Babcock (NZ) Ltd have had a very busy 12 months with commercial docking projects including passenger cruise ships; two Antarctic going vessels, as well as a super yacht and a major refit for a South Pacific based French Navy frigate. In addition to the challenging work packages on these projects, many of the vessels arrived with large crews and a considerable contingent of overseas specialists. This initially presented challenges in planning for work site access and safety.
Babcock is New Zealand’s largest ship repair and marine engineering facility. It’s shipyard located in Devonport, Auckland in New Zealand's North Island, is one of the most experienced facilities in Oceania, with 181.4m dry-dock, with capacity for vessels up to 22m beam.
Some of the notable recent project included:
New Caledonian based French Navy frigate Vendémiaire completed a 16 week major refit period in May 2017. As with the vessels 2014 refit, Babcock was contract to undertake the work by the French prime contractor DCNS.
The extensive programme included installation of a new boat davit equipment provided by DCNS, with Babcock responsible for the structural fabrication, mechanical installation and testing. Palfinger Marine, of Poland attended the commissioning. A new Hi-Fog’ water mist fire suppression system was provided by DCNS, via DEF Marine, with Babcock responsible for mechanical installation. This involved, cutting access into the ship’s hull, installing discharge and suction penetrations, as well as two high volume water pumps, and an 800litres back-up pressure tank with nitrogen supply. Installation of over 830m of pre-manufactured stainless steel system pipework was installed throughout the vessel. Babcock’s electrical workshop also assisted DEF Marine with the electrical and cabling installation.
Lesser installations included a Reverse Osmosis Fresh Water Maker; a new PABX cabinet and cabling; replacement oily water separator; new galley equipment and water heaters. Maintenance activities included; overhaul of SEMT Pielstick 6PA6 L280 main engine; overhaul of port and starboard gearboxes and overhaul of bow thruster motor; preservation of underwater hull, topsides hull and helicopter deck; hull thickness survey; structural steelwork repairs and general outfitting and equipment maintenance and preservation works.
Wind Spirit a modern cruise ship with an elaborate system of computer-controlled sails on four masts underwent a $3 million 14-day drydock and refit with Babcock during April 2017. The scope of work included removal of the rudder and propeller shaft for survey and to assist the attending Wartsila technicians with installation of a replacement propeller oil distribution box. Other key dry-dock works included; steel work repairs; sea valve surveys; overhaul and testing of life boat davits and high pressure water blasting and painting of the underwater hull and boot topping. The installation of 462m2 new teak decking and increasing the usable deck space by almost 20m2 by removing the skylight from the deck three aft pool bar The old outdoor teak decking was so thick it was cut into four thinner parts for form new lounge flooring.
The owner’s specialists also attended dry docking, including an abseiling specialists who climbed the four 62m high masts to check and repair stays and rigging. Two shift working was employed on steelwork repairs to minimise dry-dock time. The job included 48,960 hours of labour, according to Windstar, involving 120 contractors.
Wind Spirit is 134m Loa, 5,736grt motor sailing vessel classification by Bureau Veritas. It can achieve up to 15.8knots with prevailing winds and 10knots with engines only. Its normal cruising base is Papeete in French Polynesia.
Babcock have dry-docked two Antarctic mission support vessels this summer. The Italica a 1980-built, 133m Loa, 5,825grt cargo ship, which has been modified for ice, provides support for the Italian Antarctic base by the Ross Sea. The vessel can accommodate 92 passengers and it has been visiting the Antarctic since 1990. It has a helicopter deck and a research vessel on its deck which is used by marine biologists, and could transport up to 800,000litres of fuel to the research base. The second vessel was the Nathaniel B Palme, Loa 94m, 6,174grt built in 1992, U.S. flagged research vessel ice breaker owned by Offshore Service Vessels LLC, operated by Edison Chouest Offshore, Inc. and chartered by the United States National Science Foundation. Nathaniel B. Palmer carries a helicopter, accommodates up to 37 scientists and a crew of 22.
Each vessel required UT thickness measurements for the hull renewal survey, as well as general dry-dock maintenance including; preparation and painting of the underwater hull and topsides hull areas and survey of sea valves and underwater equipment. The planned repairs on the Italica included repairs to sections of side and forepeak shell plate were also completed, including Polar Steel (EH36) purchased in advance by Babcock earlier in the year. Both vessels returned to Lyttelton, in the South Island, post dry-docking for final preparations prior to re-deployment on Antarctic projects.