The impending completion of Dutch marine contractor Dockwise's innovative semisubmersible Dockwise Vanguard by the end of this year will see this vessel arrive on the market with the capability to be a true "game-changer."

With three transportation contracts already signed, the Vanguard has been welcomed by oil companies looking to speed up the process of transporting their facilities, often halfway around the world. The sums are simple enough – the self-propelled vessel will be able to sail at 12.5 knots to 14 knots from the Far East shipyards to the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), for example, in around 50 days. That is a distance that normally takes around 120 days in a wet tow. Such a crucial cut in sailing time has benefits in terms of bringing fields onstream to begin earning revenue much earlier than currently possible.

image of he Dockwise Vanguard

The Dockwise Vanguard’s movable casings mean it is able to carry fully integrated structures with overhang available on all sides. The vessel’s first contracted job at year-end 2012 will be to transport the Jack/St. Malo semisubmersible platform for Chevron from South Korea to the GoM. (Images courtesy of Dockwise)

According to Robb Erickson, Dockwise vice president, sales for heavy marine transport, the vessel also enables the dry transportation of complete FPSOs and other floating production systems without the need to carry out further work at the other end of the journey. "For FPSOs we can bring the whole thing over from the Far East, topsides and all, rather than do the hull there and the topsides in the West," he said. "This further adds to the time-saving and earlier revenue-generating advantages of using this vessel for such jobs."

He added that a future option might be for FPSOs – "which are just a big box" – to be built without engines instead being transported by the Vanguard to its location for mooring.

The offshore industry's requirement to deploy increasingly large and heavy floating production units (FPUs), not only FPSOs but tension-leg platforms, semisubmersible platforms, and spars, is what drove Dockwise to brainstorm and eventually go ahead with its "Type 0 Super Vessel." With many such facilities weighing more than 50,000 metric tons, the vessels are well beyond the capabilities of the existing fleet of self-propelled semisubmersible transport carriers.

Until now this has led to these FPUs being shipped in segments and then integrated at their destination. "For spars, for example, their own