The pioneering Bibby WaveMaster 1, the first of Damen’s purpose-built Service Operations Vessels (SOV) with Walk-to-Work (W2W) capability, was officially launched at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania on 24 March.

When completed, Bibby Marine Services Limited, part of Bibby Line Group, will deploy the vessel to support forthcoming offshore wind construction and O&M projects in the North Sea.

Stephen Blaikie, Chief Executive Officer, Bibby Marine Services Ltd, said, “This is an important key milestone in the delivery of the vessel. Sea trials will start soon and we will take delivery in August. We are very impressed with the quality of the build and the whole process has gone smoothly.”

Peter Robert, Director Business Development & Market Intelligence at Damen says, “I am honestly convinced that Damen has designed and built the best vessel for the tasks envisaged and which is going to be available on the market as of end of August this year. The combination of Damen and Bibby brings together a significant amount of knowledge, which has resulted in some impressive innovation.

“Carrying out the integrated HIL simulator analyses of the vessel +DP system + gangway system, in a time domain simulation with the actual controllers connected to it proves, in real life conditions, safe operations in the 2.5m Hs required by the tenders – the only vessel currently able to achieve this in fact. Based on this the shipowner can guarantee site specific vessel performance and safe operations.”

Bibby WaveMaster 1 is built specifically for the transfer and accommodation of offshore personnel and aims to maximise working time, technician comfort and safety. The design incorporates the philosophies of Damen’s E3 principle – Efficiency in operation, Environmentally friendly and Economically viable.

Equipped with DYNPOS (AUTR) DP2, the 90m vessel has a motion compensated access system (Walk-to-Work). During the construction process, Damen has continued to work closely with the client in customising the vessel in order to give it multi-sector versatility. This has included, for example, adjusting the design of the elevator to the W2W gangway.

This now has six landings, meaning that technicians can directly access the gangway from the warehouse areas with a ‘stepless approach’. A helideck, daughter craft and CTV landings (with refueling) complement the vessel’s versatility.

Also upgrading the vessel’s workrole flexibility, Damen has increased the POB to 90, from the 60 envisioned by the standard design.

Taking into account the trend for wind farms to go farther from the shore in more challenging seas, the customised design provides fast, safe and comfortable access to turbines, and at a lower cost, , including in worst case scenario severe Central North Sea conditions. This results in a vessel capable of providing turbine access up to 3.1 metre Hs. The Damen SOV is able to remain at sea for periods of up to one month at a time.

During the two-year design and build period, when Damen and Bibby worked very closely together, a lot of attention has been paid to crew comfort on board the vessel.