Bourbon Christens Bourbon Orca

Monday, June 26, 2006
Bourbon Orca (Ulstein AX104) is an AHTS (Anchor Handling Tug Supply Vessel) and the latest of the modern offshore oil and gas marine service vessels christened recently in Aalesund, Norway. Bourbon Orca, soon to work under contract with Norsk Hydro, is the result of a collaboration between Bourbon Offshore, Ulstein Design and ODIM, which specializes in marine automated systems.

In contrast to most existing vessels, on which the bridge projects above the level of the sea, the Bourbon Orca offers the benefits of a revolutionary design with an inverted bow (the trademark Ulstein X-BOW).

"Thinking outside the box is a credo at Ulstein Design, a credo that we work to translate into action. However, it is not enough to think new; we need to work with marine companies that are bold enough to dare to become involved and innovate with us. Bourbon Offshore Norway has shown us that it belongs to this group of pioneers, because it was immediately enthusiastic and participated with the completion of this innovative project," said Tore Ulstein, Chief Executive Officer of Ulstein Design A.S.

This design is reported to improve the stability, fluidity and maneuverability of the vessel, allowing it to operate at higher cruising speeds under difficult conditions. It substantially minimizes the pitching, slamming and vibrations of the running vessel.

When the vessel is in a dynamic position, the shape of the bottom limits the effects of eddies and banging. As a result, the Bourbon Orca will be able to operate under very difficult sea conditions, particularly in the North Sea.

"We were truly excited about the design of this vessel and the tank trials showed us that this hull offers exceptional advantages over traditional hulls," said Trond Myklebust, Managing Director of Bourbon Offshore Norway. "In addition to the fact that it reduces fuel consumption, this hull improves onboard comfort, offering the crews greater safety and rest. In choosing this type of vessel, we are setting a radically new standard for the future of offshore supply vessels.” From the beginning of this project, Bourbon Offshore Norway, strongly encouraged by Statoil, partnered with Ulstein Design and ODIM to develop a solution to improve personnel safety on the rear deck of the vessel. This collaboration produced the SAHS System (Safe Anchor Handling System) which eliminates any human presence on the after deck of the vessel during the most dangerous operations to ensure optimum protection of the crews.

The rear deck is equipped with two powerful mobile cranes equipped with articulated grappling hooks, a control system and a remote activated video surveillance system, as well as a mobile anchor handling platform system to replace the traditional stern roller. In order to respect one of BOURBON’s major commitments–to respect the environment, the Bourbon Orca is equipped with diesel-electric propulsion. This vessel will be the first AHTS to be equipped with this solution, combined with azimuth thrusters.

This technology, combined with the hull design, significantly reduces gas and toxic emissions and ensures significant fuel savings. While with a conventional propulsion system, the engines of an AHTS run continuously, with this type of propulsion, only the energy needed is consumed, generating both economic and environmental benefits.

When discussing the commissioning of this new vessel, Christian Lefèvre, Deputy CEO of Bourbon and Managing Director of the Offshore Division, said: "Safety is a priority for Bourbon. With the Bourbon Orca, we are revolutionizing the standards for modern offshore oil and gas service vessels. This vessel offers better safety performance, but also better environmental performance and energy consumption, which gives Bourbon a real competitive advantage in the sector."

The SAHS System

The ODIM system is a concrete implementation of the Bourbon QHSE (Quality, Health, Safety and Environment) system.

From the beginning of this project, Bourbon Offshore Norway, strongly encouraged by the Statoil oil company, partnered with Ulstein and ODIM (a recognized hydraulic solutions supplier) in order to develop a solution to improve personnel safety on the after deck of the vessel. This collaboration produced the SAHS System (Safe Anchor Handling System) which eliminates any human presence on the after deck of the vessel during the most dangerous operations.

The after deck is equipped with two powerful mobile cranes equipped with articulated grappling hooks, a control system and a remote activated video surveillance system, as well as a mobile anchor handling platform system to replace the traditional stern roller. As a result, no member of the crew is on the after deck, which prevents any risk from handling equipment or a cable failure.

“Everyone agrees that the risks are much too high in this type of operation; this is why we decided to change things with this vessel,” said Myklebust. The SAHS system is the result of the highly technical study conducted at the local level by operators that are very much the leaders in the market. We were inspired by Statoil's invitation to develop safer anchor handling operations. As a result, in partnership with ODIM and Ulstein Design, we developed a radically different concept," he said. “We relied on the expertise and experience of captains, seamen, crane operators and platform managers and on the expertise of our partners. Thanks to the pool of marine activity based in northwest Norway, a foundation allowed the development of solid innovative projects in partnership with other companies. With the crucial support of the Norwegian Research Council, we achieved a result which, we believe, will revolutionize anchor handling safety.”

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