonal cruise ships, dominate an active repair and conversion scene in Germany this spring, reports Tom Todd.

Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven (LWB) remains a frontrunner in both the offshore and cruise categories with the stress currently on the former.

Reporting a positive situation, MD Rüdiger Pallentin said: “We are already well-booked until October”. He added however it was not simply the number of ships calling for repair or overhaul that had contributed most to that situation but rather the value content of individual repair contracts. He also said the first full year of the new Kaiserhafen shipyard alliance had brought further positive results.

Despite the positive outlook this year, LWB said there was still “no sign whatsoever of the long-hoped-for silver lining on the German shipbuilding horizon. “Even though we are quite satisfied with our results and short-term prospects … that does not mean that a turning point is in sight” it said. Many in the industry will share that view.

Calling at LWB in May for class and repair work was the 24,318gt floating university ship Explorer - once the cruise ship Olympia Explorer. It is her first visit to a German shipyard since she was built at Blohm & Voss in 2001.

Dock jobs included class work for GL and repairs to her engine plant, superstructures and tanks, pipe systems and ventilation plant. For overhaul were seacocks, rudder, propeller and gearing plant while tanks were being cleaned and conserved. Her fresh water system, which LWB said Explorer had been having “repeated problems” with, was being repaired and new floor coverings laid. Heeling tests were being conducted alongside.

Booked at LWB for nearly three weeks up to early May was the 6,471gt expedition cruise ship National Geographic Explorer. It is her second visit in a year. This time round she will kick off the 2014 cruise ship wet-docking season in the Kaiserhafen, undergoing extensive repair and installation work while berthed alongside.

Project engineer Carl Ratjen, who was also responsible for the 2013 work, said the main job this time was the replacement of air conditioning units and the renewal of associated pipework. Chillers were for installation in the air conditioning plant. Additional work covered the design, pre-manufacture and installation of a further boiler room, steelworks in both port and starboard ballast tanks and the elimination of superstructure cracks.

The 76,998gt Mein Schiff 1 was booked late April for eight days - five years after she was extensively converted at LWB.

LWB described the job, won over stiff competition, as “technically demanding” but Mr Pallentin added "extremely tight deadlines are nothing new to us”. He added the yard knew the ship well “and we could not be better equipped to handle her now".

Along with class renewal, she was undergoing inspection of seacocks, shafts and rudders and overhaul of both stabilisers and five bow and stern thrusters. The entire ship was also being painted and tank steel repairs carried out. LWB said it expected the biggest and most challenging part of the job would be extensive work on the air conditioning system where two chillers were being exchanged – that work including changes to footings and pipe work.

Mr Pallentin said LWB also intended to “concentrate even more” on work for the oil and gas business. “We will further expand this very innovative, labour intensive and also challenging sector of specialised shipbuilding and intensify our efforts to acquire new orders”, he said.

Work in that sector this year has already included conversion of the 132m long wedge-shaped Fred Olsen Windcarriers installation jack-up Bold Tern.

The vessel came for three weeks, mainly for demobilisation of equipment used in a completed wind farm project and the mounting of gear for an ongoing job, project engineer Jochen Mehrtens told The Motorship.

Mr Mehrtens said three support frameworks, each as high as a house and weighing 100t, 140t and 160t repectively, had been removed at LWB and a new set of three frameworks of total 110t had been installed. Mr Mehrtens said the electrical system for the deck equipment had been modified to meet actual needs.

Another installation jack-up vessel, the 14,800grt Aeolus was moved to LWB after her completion at Sietas earlier this year. The Bremerhaven yard will fit her out and install jack-up legs in complex work up to July.

Aeolus and Bold Tern are the latest in a series of similar offshore jobs which the yard said were stimulating old and well-proven shipbuilding skills. LWB has already handled similar work in the past. It had “showed just what we are capable of”, he said, a comment referring to handling complex hydraulic machinery of unusual dimensions and tackling extensive and difficult leg positioning.

The four 87m steel legs on Aeolus each of 920t were being settled into their jacking positions at LWB. Technical Director Thorsten Beiler said "we have made a good start in the new offshore market, which is an exciting one and very challenging for us”. Aeolus howeverwas “an extra-special challenge” and one which “really suits us”, he added.

A type LR 13000 crawler crane with a 3,800t load capacity and a 130m long jib was being brought in from Holland to install all four jack-up legs.

The yard was also installing spud cans and the vessel’s own 900t capacity crane, building and fitting deck reinforcements and foundations for a second 500t auxiliary crane and for a third crane, designed to improve flexible working at sea.

Reported heading for early completion meanwhile was the “complicated” conversion of the two 93m former offshore platform supply ships Island Centurion and Island Captain into specialised well-service vessels. Centurion has been at LWB since 2012 and Captain since last year, when their completion had originally been expected. Mr Pallentin has said the conversions “demand high levels of competence – that’s just the way we like it”.

At associated German Dry Docks (GDD) MD Uwe Beck reported that 350 ship repair contracts had been handled in 2013. It was “a very good work-load which testifies to high acceptance”, he said, adding that 184 ships had been processed in the docks or at the berths of GDD yards. The remaining work had been part of round-the-clock service offered within the port.

Like LWB, GDD has also enjoyed some good offshore work of late. Booked in late April, the yard reported, was the “very special” 86.2m Norwegian seismic ship Ramform Challenger.

Another wedge shaped and at 39m unusually wide vessel was one of the first of its kind to operate in Norway with 10km long stern survey cables. GDD said it was building a new bridge nock “in record time” to replace a damaged nock and was being mounted during the stay of Ramform Challenger. While that was going on, class and engine maintenance work would be carried out and air-conditioning chillers replaced, the yard reported.

Earlier, four other offshore workhorses called at GDD facilities. The 77m Hartmann AHTS vessel UOS Liberty and her sister UOS Challenger called in quick succession at MWB for class renewal work, docking and repairs as well as coating. The 76.5m offshore construction ship REM Star also called. GDD told The Motorship that ship underwent extensive tank blasting and coating work which was carried out “in the shortest time possible”. REM Star’s bow and stern thrusters as well as rudder and propeller plant were also overhauled, the yard added. The group had last year overhauled sister REM Installer. Finally the wind farm supply ship Natalie called but no details of her work were forthcoming.

Also in Hamburg, considerable movement of big ships was reported of late at Blohm & Voss Repair (B+V).

The yard finally said goodbye to the 20,800dwt FPSO PetroJarl Banff after a stay of 18 months for extensive structural, life extension and class work. For a year of that the big ship filled the yard’s giant Elbe Dock 17.

B+V re-delivered the 47,980dwt bulk carrier Tonghai after a five month stay. She arrived last December for docking, unspecified rudder repairs, class work and general repairs.

One of the two private yachts which have been docked at the yard since last October was also leaving in April, a reliable source told The Motorship. The 126m Octopus, which reportedly has undergone a refit, was spotted out of her 40m covered dock in early April testing her 19m tender and other equipment. However the 133m Al Mirqab was still at the yard this spring and believed to be staying until about June to complete overhaul and, according to some, conversion work.

Not letting the grass grow under its feet and pointing up yet again its big dock capacity and specialist expertise, B+V Repair docked the 21,200dwt trailing suction hopper dredger Willem van Oranje for dock work including hopper flap resealing and pipe work.

Container ships are not common in German shipyard activity these days, but their repair is thankfully somewhat more frequent. When they do turn up, more often than not the jobs are at B+V.

Two had called this year by the time The Motorship went to press. The 68.120dwt container ship MSC Emma came in for work including external hull cleaning and conservation, class work and general repairs. The 18,457dwt Frederik also docked for three days in dock and unspecified rudder work.

In Hamburg, Norderwerft has been impressively busy of late according to the daily listing of ships arriving in port. The yard was taken over from Sietas by Lüerssen in late 2012 and renamed Norderwerft Repair. It has never been forthcoming about current projects and when asked by The Motorship, Lüerssen declined comment about vessels being repaired or overhauled in any of its repair yards. However, when it took over Norderwerft it said it wanted to expand the yard’s strengths in merchant and naval vessel repair.

Listed at Norderwerft in early April, all presumably for repair, overhaul or maintenance work of one kind or another, were the 5,335dwt container feeder Dornbusch and the 14,220dwt container ship Svendborg Strait. The 3,200 dwt Bundesmarine reconnaissance ship Oste berthed and two former Intersee ships also called – the 10,500dwt multi-purpose MarMadura (ex Angelika) and the 8,250 general cargo ship Celia. Earlier callers included the 6,650dwt container feedership Hanni, the 11,400dwt Larissa and the 10,580dwt general cargo ship MarMisool (ex Nadja).

At the restructuring of Lindenau Werft in Kiel, three older cranes have been dismantled as part of a “clean up” of the former newbuilding facility. One of the big cranes was acquired by Lüerssen-Kroeger Werft and other smaller units were retained.

Lindenau’s new owners, the ADM Germany group Privinvest, are continuing to concentrate on small vessel repair at the yard to complement activity at its other two yards: Nobiskrug on the Kiel Canal and ADM Kiel.

Group repair chief Bernd Wittorf said Lindenau was ideally located at the northern entrance to the Kiel Canal which would give Privinvest “an outstanding increase in our repair capacity”. It could react flexibly to repair orders and provide 24/7 service, he said. It can look back on good small ship repair and overhaul business this year so far. At one point in March it had six ships berthed or in dock. Its biggest client was the Bundesmarine, whose 83.5m Oker was one of the six.

In a surprise development, the conversion at BVT of the 78.7 Ostfriesland into Europe’s first car ferry with dual-fuel (DF) propulsion was postponed. She will not now be converted in May as planned, to enter service in June.

Owner AG Ems said it was taking up a contract option and keeping the1,860gt ship in service until mid September. She will then go to Bremen’s BVT yard for installation of a new 15m stern and DF propulsion. That will increase her length to 92.7m, cost €13 million and be completed in early November.

AG Ems said it also wanted “more time for detailed work” and declared “quality takes precedence over speed”. In the meantime stern steel and engine work was going ahead at BVT and the delivery of her Warsila 20DF gensets and LNGPac fuel system was unchanged.

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