Rolls-Royce has embarked on a number of projects to refit and convert technologically advanced offshore vessels for other uses, such as aquaculture, expedition craft, and luxury yachts.
The move comes as a response to the profusion of laid-up offshore and platform supply vessels, casualties of the low oil price which has crushed Norway’s oil exploration industry. “These are high end vessels which can be adapted to new segments,” said RR’s sales manager of Advanced Offerings Tore Sveen Søreide, illustrating his point using aquaculture. “As aquaculture goes further offshore you need more engine power, better seakeeping and more dynamic positioning capability; offshore vessels are built for these conditions already!” RR’s conversion service comprises two streams: RR’s own vessel designs, and a second service for third-party designs. “There are around 800 Rolls Royce UT vessels, of which the UT 755 is by far the most popular,” says Søreide.
In a recent third-party example, the converted vessel Boskalis F3000 Project was supplied with two 4.8MW Rolls-Royce Bergen diesel gensets, four UL355FP 3.5mw retractable thrusters, commissioning, turnkey and engineering resources, in order to transform it into a windfarm support vessel. "The vessel is now being finished at Keppel. Offshore vessels are very adaptable into this segment." With the various below-deck tanks removed and propulsion converted to diesel-electric, up to 2530m3 of extra space could be created, and could also be repurposed to carry live fish or feed. “The vessel could also be converted to a factory at sea, for example, for packaging the fish on board once they are caught” Søreide suggested.
Further space could be created by adding another deck, although “RR would need to do some additional work on stability calculations." RR is examining proposals for many different uses, including interest expressed by one shipowner in repurposing a UT-512-model vessel into a polar expedition yacht. “Some yacht owners would like to go to Antarctica – offshore vessels can tackle very rough weather, and many of them are ice classed,” said Søreide.
Another plan is for a PSV converted into an ROV support vessel with the addition of a crane, and Søreide suggests there may be may be new life for OSVs in the wind market, or opportunities for Anchor Handling Tugs (AHTS) to be refitted as cable-layers. "Anchor handling is a towing vessel - that means they have more controllable forward and they have more power. For cable-laying an anchor-handler would be ideal." “There are many projects on the drawing board right now. Many offshore owners are wants to talk to us about other markets. When you do conversions it also means you’re removing tonnage from the offshore industry."