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Seawell charts future course following multi-million pound refit

One of the most distinctive vessels operating in the North Sea has undergone a multi-million pound refit and upgrade to ensure it remains at the forefront of the oil and gas industry for many years to come.

The light well intervention and dive support vessel MSV Seawell has returned to service after a £60million investment by its owners, Aberdeen-based Helix Well Ops (U.K.) Limited, a UK subsidiary of international offshore energy service company Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. It marks the beginning of the next chapter in the history of the pioneering monohull vessel.

Launched 30 years ago at the Pallion yard in Sunderland by North East Shipbuilders, MSV Seawell was described as the world’s most sophisticated offshore support vessel when it entered service in 1987.

The 114-metre (374ft) long vessel was the first in a series of vessels to feature electrical propulsion and set a benchmark for multifunctional offshore support vessels, certified as a stand-by and rescue ship, and equipped as an anchor-handler. MSV Seawell has been at the forefront of the light well intervention market since it undertook its first such project in the Magnus field, north-east of Shetland, in July 1987.

In November 1995, it carried out the first subsea tree replacement from a monohull vessel anywhere in the world. The North Sea’s Arkwright Field was the location of another historic first for the vessel in October 1998, when the world’s first wireline intervention on a horizontal subsea tree was completed. The range of projects that MSV Seawell has undertaken has been diverse.

Alongside intervention, well maintenance, production enhancement, diving and abandonment work, it has also recovered a ditched Harrier jet from the Bristol Channel. This diversity reflects the vessel’s specification which includes a 7m x 5m moon pool, a twin bell saturation diving system rated to 300m with a capacity for up to an 18-man dive team and work and observation class ROVs.

The vessel’s multi-million pound upgrade was carried out at the Damen yard in Vlissingen in the Netherlands, taking around eight and a half months, and was followed by extensive sea trials. Improving the efficiency and capability of MSV Seawell were set as key outcomes of the project. Six new Rolls Royce Bergen C25:33L8ACD generator sets have replaced obsolete Hedemora generators, which had powered the vessel since it was built.

The dynamic positioning (DP) thrusters and azimuths have been upgraded to DP2 class. This improves the station keeping performance of the popular vessel and the safety of wells being worked on, particularly in challenging weather.

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