Special properties

When Navnautik was founded in 1990, the Singapore-based firm was a one-man operation by Debabrata Banerjee. It started out as a marine consultancy service providing services to shipyards in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and other neighbouring countries. Over more than two decades, however, it has extended not only its client base to companies across the globe but also its services to include naval architecture, newbuilding supervision and ship conversion design.

Navnautik is a company of 30 today, catering for small and medium sized ships and in particular special purpose vessels using experienced designers and full 3D modelling to achieve the best possible results. Debabrata talks about some of the types of vessels his company has worked on: “Most marine consultants have had a long track record in off the shelf designs so, in order to compete, Navnautik has chosen to tackle designs with specialised applications. These include small LPG gas carriers; bitumen tankers; hydrographic survey vessels of ultra shallow draft; 15,000 deadweight tonne (DWT) copper concentrate integrated tug-barge; shallow draft / low air draft tankers for river navigation; production engineering for a self-propelled jack-up vessel; and even a sub-sea deployment craft for the installation of underwater railway tunnel sections across the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey.”

As the variety of these designs suggests, Navnautik works with many different clients across the broad maritime industry including private companies, individuals, state governments and multinational projects, and with technical databases to provide these clients with designs that are fit for purpose. Its portfolio includes clients from across the world – though it is largely focused on the Middle East and Asia Pacific – and to better serve this wide spread the company has established a second office. The first, its headquarters based in Singapore, is responsible for most services including general administration, marketing, technical proposals, complete design and project management. The second is based in Kolkata, India, and has fewer but equally important responsibilities including detail design of hull structures and outfitting, 3D modelling, and preparation of nesting files for steel processing.

Navnautik is a company always looking to expand the boundaries of what it is capable and lately it has invested itself in two important new vessel types. One is a 75 tonne diesel-electric hybrid tug for use at LNG terminals, a design that challenged the company’s ability to compact state-of-the-art design into a functionally small space. The other new type of ship it has approached is a deep-sea pipe layer. Requirements stated it must not only withstand deep-sea environments but also be ice-classed and capable of heavy lift applications. Navnautik successfully produced this design and included a host of cutting edge features including DP3 capability, multi-lay system for rigid and non-rigid pipelines, V3 comfort class, and 3000 metric tonne heavy lift cane with active heave compensation (AHC).

“Apart from vessel design and ship conversion, Navnautik provides customised solutions to operators,” Debabrata adds. “For example we converted a flat top barge to have ramps, be mounted with asphalt tanks and carry road tankers on board. This provided a cost effective supply solution to the construction of the 2500 kilometre North-South Expressway along the narrow coastline of Vietnam. The barges were topped up offshore by bitumen tankers and then were able to relocate on the coast within 200 kilometres of any road in the country. This was an essential asset in the road construction.”

Other conversions undertaken by Navnautik include a 6500 DWT product tanker into an asphalt carrier for Link-Highway Shipping, a 130,000 DWT ore-bulk-oil carrier into a straightforward tanker, lengthening of Dockwise NV’s Super Servant 4 vessel by 30 metres, and a number for Sarku engineering to expand the people carrying capacity of its fleet. It even does minor works such as replacement of hatch covers (Freeport Indonesia Inc), modification on the plough deployment (Rockwater Offshore Contractors), and fire risk analysis on a VLCC (Esso International Shipping).

Navnautik’s greatest advantage has always been the small size of its operation. From the outset when just Debabrata himself undertook all the work to today’s staff roster of 30 across two international offices. The small size presents a number of advantages such as internal efficiency, attention to customer and to detail, and the flexibility to present customised solutions with a relatively brief turnaround time. As illustrated, these strengths have led Navnautik to having a busy work schedule. Plenty of design and conversion opportunities have been grasped by the company over the last 18 months, and its role as a leading special purpose vessel designer means it is partially shielded from the dropping rates of newbuilds for common vessels such as tankers and bulk carriers.

Looking forwards, Debabrata sets out new projects and what the company expects of itself over the next five years: “We are currently in the development stage of a DP2 offshore construction, small water plane twin hull (SWATH) vessel capable of carrying up to 400 men. It will be equipped with a 150 tonne crane complying with SPS 2008 standards. Beyond that, looking five years down the line, Navnautik wants to stay as small and effective as it has always been and continue looking to meet owners that dare venture into innovative solutions such as ours.”

Specialist design and conversion
Worldwide client portfolio
Small, flexible company