Mixed fortunes in German yards as offshore booms

01 May 2012
Renewal order gives Sietas breathing space

Renewal order gives Sietas breathing space

Tom Todd relates a story of mixed fortunes currently in German newbuilding with some yards busy and prospering while others struggle to find work and stay afloat. Proving a blessing is offshore work, specifically tough wind power transport and installation newbuildings and yards continue to switch production to join in the boom.

The latest to look at diversification is Flensburger Schiffbaugesellschaft (FSG), which survived Asian competition in the 1990s by switching from series container to ro-ro and ro-pax building. It has led this market ever since.

Declaring now that “the future of the shipyard rests in its versatility” FSG is diversifying again. It has just booked an order from Holland’s Rolldock for its first ever multi-functional project-load ships. The two 151.5m, 8,000dwt, 16knot diesel-electric newbuildings are for delivery in 2014 and further orders are tipped.

FSG continues to score with its innovative designs and the new project-load vessels boast three very different cargo handling modes. Possible are crane handling for items up to 700t, adjustable ro-ro stern ramps - adaptable to quay height and for individual cargo up to 3,000t - and finally 12m submersible capability for cargo float-in and out.

FSG has actually already taken a first small step into offshore by creating German Offshore in December - a co-operative venture with Nobiskrug in Rendsburg. Nobiskrug has access to docks for 60m-400m products at the former HDW Gaarden up the Kiel Canal in Kiel because both are now part of Abu Dhabi Mar. FSG said “We want to bundle competences… offering highly specialised products and services”.

The latest order for FSG came just two months after it booked a 19,500dwt con-ro newbuild for Oceanex in Canada – no stranger to FSG. The newbuild is described as the world’s most eco-friendly con-ro ship. The yard is also completing a series of freight ro-ros for Seatruck in Britain and has six other ro-ro newbuilds still on its books.

MD Peter Sierk said: “we want to remain the number one on the ro-ro market”. However, he stressed that, with classical markets declining “it is imperative for the survival of a modern yard that it offers new ideas”.

Also chalking up offshore success this year was Hamburg’s troubled Sietas shipyard. An order from van Oord for a 6,500dwt wind power transport and installation ship, held up when Sietas declared itself insolvent last year, has been renewed.

Receiver Berthold Brinkmann said the ship was “a bridge into a new future” for the yard and a “first in Germany”. He added it “points the way forward for Sietas and German shipbuilding”. Despite this, however, 350 yard employees are still losing their jobs up to May because of the poor order situation.

The 139m long, 12 knot Dutch jack-up vessel and self loader, boasting a 900t NMF offshore crane, is for delivery early next year and there is an option on a second such vessel. The work will keep Sietas busy for a while as it seeks investment partners and order recovery.

Just delivered is the 99.9m long ferry Lolland to Danish owner Sydfynske. The Sietas type 185 double-ender, reportedly costing about €20million, is of 4.780gt and for 600 passengers and 120 cars on 624 lane-metres. She was being followed by a sister Langeland A third ship was originally planned but it was not known if it would be ordered.

Struggling Nordic Yards, in Wismar and Warnemuende, now has an order for a third offshore converter platform for Siemens. The SylWin Alpha platform will follow BorWin Beta and HelWin1, being built for operation by year-end and early 2013.

In useful service after completion at the BVT yard in Bremerhaven is yet another offshore related newbuilding - the 8,850dwt offshore pontoon Offshore BHV 1 for the BLG Group. That 70m x 32m unit has a smooth deck and four tracks as well as a quay coupling system to enable the roll-on and off of heavy offshore components like 60m high wind turbine tripods weighing up to 900t.

P+S Werften, in Stralsund and Wolgast, also has big offshore vessels on order but alongside a range of conventional newbuilding orders. Late last year it put their value at €1.1billion. Due 3 May was the double naming of Scandlines’ two 169m ferryship newbuildings Berlin and Copenhagen.  Berlin had originally been due into Baltic service late March but the yard said it postponed proceedings in order to show off both 1600 lane-metre ships simultaneously.

In comment to The Motorship a spokeswoman denied media reports the postponement had anything to do with building problems. Whatever the reason, the delay will surely have cost Scandlines two months of earnings and perhaps also idled some new facilities in Gedser and Rostock.

In June P+S delivers a 113m long, 606TEU ice-breaking container and supply ship to Royal Arctic Line. She is the first and biggest of five ships to serve Greenland and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic and carries two cargo cranes and has a 7,860kW main engine. RAL spokesman Jakob Strøm told The Motorship two further 71m, 108TEU newbuilds would be ready August and October. The final two ships, for delivery November and December, are of a completely new type for unsecured coastal settlements. Just 45m long, they will carry 36TEU and have a cargo crane each, and 1,040kW engines.

For delivery in July and October by P+S are two unusual 195.2m ro-ro ships for DFDS worth €128million and ordered under a German-Danish military transport co-operation contract. DFDS spokesman Gert Jakobsen told The Motorship they were driven by MAN 8S 40 ME-B9 diesels of 9,080kW and had 3,000 lane-metres for freight as well as room for 342TEU. They will “provide transport capacity for military equipment when needed. When not serving the military, they will work as normal ro-ro ships”, he said.

Many small German facilities are staying busy with specialist but often unreported ferry, workboat, yacht and other newbuilding work.

Schiffswerft Bolle on the Upper Elbe is one of them. It has just built the 34.87m ferry Dat Ole Land 11 for local ferry owners. Bolle has also just completed the versatile 23.9m workboat Blexen for service on the Weser for Bremerhaven authorities. Lux Werft on the Rhine has just turned out the impressive 68m, 600 passenger Kristallkönigin - the latest in a series of big Rhine ferries. In Lemwerder, Abeking & Rasmussen was completing Cesis the second of five identical 25.7m Swath patrol boats for the Latvian Navy. Earlier the yard delivered Groden, the last of five similar Swath tenders for German Bight pilot service.

Nobiskrug leads the field in the clearly lucrative but often secretive world of private yacht building. The Rendsburg ADM yard delivered its fifth luxury yacht newbuilding in early March. Reports said the 73.5m long, 1585gt Mogambo is driven by two MTU 16-cylinder diesels. Two further yachts were reported under build on the slips at Nobiskrug and a third in the yard’s 160m long building dock. The reports also said the yard was providing design documents for a 140m private yacht which would be the biggest in the world and would be built at ADM Kiel.

Peters Werft in Wewelsfleth was also reported building a 101m luxury yacht but would say nothing about it. Finally, in Bremerhaven, even Lloydwerft admitted it cannot live on repair alone. Despite existing diversification into offshore repair work, it said it was looking for yacht newbuilding work. The yard proved itself in 2010 by building the 115m Luna, one of the largest explorer yachts. “We want to build on that success” said LWB MD Rüdiger Pallentin.

Meyer Werft spokesman Peter Hackmann told The Motorship RCC had converted an option secured last year for a second 158,000gt ‘Project Sunshine’ cruise newbuilding. The two are costing a reported €1.4billion.

Delivered meanwhile was the equally impressive 130,000gt Disney Fantasy. She follows sister Disney Dream, handed over in 2010. The 18-deck giants are driven by three 12-cylinder and two 14-cylinder MAN V48/60CR diesels and two 19MW Converteam motors providing 23.5 knots. Still also for delivery from Papenburg in May is the 71,300gt AIDAmar followed by the 122,000gt Celebrity Reflection in autumn.

According to Mr Hackmann, the Disney ships are the biggest built so far at Meyer. However, that changes in Spring 2014 with the delivery to NCL of Norwegian Breakaway, the first of two 143,500gt newbuildings together worth about €1.2billion. And it changes yet again in autumn of that year when the first of the ‘Project Sunshine’ ships is handed over. Mr Hackmann said the second will follow in 2015.

Neptun in Warnemünde has meanwhile delivered Viking Odin, the first of six 135m long luxury river cruise ships. Five more for Viking are for delivery up to the autumn and unofficial reports said there was now talk of increasing the number to 10 for delivery up to 2014. Neptun also had two further 135m river cruisers on its books. A-Rosa Silva was being delivered by summer this year and A-Rosa Flora early next year.

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