Given its ability to safely transfer offshore personnel in temperatures as bitterly cold as -28°C, it’s perhaps no surprise that Ampelmann’s latest walk-to-work system, the N-Type, has been nicknamed the ‘Icemann’.
Launched in late April, the active motion-compensated gangway was specially developed by Ampelmann “in response to growing demand for effective and safe personnel transfer equipment in frontier regions,” the manufacturer states. Demand has been particularly strong in offshore oil and gas hubs such as non-Arctic Russia, the Caspian Sea and offshore Norway and Canada.
The system structure is primarily made from steel and aluminium, with all actuators fashioned from steel. Jim Craig, Ampelmann chief executive, comments: “The Icemann has been designed from the bottom up, with every single component selected for its ability to operate in these extreme conditions.”
Given the remote areas in which the system will be deployed, it was important to ensure that the requirement for maintenance was kept to a minimum. Craig tells Ship & Boat International: “Access and handling equipment has been incorporated into the design for all potential maintenance requirements. The change-out of all main components offshore has been factored into the design.”
The Icemann has a maximum length of 32m and a walkway breadth of 600mm; during normal operations, only one person accesses the gangway at a time, with up to 20 persons remaining on the transfer deck. “In an emergency evacuation, three people can access the gangway, with 40 persons on the transfer deck,” Craig adds. Although operable in temperatures down to -28°C, the gangway and its cabling and hydraulics are designed for survivability in temperatures as low as -40°C.
The system’s handrails and walkways have been heat-traced, to prevent ice from forming, thus providing a safer and more comfortable means of moving between ship and offshore site. “All main equipment is stored inside, in a temperature-controlled equipment room,” Ampelmann explains. “The platforms and walkways are covered and the actuators are locally insulated and heat-traced. In addition, hydraulic flushing pre-heats the actuators when the system is switched off.”
The manufacturer has secured its first Icemann sale, having been contracted to supply one such system to a 100m x 21.7m ice-breaking standby vessel, currently under construction at Arctech Helsinki Shipyard for Sakhalin Energy. Once completed, Sakhalin Energy will deploy the ship at the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas development field in eastern Russia.