When the DOF Subsea light intervention vessel arrived in St. John’s on Canada Day, Kirk Stead, the company’s Canadian general manager, stood at Fort Amherst waving a Canadian flag tied to a hockey stick.
The province’s capital city will be the vessel’s home port for the next decade, with a year-to-year option for an additional 10 years.
“I’ve been in this business a long time, and 10-year charters do not come along very often, not only for DOF in Canada, but for DOF globally,” Stead said following a media tour of the company’s newest ship, which is replacing the Atlantic Osprey, which concluded its contract in July.
“This is a very big and important contract for us and we’re very thankful to Husky for giving us this chance.”
As such, DOF spared no expense in sourcing its components. The engines and propulsion systems are built by Rolls Royce, the remotely operated vehicles and accompanying technology comes from Schilling Robotics in the United States and its massive knuckle boom crane was built by National Oilwell Varco, a world leader.
“A lot of this stuff we chose because it’s proven equipment and we’ve used it on other ships in the past,” says Stead.
“You’re looking for reliability in these things. When they break down, it’s not a good thing, neither financially nor operationally for our clients.”
Master Keith Leonard, one of the ship’s two captains, is quick to laud the thought and design that went into the vessel.
“The detail that was put in there that will allow us to accomplish our operations safely and efficiently is top-notch and I believe second to none,” Leonard says.
The Skandi Vinland’s primary role as a support vessel is to supply inspection, maintenance and repair services, but the scope of work and Husky’s requirements for a vessel led DOF to opt for a from-scratch build versus retrofitting an existing ship.
“The capability of towing icebergs, not really required anywhere else in the world, only in offshore Newfoundland, I think. We had to make it fit so that it didn’t look like an add-on.
“The same is true with the crane. Husky required a certain capacity of crane and certain features in that crane, like active heave compensation.”
Towing icebergs is something of a misnomer. It’s more redirecting using a dedicated towing winch with a 100-tonne capacity and an iceberg net that’s used to encircle the berg and change its course by a couple of degrees.
Chief officer Dave Evans says it’s similar to shooting a seine for fishing.
“You basically come in alongside, put a messenger line out and you go around the berg, reconnect and connect it to your tow wire and then put out your appropriate length, depending on the size, and basically put some power on here and usually the rigs will give you a course.”
The main function of the Skandi Vinland, however, is as home for a pair of heavy-duty remotely operated vehicles (ROV) that will be used for all subsea operations in the White Rose oilfield.
Unlike other support vessels where the ROVs are generally housed on the deck, exposing man and machine to the harsh elements of the North Atlantic, the Skandi Vinland was built with a hangar with doors on either side of the vessel that fold out to allow for a frame to be extended over the water so the ROVs can be deployed.
ROV technician Dan Sweeney says the hangar is a bonus for both technician and the ROVs, valued at approximately $10 million apiece.
“We don’t have to work on the back deck in the freezing rain or the pouring rain anymore, which also benefits the systems when we’re doing the electronic work,” Sweeney says.
“You still get a bit of a draft when both doors are open, but it’s nothing compared to working on the back deck.”
The machines are piloted from a nearby room called the online room, where a team of four sits in front of a wall of screens displaying dozens of angles from cameras on the ROVs, around the hangar and the areas of operation.
ROV superintendent Peter Pilon, who leads a team of 24 that he calls “the hands and eyes of the oilfield,” says the equipment is state-of-the-art.
“A lot of us have worked for DOF for over 10 years, we’re used to the Norwegian sector, the North Sea sector, and this is the standard that DOF has over there and now it’s here,” he says.
Just up from the online room is the offline room, where engineers observe the ROVs and provide directions and instructions on how to manipulate the valves and various other subsea assets.
The Skandi Vinland was also designed to be environmentally friendly. Stead says thanks to its diesel electric design propulsion system, it’ll burn less than half the fuel than older vessels with traditional systems.
“So in certain situations you don’t need a lot, you can shut down some of the engines and thereby save a tremendous amount of fuel,” he says.
“That’s good for the environment and good for costs for Husky.”
But it’s not just highly functional from a technical standpoint. The crew, to a man, will gush about the creature comforts and amenities available during their 28-day rotations.
There’s Wi-Fi throughout, every cabin has its own television with independent receiver and there are multiple lounges, a spacious galley and a full gymnasium. There’s also something called comfort glass.
“Even as operations are happening outside, noise is always reduced inside, which allows for sleeping and hours of rest, which also relates back to safety,” says Leonard, who will hand over control of the vessel to Brian Riggs and his crew for another 28-day rotation.
The Vinland is scheduled to leave port on Thursday.
Skandi Vinland at a glance:
• Built in 2017 by VARD in Norway
• Length: 93.2 metres
• Breadth: 20m
• Draught: 6m
• Gross tonnage: 5,859
• Deadweight tonnage: 2,970
• Top speed: 15-plus knots (sea trials)
• Crew: 38 per rotation (18 marine crew, 12 ROV, 8 Husky/third party contractors)
• 100 per cent Canadian crew, all but two are Newfoundlanders
• Accommodates: 55