Specialist conversions shine at German repair yards

New tasks for research ship (Photo IOW) New tasks for research ship (Photo IOW)

Specialist conversions, some of them unusual, have been among the highlights of recent activity at German repair yards, particularly the smaller facilities, writes Tom Todd.

Due for completion mid September at Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven was the conversion of a semi-submersible, heavy lift ship into an 11,000dwt offshore supply, maintenance and installation vessel.

LWB completed Combi Dock 1V in 2010 for Combi Lift – the last of four sister newbuilds from the yard. Her conversion now to OIG Giant 11 for the new Offshore Installation Group (OIG) shows how rapidly specialist ships and in turn shipyards in northern Europe are changing to meet the demands of a burgeoning offshore wind energy sector.

The OIG joint venture groups German Combi Lift operator Harren & Partners, Goldmann Sachs Capital Partners and Global Mooring Services in Norway. OIG has already acquired and converted Harren’s Blue Giant (ex Combi Dock 11)for service as OIG Giant 1. A third 11,000dwt ship – the future OIG Giant 111 is being built for delivery by the P + S Shipyard in Wolgast in December 2012.

It is planned to have six ships in operation by the end of 2013 and the other Harren Combi Lift ships, already ideally suited with heavy load capabilities, high-capacity cranes, stern ramps and docking for floating cargo, will also be among them. Further conversion work appeared more than likely for LWB.

The yard said OIG Giant II was scheduled for re-delivery on 15 September after a yard stay of more than nine weeks.

Work on the 180m long, 25.4m wide ship included the installation of a helicopter deck, six additional gensets and a new switchboard and an additional accommodation block for 120 people. On top of that the 16 knot ship was getting a DP02 system, an enlarged bow thruster of 1,800kW, two stern thrusters of 1,750kW and two azimuths of 2,000kW. Columns on the 350 ton cranes were being lengthened by 10m and total tandem crane capacity will be 700tons + 200t with 500t AHC at 2,500m water depth. The ship will also have a moonpool and a submersible and tiltable/open stern ramp for pull-out/float out.

Completed by LWB meanwhile after a busy first half year of cruise ship conversion was the repair and maintenance of the 12,558gt German polar research ship Polarstern.

That work included sand blasting and painting of hull, deck, accommodation and ballast water tank areas. The modification of Posidonia transducer equipment at the bottom of the vessel, the installation of an additional fishery transducer and the modification of the hull was also being carried out. Preparation of ‘ROV-Quest’ activities, the removal and refitting of wooden covers, grinding of steel deck and working deck measuring was also on the list.

The ship’s radar mast was being fully encased, sand blasted and painted, shaft seals were being changed, propeller blades overhauled and pipes, valves and pumps overhauled or replaced.

The 118m long and 24m wide Polarstern has been a regular visitor to LWB for dry-docking, repair and maintenance since 1989.

Finally there was speculation that TUI, after buying and converting the Meyer-built Galaxy and Mercury from Celebrity and converting them at LWB into Mein Schiff I and Mein Schiff II, might now complete the cycle and also buy and convert sister Century. It seemed likely as The Motorship went to press, that LWB would again be first in line for that conversion. Could it be Mein Schiff III?

Smaller German yards have been chalking up interesting conversion successes also. Among them is the marathon conversion at Peters Schiffbau in Wewelsfleth of the former German fisheries protection ship Seefalke into the 1930gt research ship Falkor for service with the US-based Schmidt Ocean Institute.

The work on that 30-year-old, 82.9m long and 13m wide vessel began in 2009 and is now due for completion by the end of this year. The ship was reported to have left dry-dock and berthed at the outfitting quay in spring and Schmidt Ocean confirmed she was being outfitted. However, just why the conversion has taken so long has not been reported.

Back into operation much more quickly for civilian use after conversion at the Wolgast Peene yard of P + S Werften was the 56.50m long multi-purpose research ship Elisabeth Mann Borgese – the former military research auxiliary Schwedeneck.

She retained her three Diesel generators of type MTU 6V 396 TBH 53 providing a service speed of 11 knots and is now operating out of Warnemünde for the Leibniz Institute of Baltic Sea Research (IOW).

She has been given an increased 97m2 of lab space, fin stabilisers and bow and stern thrusters. Her on-board equipment has been expanded to include lifting and launching gear for conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) probes.

Routine merchant ship work dominated the scene through the summer, as it did earlier in the year, at Blohm + Voss, with the occasional cruise ship docking to remind people of B + V flexibility.

A long line of merchant ship types called for routine repair and maintenance as the Hamburg yard waited for word of new owners after talks on its take-over by Abu Dhabi Mar collapsed in July. A yard source told The Motorship there was relief that the long negotiating stalemate was over but also some tension as the issue moved “back to square one”.

Although there was no agreement on B + V, the sale of the civilian merchant shipbuilding, and presumably also repair, activities of HDW Kiel Gaarden did go ahead in July. The yard has now been added to ADM’s newbuild and repair portfolio, which already includes Nobiskrug in Rendsburg.

At B + V it must have seemed just like old times when Chiquita booked in four reefer ships for repair and maintenance. The owner commissioned similar series work some years ago. The latest work, on the 1991/92 built Chiquita Belgie, Chiquita Nederland, Chiquita Deutschland and Chiquita Schweiz,  involved stays of more than 10 days each. It again pointed up B + V versatility and its continuing pull as a merchant repair facility.

The job covered dry-docking, hull cleaning and conservation, general repairs and maintenance – all connected with classification renewal on the 13,930dwt sisters.

Other recent merchant ship tasks included 11 days of docking, general repairs and class work on the 105,014dwt container ship MSC Charleston and similar work along with cleaning and conservation on the 43,002dwt fruit juice tanker Premium Do Brasil, in for 10 days.

The open-hatch cargo ship Jaeger Arrow of 23,529dwt was in dock for nearly a month for rudder repairs after being towed to Hamburg. She got a new Becker rudder.

The 15,187gt ferry Schleswig-Holstein also came for dry-docking and overhaul in Dock 16, work which reportedly covered stern, propellers and engine room as well as a new coat of paint.

More details are now available of the extensive revamp in summer of the 8,378gt Hanseatic at B + V. Owner Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said the work, which put the ship into the H-L livery sported by the rest of the HLC fleet, had been comprehensive and that the worksheet covered more than 780 items. It including renovation and modernisation of two cabin decks and the buffet restaurant as well as the modernisation of the pool and sauna area.

In another HLC development, spokeswoman Romy Kujawski told MS it would be at least September before a shipyard is named to carry out planned conversion work on Oceania’s 30,277gt Insignia which is due to join the HLC fleet in April next year as Columbus 2 . German yards will be hoping for that work too.

Kujawski told The Motorship earlier that Insignia was “in excellent condition and would not need to undergo major constructional changes”. She did however reveal that the existing casino would give way to a dancing area and that a kids and teens club would replace the ship’s card room.

One of the most prestigious cruise ship refurbishments on the German yard scene this summer – of Deutschland - has now been completed as planned at the Bremerhavener Dock (Bredo). The newly-renovated and painted five-star cruise liner left the city in July for a British tour.

Bredo also overhauled and carried out classification work on Halunder Jet, billed as the biggest and most modern catamaran in the region. The work on the 52m long, 36 knot ship was carried out in Bredo’s covered floating dock

Apart from repair and maintenance, the job also covered GL class work which included a Megger test of electrical installations and safety checks. Maintenance was carried out on equipment including life rafts, fire extinguishers and CO2 plant and the air-conditioning plant was overhauled, insulation foil added to windows and the underwater hull cleaned.

In a move to expand ship repair activity away from its cramped Bremerhaven site, Bredo also created a single berth facility in Cuxhaven for short afloat repair and maintenance jobs. It said it was the ideal spot for afloat repair or maintenance en route to or from Hamburg or the Baltic. The 300m long quay is located on 10m of water directly on the Elbe Estuary. Bredo said no tug assistance is required and service is 24 hours a day with crane service on request.

Another yard reportedly in expansive mood is Kröger Werft in Schacht-Audorf, part of the Lürssen Group. Despite being full of luxury yacht newbuilding, a lucrative sector keeping many a medium-sized German yard afloat at present, Kröger was reported keen to further expand its existing repair sector with work on tugs and offshore vessels.

A spokeswoman for the secretive Lürssen noted that the Kröger yard “has been active in the (repair) sector for a long time” but refused details on any projects. That included reported work on the 53m offshore platform supply vessel Noortruck, which has been pictured at Lürssen recently. Reports said she was being re-equipped as a special vessel for wind farm construction. That would indicate that Lürssen - like almost every other German repair facility at present - is interested in opportunities in that sector. No secrets there, then.

Elsewhere there was rare news of the Emder Werft und Dockbetriebe (EWD), which has overhauled the German Navy frigate Sachsen. The EWD ship repair and service facility is all that is now left of the shipbuilding activity of the once big ThyssenKrupp Nordseewerke shipyard, sold to SIAG by ThyssenKrupp in 2009.

Finally, work continues on Swath ships, a speciality of several German yards. Final adjustments were carried out on Skrunda, the first of five 25m Swath patrol boats worth a reported €40 million in total, at Abeking & Rasmussen. She was built by A&R in co-operation with the Riga Shipyard for the Latvian Navy and had been on test trials since her completion in April. There was no immediate word on what final work was needed.


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