Ship & Boat International eNews: January/February 2021
Figures released by the G+ Global Offshore Wind Health and Safety Organisation – whose members include energy majors Ørsted and Siemens Gamesa, plus offshore contractor Van Oord, among others – show that 123 injuries were recorded within the offshore wind sector in 2019: a slight increase on 2018’s figure, although lower than for the numbers recorded between 2014-2017.
According to G+, although 34.1% of incidents occurred on the wind turbines, 33.3% occurred on the vessels. The stats stress the importance of focusing on safety, both on board CTVs/SOVs and at the personnel/cargo transfer interface. For those SOVs (and larger CTVs) that are not equipped with walk-to-work gangways, it is vital to ensure that personnel are protected when moving from the SOV mothership to the smaller CTV that carries them directly to the turbines.
The latter consideration has inspired a couple of new solutions from Dutch firm KENC Engineering. In Q4 2020, KENC unveiled its two Automatic Boat Landing Systems (ABLS) – namely the ABLS H-Type and ABLS V-Type – which were developed to provide a safe transfer point between SOV and CTV. Vincent Vinkoert, KENC business development manager, tells Ship & Boat International: “It has become more and more common in the offshore energy industry to transfer crew to and from the vessel by CTV.” This is particularly the case where weight restrictions limit the use of walk-to-work gangways, and given that helicopter transfers can be expensive and risky.
Typically, these boat landings need to be put into position by the mothership’s crane, a process that can incur cost and operational downtime. “An alternative is that the boat landing remains deployed in a fixed manner, which results in significant additional drag, and thus increased fuel costs,” Vinkoert adds. Taking a different approach, KENC’s ABLS models feature hydraulic drives, and have been designed to deploy and retract the boat landing – which essentially ‘folds out’ in a counter-clockwise, vertical motion – “with the single push of a control button”, Vinkoert explains. In this way, the need for crane support is removed. “Normally, the control panel for operating the ABLS will be placed close-by on deck but, if required, it is possible to control the ABLS from the bridge,” he says.
The ABLS H-Type, which was developed for installation aboard larger vessels, has a height of 2.5m and “requires an available free distance of 1m to the vessel's outside hull”, says Vinkoert. The ABLS V-Type has a deck footprint of approximately 2.5m x 2.5m. The length of each ABLS is customisable, depending on the specific vessel, though will be typically be in the range of 7-12m. KENC says: “The base configuration of both ABLS [types] is certified and compatible with all common CTVs”, while Vinkoert elaborates: “The V-Type is the most common choice for lengths in the 7-10m range, and the H-Type the most common for the 10-12m range.”
At the owner’s request, the ABLS can also be integrated with existing shipboard systems – ranging from cargo-/luggage-lifting systems (to enable personnel to swiftly move their tools from the SOV to the CTV) to flood lights (for improved visibility in murky or dark conditions). Another variable will be the maximum impact load that the ABLS can take from the CTV; this will also be customised, depending on the CTV’s size and the significant wave heights that the operator expects to encounter in his working environment. Vinkoert comments: “In general, the ABLS design is suitable for the latest CTV designs and sizes, and significant wave heights up to 2.5m.”