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    Converts flock to cable ship market

    Vessel & ROV News // August 25, 2000
    The market for cable laying ships is clearing booming, every month seeming to bring a fresh round of orders for newbuildings or conversions, and demand for cable laying, of both telecommunications and conventional and fibre optic types, is running at a high level on the back of a boom in global communications projects.

    Among the latest orders are newbuilds for two ships for Louis Dreyfus Armateurs and Alcatel at Hyundai Mipo in Korea, a contract that includes an option for two more ships.

    At the end of July, a pair of cable layers at Keppel Hitachi Zosen in Singapore for CS Tycom Reliance, a subsidiary of Tyco Submarine Systems Ltd (TSSL), a contract which includes options for four more ships.

    One of Korea's largest yards, Hanjin Heavy Industries (HHI) has won a contract to build two cable ships for France Telecom Marine, and in Europe, Ulstein Vaerft is to build two cable laying/maintenance ships for Solstad Rederi. Another Norwegian yard, Brattvaag, is to build a cable ship for District Offshore using a hull fabricated in Romania.

    Ship design consultants Vik-Sandvik in Norway have recently completed design work on a number of cable layers, both newbuilds and conversions.These include Eidesvik's Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) Viking Lady, which is currently undergoing conversion at AESA's Cadiz yard in Spain under a five-year contract with Caldwell Cable ventures Inc, and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs newbuilds at HHI.

    Arnfinn Ingjerd, Communications Manager at Rolls-Royce Marine, which now owns Vickers Ulstein Marine, says one of the latest cable vessels built based on a UT design will join Rovde Supply's fleet in September.

    The hull of this UT746C was built in Romania and it is being completed in Norway at Soviknes Verft. The owner has a long-term contract with CTC Marine projects for cable laying and maintenance work.

    The UT746C is a development of the UT746 PSV, which itself is based on the well known UT745. At 95.4m in length with a breadth of 18.8m, the newbuilding has a pair of tunnel thrusters forward and two more aft, supplemented by a swing-up thruster at the bow.

    This highly manoeuvrable design also has high lift rudders to make her even more manoeuvrable, and also has a high bollard pull - some 150 tonnes.

    The main deck area is occupied by the cabling laying gear, the accommodation is arranged forward, and the below-decks area is given over to two large cable tanks, each capable of storing 4,000 tonnes of fibre optic cable. A high transit speed of 16kt will ensure that the ship makes good progress between jobs.

    US-based Caldwell Cable Ventures will enter the market for deep-water cable installation shortly, when it takes delivery of the Viking Lady. She is currently at AESA's Cadiz shipyard being lengthened by more than 12m with a new section amidships.

    A new accommodation block is also being fitted, and a new cable laying deck is being built below the accommodation decks. A new thruster is being installed in order to enhance manoeuvrability, and two cable tanks have been installed in way of the seconddeck with spare tank and rope/cable tanks in way of the first.

    When the Viking Lady starts work she will carry 5,000t of cable. She also has a new A frame, Hydralift cable laying equipment and a Soil Machine Dynamics cable plough that can work at depths of up to 1,500m.

    Global Marine Systems, one of the largest of all cable laying companies, completed the acquisition of its latest cable layers in May, one of five new ships to join its rapidly expanding fleet.

    At the beginning of last year, Global Marine Systems owned a dozen cable laying/maintenance vessels and a couple of barges. However, by January of next year, it will own and operate a total of 24 ships and three barges, a rapid expansion made possible largely as a result of conversions.

    Global Marine Systems says ordering newbuildings it would have taken a minimum of 14-16 months to get them into service, says Project Manager Phil Stringer; having acquired four ships to convert, plus a fifth on charter, the acquisitions will enter service in less than half that time.

    Global Marine Systems turned to British ship repair yard Cammell Laird to convert the quartet of cable maintenance ships it acquired - the ro-ro ships Kraka and Lobrog, acquired from Scandlines and re-named Wave Venture and Wave Mercury; the ro-ro IslandCommodore (now Wave Sentinel); and the offshore service vessel CSO Installer, now re-named Wave Alert. All were being converted into stern-working vessels.

    Wave Venture and Wave Mercury were delivered in January of this year. As Global Marine Systems explains, the ro-ros were already well suited to conversion, having partially covered decks, twin azimuthing stern thrusters, and extensive accommodation.

    Three new gensets were installed to provide additional on board power, along with a new switchboard, and two bow thrusters were added. A trio of 14m diameter cable tanks was installed at tanktop level, along with new cable laying machinery. An A frame, craneage, and equipment used to deploy a ROV was also installed.

    Wave Sentinel was purchased from Commodore Shipping and the vessel was converted to a stern-working cable maintenance and installation vessel, leaving Cammell Laird in March.

    She too was upgraded with more generator sets, and three more thrusters were added, one forward and two aft. A trio of 15m cable tanks was installed, and the accommodation was extended to provide space for 60. Most of the ship's electronics were upgradedtoo, and a DP system was installed.

    In May, Global Marine Systems took delivery of the Wave Alert from Cammell Laird. During her conversion, more than 400 tonnes of steel was added to the vessel to create cable tanks, stores and working spaces, and a new 30-tonne 'A' frame was fitted, along with new gensets.

    In its former life, Wave Alert saw service as a an offshore service vessel - carrying out a variety of tasks, including cable laying - so she was already well equipped for the task with three thrusters forward and three aft and a decent level of installed power.

    Also, now part of the growing Global Marine Systems fleet is the cable layer Bold Endurance, on a time charter from Secunda Marine Services in Canada.

    Secunda had the conversion work carried out at Hyundai Mipo in Korea, a yard that is now constructing newbuilds for the fast growing cable laying community.

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