Subsea Expo

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Fugro's New Build Survey Vessel

12 March 2010

Fugro formally took delivery of a new-build survey vessel, the M/V Fugro Searcher, which it commissioned in 2007. Fugro took the opportunity to look at all aspects of overall survey vessel design in detail and install the latest equipment, making it the most advanced vessel of its type in the world.

The vessel will operate in the offshore oil and gas industry and the offshore renewable energy sector. It will be able to carry out the full range of site and route survey tasks to obtain the high resolution data necessary for safe, efficient and cost-effective planning, design and engineering activities involving the seabed and the installation of pipelines, platforms, wind turbines, subsea structures and other seabed furniture. The new vessel will have permanently mobilised geophysical and hydrographic survey spreads. Geotechnical equipment will be installed on a project by project basis.

This new-build is the first purpose-built commercial geophysical survey vessel since the Lady Harrison (renamed Antares) was built back in 1984.

Geophysical survey equipment will include Kongsberg EM302 and EM3002 multibeam echo sounder and a Kongsberg EA600 single beam echo sounder. It will also have an Edgetech dual frequency 4200 digital sidescan sonar. It will be fitted with a hull-mounted Kongsberg SBP300 sub bottom profiler. Other geophysical survey sensors can be mobilised for specific projects. All ancillary and calibration instrumentation will be available.

A seismic airgun array of up to 970 cu. cm. will be used to generate seismic energy to be reflected by the subsurface sedimentary rock layers and picked up by a solid digital streamer extending up to 4000m behind the vessel. The seismic data will be recorded on a Hydroscience Technologies NTRS2 240-channel recorder.

A variety of geotechnical equipment such as vibrocorers, grab samplers and cone penetrometers are also available. For survey operations in deep water, the vessel has the necessary deck space to accommodate any of Fugroís autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) spreads. At the back of the vessel stands an articulating A-frame for equipment deployment which is rated to 7.5t. Additionally, it has a 3t, 12m crane as well as a pair of 2.25t traversing deployment booms.

The Fugro vessel will derive precise positioning via Fugroís high precision Starfix HP/XP and Starfix Spot DGPS which will be integrated with a HiPAP 500 USBL subsea acoustic system. It will also have an Applanix PosMV 320 motion reference unit.

The vessel will be conned with a range of bridge instruments including autopilot, radars, a GPS navigator, gyros and echo sounders. It will have automatic static station keeping capabilities. Communications systems include broadband via VSAT, medium/high frequency radios, Inmarsat B and C, VHF and weather forecasting radios.

A major feature of the new vessel is that it takes advantage of all the safety and efficiency advances in ship design that have been made in recent years. The latest safety and survival systems are a fundamental and integral part of the vesselís equipment. Personal Locator Beacons and direction finding equipment are worn during back beck operations.

While the speed of geophysical surveys is dictated largely by the laws of physics, the top speed of 12.8kts ensures that the vessels can get to the site quickly. A fuel capacity of 387m3 gives a range of 6000 nautical miles at 10 knots. Range and endurance are thereby optimal and time on site maximised. The vessel has a fresh water storage capacity of 100m3 and there are facilities for making 8m3 /of fresh water per day.

The diesel electric propulsion is based on three 910kW engines. The vessel will be driven by 2 x Schottel, SRP 110 rudder propellers while type 49/122/290 bow thrusters enable manoeuvring and station keeping. Computer control will enable the vessel to automatically remain static over a designated spot or follow an ROV as it conducts its survey work.

The specially designed hull form, resilient engine mounts and rudder propeller design maximise station keeping and navigational control, ensure acoustically quiet running at survey speeds and keep the vesselís carbon footprint to a minimum. The vesselís sea keeping qualities enable it to stay on location, minimising weather standby time.

There is ample space in the 65m long vessel for work and recreation. Accommodation is provided for 42 people in en-suite single and double cabins. Recreation areas include two lounges, video room, gym and internet cafe. A first class working environment is ensured for survey and marine crew members alike.

Several 10GBaseT networks will provide the survey systems with full plug-and-play interconnectivity, allowing any user multiple access points to any data acquisition and data processing requirement.

There is a data processing room that allows the data to be interpreted onboard without it having to be transmitted to shore. This is essential for time sensitive applications where prompt access to survey results is essential to keep to the critical path of the development or project.