GSS has twins

'Maggie M' is currently installing cables for an offshore wind farm in UK waters.
'Morag M' went to work on a European offshore wind farm as soon as it was delivered last month.
Industry Database

Scotland’ s renewable energy trade body Scottish Renewables estimates that in 20 years the country’ s marine renewables industry could employ some 25,000 people and provide enough power for more than 500,000 homes. Marine renewable energy from wind, wave and tidal sources could in fact contribute to Scotland meeting more than half its energy needs from renewable sources by as early as 2020.

Wasting no time in preparing for a potential marine energy bonanza in its homeland, Argyll & Bute based GSS Plant Ltd ordered two Eurocarrier 2209 multi-purpose workboats from the Dutch builder Neptune Marine BV, with the rapid growth of offshore wind farms around the UK a primary consideration and a specific motivating force.

GSS took delivery of the second 22m Eurocarrier in Holland on 31 December after that vessel, Morag M, had passed its sea trials with flying colours. Morag M is the sister ship to Maggie M, which was delivered by Neptune in July of last year. Morag M sailed immediately to start work on a European offshore wind farm. Confirming the faith GSS had placed in the marine renewable energy sector, Maggie M is also fully engaged installing cables for an offshore wind farm in UK waters.

Both vessels have an excellent and well considered specification which enables them to tackle the toughest jobs that wind farms or other marine construction works can throw at them. They share the same standard Neptune hull format that allows heavy lifting capability to be combined with access to the shallowest of waters. The 22m by 9m by 2.8m Morag M is powered by Cat C18 main engines, giving a bollard pull of 16 tons and free running speed of 10 knots. The Maggie M differs in that it is powered by Mitsubishi S12 engines which provide a bollard pull of 20 tons.

Deck equipment aboard consists of a 140 ton/m Heila Hi Hab complete with 5 ton boom mounted auxiliary winch. The crane benefits from both local and wireless remote operation. Winches were provided by Hydrauvison and consist of a 50 ton split drum main winch and 10 ton aft tugger winch. Both deck winches are controlled from the bridge. All hydraulics are powered by duel electric pumps powered by the vessel’s generating systems. Electrical power 120kVa and is provided by John Deere generators, one of which is radiator cooled. The other is keel cooled, along with the main engines. Anchor handling can be done over either the bow or stern, with the bow benefiting from a large roller and tow pins. Rubber push bows are fitted on both the bow and stern of the vessel. A quick release tow hook is fitted and rated in tandem with the bollard pull and the deck benefits from a large free-running capstan.

Fuel and water is in plentiful supply and can be transferred quickly through metered pumps. 45 m³ of diesel fuel can be transferred at 40 m³ per hour and 31 m³ of water can be transferred at 40 m³ per hour also.

Deck space on both boats is plentiful at some 100 m² , providing a high load capacity for vessels of this size. Internal accommodation comprises of three separate heated and air conditioned cabins, along with galley and mess.

In the wheelhouse are all of the navigation and communication equipment expected of a modern vessel. Communication is provided by GSM mobile phone, fax, wireless email, Irridium satellite phone and two GMDSS VHF radios. Navigation is PC driven, with Navmaster as the preferred software. This is backed up by a Furuno GP150 DGPS and Furuno satellite compass. Further bridge equipment includes a Furuno FR16505 radar, Navtex, Sea Pilot 75, FA-50 AIS system and watch keeping alarms.

Both vessels have been designed and perfected over the years by Neptune Marine and are ideal platforms for dredging assistance and marine construction projects. Classification is BV I 3/3 (E) and MCA CAT2, so European and indeed worldwide operation is possible.

Last year was a busy one for GSS on both the marine plant hire side and for civil engineering operations. The entire GSS fleet has seen utilisation in both the UK and Europe, with vessels working on dredging, land reclamation projects and offshore wind farms. Work continues in Germany and the company is pleased to continue a partnering relationship with a Dutch company at the Wilhelmshaven harbour extension project to which the Laura M is deployed. An ongoing commitment to training has seen GSS operatives obtaining STCW95 qualifications in all aspects of seamanship up to and including Master 200gt.

On the civil engineering front GSS has been involved in a variety of construction projects large and small, all with a variety challenges. Many months have been spent beneath the new Kincardine crossing removing the construction furniture, including driven steel pile caissons. Further works on this contract involved the removal of steel piled temporary jetties on the north and south side of the river. These projects involved GSS civil engineers working in collaboration with the marine department using barges, multi-cat type vessels and on-land crawler cranes. Other completed works included the design, supply and installation of a floating anti-terrorist boom for the UK’s Ministry of Defence. This was coupled with the installation of a subsea fence to further remove the risk of penetration into the MoD establishment. Jetty repair works continue to be a key area in which GSS are called to assist. During the summer a team carried out two emergency repairs to two separate jetties, one of which required the use of a 300t sheerleg crane barge.

Other activities during 2008 included the installation of sewerage outfall pipes at various locations around the UK. Cable installation has provided regular activity, particularly with regard to wind farms, and GSS has clearly enhanced its presence in this sector with the addition of Maggie M and Morag M to the fleet. The current year looks set to be yet another busy one, with a healthy forward looking order book that includes concrete works, jetty repairs, and outfall installations in addition to the seemingly insatiable demand from the marine renewables sector.

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