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Cork Dockyard Converts Mainport Ship for New Career in Offshore Renewables Sector

19th March 2021
The 'Red Rebel': Resplendent in this Spring sunshine scene of Mainport Geo, a 50m former offshore supply ship, at Cork Dockyard following conversion into a survey/scientific vessel specifically to suit requirements of the offshore renewables sector. The facility in Rushbrooke, near Cobh was a former shipyard, but shiprepair and maintenance also remain, albeit at the nation's sole surviving graving dry-dock used for ships. The 'Red Rebel': Resplendent in this Spring sunshine scene of Mainport Geo, a 50m former offshore supply ship, at Cork Dockyard following conversion into a survey/scientific vessel specifically to suit requirements of the offshore renewables sector. The facility in Rushbrooke, near Cobh was a former shipyard, but shiprepair and maintenance also remain, albeit at the nation's sole surviving graving dry-dock used for ships. Credit: Mainport Group-twitter

Cork Dockyard's completion to convert a Mainport Group offshore supply vessel acquired in Africa, as Afloat reported in January, is expected to see the ship depart drydock shortly, prior to a new role in the offshore renewables sectorwrites Jehan Ashmore.

The Mainport Geo (formerly Oya), of 1,240 gross tonnage and which cost around €15m to build in 2015, had been operating for previous owners, with the 50m vessel based in the Ivory Coast.

The west African state was challenging to reach for Mainport given Covid-19 restrictions, but was to enable an inspection of the vessel last summer before making a delivery voyage to Cork Harbour.

As previously covered, the conversion took place at Doyle Shipping Group's (DSG) Cork Dockyard, so to transform Mainport Geo into a 'top-class survey vessel in the new year' according to the Group.

For more than 40 years, the group's main role has been to serve the Kinsale Gas Field, where operations are to end this year, that will lead platforms to be decommissioned. 

The company also operates a subsidairy, Celtic Tugs on the Shannon and seismic ships for the global hydro-carbon industry, but is diversifying into the offshore renewables sector as 'Seascapes' last week also highlighted.

Mainport see the great potential of companies in developing wind-farms projects off the south and west Irish coasts. In addition international clients seeking such related survey/scientific ships have already led to interested players about the Mainport Geo coming from the North Sea but also to survey the seabed off Angola, also in west Africa.

To meet the requirements of such specialist ships, the conversion included a new mezzarine deck. This is to feature an Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and a launch and recovery system (LARS) located on this new deck to deploy and retrieve the ROV.

To conduct survey work, a new port side crane was installed to handle an underwater survey baseline (USBL) pole. This difficult operation entailed marine engineering skills at Cork Dockyard (see Verolme shipbuilding era) to incorporate the techology by inserting 3m within the hull and to allow an outreach of a 1.5m survey pole positioned below the keel.

Also as part of the survey systems, involves the use of gliding multi-beams surveys, by using a blue pole also placed under base of the ship. These techologies map the sea bed structure and identify where suitable to install the base of wind-farm turbine towers.

As Afloat also previously mentioned, Mainport Geo is fitted with Dynamic Positioning (DP2-class) technology to enable the ship to maintain an exact stationary location while in deep seas, where conditions would not be possible with an anchor coupled with currents and waves.

The DP system is linked up with satellittes, where computers constantly monitor and adjust the ship's thrusters to pin-point accuracy where precision of seabed survey work can be maintained.

Unlike the rest of the Mainport fleet which have the company colours of a blue hull and white superstructure, Mainport Geo sports a red hull with the white forward deckhouse for 35 crew.

The reason for the red, cited Mainport was that the prior owner had intended to carry out the 5-year special ship survey and this involved purchase of red paint.

As such these paint drums remained on board and given the cost benefit, they were readily put to good use with the Munster based vessel so far, carrying aptly the same colours of the 'Rebel' county.

When Mainport Geo is floated off the stocks in Cork Dockyard, the ship will carry out trials at sea before the first constractor is secured leading to the ship's debut commercial deployment. 

Published in Shipyards, Cork Harbour
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Shipyards

Afloat will be focusing on news and developments of shipyards with newbuilds taking shape on either slipways and building halls.

The common practice of shipbuilding using modular construction, requires several yards make specific block sections that are towed to a single designated yard and joined together to complete the ship before been launched or floated out.

In addition, outfitting quays is where internal work on electrical and passenger facilities is installed (or upgraded if the ship is already in service). This work may involve newbuilds towed to another specialist yard, before the newbuild is completed as a new ship or of the same class, designed from the shipyard 'in-house' or from a naval architect consultancy. Shipyards also carry out repair and maintenance, overhaul, refit, survey, and conversion, for example, the addition or removal of cabins within a superstructure. All this requires ships to enter graving /dry-docks or floating drydocks, to enable access to the entire vessel out of the water.

Asides from shipbuilding, marine engineering projects such as offshore installations take place and others have diversified in the construction of offshore renewable projects, from wind-turbines and related tower structures. When ships are decommissioned and need to be disposed of, some yards have recycling facilities to segregate materials, though other vessels are run ashore, i.e. 'beached' and broken up there on site. The scrapped metal can be sold and made into other items.

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