Going the extra yard

The yard operatedby Shipdock in Amsterdam has a long history that is closely aligned to that of the city itself. It was incorporated at the beginning of the last century at which time Amsterdam had a healthy rate of new-build activity. As with the rest of Europe though over the years this began to decline, and as such six years ago Shipdock was established as a ship repair yard. The success of the yard has seen Shipdock expand into a second location at Harlingen, also in the Netherlands.

Describing Shipdock’s core areas of activity, Rob Wolthuizen, business development manager, says: “Besides the normal ship repair to commercial vessels which is an ongoing business, we also focus on the offshore market in the UK and the Dutch part of the North Sea. Here there is a lot of offshore construction taking place and all of these vessels have equipment that needs to be maintained, or made ready to be mobilised on jobs. Another specialist area is general conversion of all types of vesselsfrom navy ships to big factory trawlers.”

He continues: “An upcoming niche that we are involved in is the installation of exhaust gas scrubbers to commercial vessels. This is in response to the upcoming IMO legislation whereby ship owners need to comply with certain sulphur emissions in emissioncontrolled areas around the North Sea and Baltic Sea. Shipdock is in fact the first shipyard in the Netherlands to be installing these systems onto a commercial vessel, beginning with the M.V. Plyca. This was the largest installation of its type in Europe to date for a 28,000 kW engine configuration, as well as the first scrubber capable of handling several exhaust gas inlets simultaneously.”

One market area that has been especially strong for Shipdock over the course of the year has been the growth in offshore wind farms. “What we have seen is that some of the jack-up vessels in the market are too small or not well equipped enough for today’s size of wind turbines,” explains Rob. “As such, the owners of these vessels need to modify or upgrade their ships to cope with the increased weight of wind turbine generators or masts. Whilst this may mean installing a heavier crane, you cannot just increase the lifting capacity on such a vessel without doing a lot of restructuring of the main steel body. This is a sector where we have become quite specialised at the moment, and with a lot of megawatts expected to be installed in the North Seaover the next decade we look forward to a bright future in that respect.”

Just recently Shipdock has secured four major contracts for the upgrade and maintenance of these sorts of jack-up vessels. Two of these are from Gulf Marine Services (GMS) for the GMS Endurance and the GMS Endeavour, and the other two belong to UK operator Seajacks – the Seajack Leviathan and Seajack Zaratan. Each of the contracts is for a fairly extensive body of work, which includes tasks such as manufacture, and installation of new crane pedestals, installation of heavier cranes, reinforcement of supporting deck structures, and general mobilisation work. In the case of the GMS Endurance, a self-propelled, self-elevating jack-up barge, the modifications also include the replacement of the existing 160-tonne main crane with a 300-tonne Huisman crane, deck reinforcements, inspection and repair of the jack-up legs, and dry-docking for a extensive hull inspection and bottom repainting.

The award of contracts such as these is testament to the hard work and solid reputation that Shipdock has built up over the years. High quality workmanship, and competitive pricing are part of this, but as Rob explains Shipdock’s strengths extend even further: “With all activities in the offshore sector, there is a lot of attention focused on safety – not only on the whole but from an hour-to-hour or day-to-day perspective. This means that our organisation and personnel within that have to adapt to certain safety procedures and audits, even before Shipdockwe get the enquiry for the work. Another thing that sets us apart is our close relationship with our sister company Niron Staal, which is also located on the premises. They are specialised in steel construction including high-density steels that require strict welding procedures. The company also operates a large machine shop, which enables us to offer a full package of services right from our own site.”

It is this, in combination with the vast store of knowledge and experience accumulated by the business over the years that has made Shipdock a preferred partner in the field of ship repairs and conversions. Accordingly, it is continuing in this role and supporting its long-standing customers, that remains the company’s top priority. “We are still continuing to evolve and develop our ways of working in line with the strict demands of the offshore market. With the new specialities we have developed in emerging niche markets we don’t see any restraints on our ability to continue to grow the company. In particular, we foresee a very good business in scrubber conversions, as only the second shipyard in western Europe, and the first in the Netherlands, to have experience in this type of installation,” concludes Rob.

Repairs and conversions
installation of exhaust scrubbers
Growing in offshore wind