Shiprepair & Maintenance: 2nd Quarter 2021
Wärtsilä acquired the well-established Dutch underwater service specialist Trident BV in 2018. Since then, the two companies have been working closely together to develop synergies between Trident and the rest of the diversified marine technology group.
In recent weeks, efforts have been continuing behind the scenes to rebrand the Trident operation which, it has recently been announced, is now operating as Wärtsilä Underwater Services. Managing director, William Winters, says: “Since starting Trident back in 1993 with a team of two divers, we have evolved into a globally present operator. We are now working side by side with Wärtsilä and this change marks a significant step forward in our journey together.”
The scope for the underwater services team to add a new dimension to Wärtsilä’s aftersales service offering was recently highlighted by a project undertaken in the waters off Curacao, in the Caribbean, where diver-technicians worked simultaneously on seven Wärtsilä thrusters. The team was tasked with removing two complete thrusters and overhauling the remaining five in dry habitats under the water.
Wärtsilä Underwater Services has also recently performed a notable project to support the drydock extension of a large crane vessel. The scope of work included the removal of two underwater demountable thrusters, which were subsequently re-installed after the overhaul was completed on deck by Wärtsilä Propulsion colleagues.
The remaining propulsion systems, including three retractable units and two tunnel thrusters, were worked on underwater in hyperbaric, dry conditions. Winters says: “Our diver-technicians created dry habitats around these thrusters so that we could safely remove the propellers, overhaul the seal boxes and reinstall them with new liners. In addition, to meet class requirements, the gearboxes were opened up for gear and bearing inspections.”
Winters comments: “While the market for underwater repairs has been challenging, due to the travel restrictions which have limited our options to attend vessels for, in particular, emergency interventions, demand for repair services has remained strong over the past year or so. We have had to come up with many different solutions to specific problems and in some cases this has meant quarantine measures for the diver-technicians, rescheduling services, and coming up with temporary solutions to keep vessels going from a distance, through remote surveys for class, among other measures. As far as general maintenance services are concerned, the pandemic has had limited impact.”
In the prevailing market circumstances there has, perhaps not surprisingly, been limited expansion or investment in underwater services and capabilities over the past year. As Winters explains: “We have primarily been focused on further developing and upgrading existing procedures and equipment at all levels. We have also put more emphasis on the synergies with Wärtsilä’s Shaft Line Solutions division to support full life cycle support to our clients, and this includes afloat underwater repairs, but also in trimmed conditions.”
Wärtsilä Underwater Services has, furthermore, been focussing on strengthening its global reach as a core element of its development strategy going forward. Winters concludes: “We are leveraging global relationships both internally and externally to upgrade our network. We plan to make further significant steps in this context in the years to come.”