Reel drive scales up

‘Ocean Evolution’s reel drive underpins it’s multi-role flexibility ‘Ocean Evolution’s reel drive underpins it’s multi-role flexibility

Putting ‘flexibility’ into flex-lay, Texas headquartered Oceaneering International’s new multi-role vessel, ‘Ocean Evolution’, is being kitted out to take all kinds of reels.

Underpinning it all, the drive system has to be capable of dealing with 14m diameter units weighing 800-tonnes under dynamic, sea-state conditions. This drive – which can be configured to operate smaller and lighter loads for specific projects – can handle multiple reels, as well as skid them, fully loaded, up and down a dedicated track, a system that makes for efficient onboard handling.

However, Oceaneering’s contract required a ramping up in size for UK manufacturer MDL; it’s previous installations had previously reached 350t – Evolution’s 800t reel drive system (RDS) needed to be more than twice as capable. “It’s the biggest we’ve delivered so far,” said MDL’s Mike Gaskin.

It’s worth noting that the original units were designed well enough to make this kind of scaling up plausible: firstly the reel cradles are integrated into the drive tracks, a feature that speeds up mobilisation, demob and changeover for multi-reel projects and also increases safety said Gaskin. Moreover, the third-generation system (first used as part of a rental fleet on Viking Neptun in 2015) features a power unit built into one of the towers: “That’s less space taken up by the equipment on deck, plus no runs of cables and hoses that could pose a trip hazard,” he added.

It comes with completely self-contained electric variable frequency drive package and an A60 rated fire-proof cabin in order to conform with US coast guard requirements, as well as a Walk-About-Box (WAB) to give the operators complete flexibility when it comes to control position.

By Stevie Knight

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