Time for change

Located in one of Germany’s most important maritime hubs, Bremerhaven, Lloyd Werft is an internationally renowned shipyard that has offered newbuilding, repair and conversion services for more than a century. In recent years it has gained respect for working on ships such as the Queen Elizabeth II, Costa Victoria and Norwegian Sky, providing these and its other clients with a worldleading combination of short docking times, fast project engineering and top quality craftsmanship.

Earlier this year the yard began conversion work on the OIG Giant II, formerly the CombiDock IV, which was one of Lloyd Werft’s own newbuilds. The yard’s managing director Rüdiger Pallentin talks more about the project: “The vessel arrived in early August and at the moment sits in our floating dock. We built it for the former owners CombiLift back in January 2010 as a heavy lift docking ship but are now converting it into an offshore services vessel. It will serve Offshore Installation Group (OIG), a new joint venture between Harren & Partner and Goldman Sachs that is listed in Norway. The Giant II will serve offshore activities, especially in the renewable energy sector installing windmills and underwater turbines, pipe laying, cable-laying and other activities.

“Our work involves making a lot of structural changes to the OIG Giant II. First, we are installing an additional accommodation block with capacity for about 80 people that will be located toward the front end of the existing cargohold. We also recently took delivery of and installed a helicopter platform onto the fore deck. A moonpool opening in the double bottom has been created so they can lift objects down through the hull and into the water. Furthermore, OIG Giant II will get an additional stern and aft thrusters in order to gain a DP-2 classed system to make it as flexible and reliable as possible.”

Because Lloyd Werft was responsible for the vessel’s building it was already familiar with the ship, which gave it a head start when approaching conversion work. Nonetheless every project faces its own set of obstacles and the OIG Giant II is no exception. One of the biggest is the short time deadline that needed to be met, with the order being placed in April for a project to be completed and delivered by the first half of October. With many different components including thrusters, helipad, accommodation blocks and electricals all having to be delivered from different suppliers, this presented a major challenge.

Lloyd Werft has been able to stay on top of the workload, however, because of the flexibility of its infrastructure and facilities as well as previous experience gained carrying out similar conversion work on the OIG Giant II’s sister vessel, Blue Giant. The yard’s standard workforce counts approximately 400 people across all departments but in times of necessity, with a strong local human resources network, it can increase its effective manpower to more than 2000 people. With 260,000 square metres of space, it also has plenty of scope for bringing in vessels without overloading the yard. These factors, combined with the yard’s experience and efficient project management systems, have helped ensure the

OIG Giant II conversion remains on time and on budget for its owners. The OIG Giant II is just one of Lloyd Werft’s many projects in a highly competitive climate. As a yard proficient in both newbuildings and conversions, it has fared well throughout the recession and ensuing upward struggle still faced by the industry. This has been particularly marked by the difficulty of winning funding from banks for newbuilds. Such a fall in new constructions has led many yards across Europe to sidestep into repairs and conversions even if they previously had no experience of such work and so making Lloyd Werft work harder to maintain its workload. Nonetheless, the Bremerhaven yard has done well.

“The number of projects has been more or less stable with about 400 over the course of this year, and of this 400 we have successfully won about 15 per cent, which I think is quite a good ratio,” explains Rüdiger. “There are still interesting drydock, repair and conversion projects in the pipeline but newbuilding is definitely quiet at themoment. However that has never been our core market. At the moment we have signed for refit work on two passenger ships to be delivered in November or December as well as drydocking German research vessel Polarstern, expected in October.”

Clearly Lloyd Werft remains in good health. Rüdiger concludes with a firm outlook on the future: “In the short-term we see our future clearly in vessel conversion and hope to expand into passenger ferries, where we see a rapidly growing demand. The good aspect in such ships is that they are constantly changing and so are a regular source of work for yards such as ours. ROPAX ships are also growing in demand for conversion work. Our core business in the future will be drydock, repairs and conversions and maybe if there are opportunities for newbuild we will take those too.”

Major conversion project for OIG
Highly skilled at drydock, repair and conversion tasks
Incredibly flexible infrastructure