The latest multi-purpose coastal and waterways workboat to go into service with north German authorities – the hydrographic survey vessel ‘Oland’ - is small at 22.68m and draws just 95cms. All of which makes it well suited for a multitude of jobs in the shallow tidal flats and wetlands of Schleswig-Holstein.

The newbuilding has already earned the praise of its owners. “My colleagues say they are very satisfied with the ship”, said Hendrik Brunckhorst. He is the spokesman for the LKN-SH - the agency responsible for coastal defence, national parks and marine protection in the German state. However, speaking to Maritime Journal just two months after it went into service out of home port Husum on the North Sea, Brunckhorst acknowledged that they “have not as yet been able to gather a lot of experience with it”.

The state proudly declares “We protect Schleswig-Holstein’s coast” – and it is a massive claim. Schleswig-Holstein – called the ‘Water State’ and the northernmost of Germany’s 16 federal states, - lies between two seas. It has a 466 km coastline with the North Sea in the west and a 536km coastline east on the Baltic as well as 30,000km of waterways and rivers, (among them the complete 98km Kiel Canal) and more than 300 lakes!

According to the state’s own statistics, 350,000 people live in potentially flood endangered areas (a quarter of the state’s land area) making coastal protection a serious business and the boats responsible for it very important indeed.

Named after an island in the Waddenmeer – an inter-tidal shallow water national park region down the western Frisian coast of Schleswig Holstein - Oland replaces a 31-year-old predecessor of the same name, also based in Husum. The new ship was ordered in July last year from the SET Shipyard in Tangermünde, nearly 400km inland on the Elbe, after tenders were invited through the EU. The keel was laid in October and the newbuilding was launched in June this year and went into service with the LKN-SH in July. Schleswig-Holstein paid the €3.8 million price tag.

Using up-to-date navigation and sounding equipment, Oland’s scope of work is wide and covers laying buoys to measure sea conditions and currents, maintenance of level gauges and the measurement of water and tidal movements in shallow waters. The amount of data it generates is described as vast: using information provided by Oland officials can, for example, determine how high local dykes should be built. Its usefulness however does not end there and the flexible new addition to the LKN-SH fleet can also be used as a tug to bring materials for coastal protection to the mudflats in barges or pontoons – as well as for biological monitoring. However, Hendrik Brunckhorst told Maritime Journal the ship would serve mainly as a monitoring vessel.

Particularly important in all this is the boat’s mere 95 cm draught and flat hull. This means it can sit on the mud without problem when the tide is out – earning it the nickname ‘Schlickrutscher’ (Mud Slider). “That’s perfect for the mudflats, although manoeuvering is a challenge”, said LKN-SH hydrology and observation service specialist Frerk Jensen. The old Oland had a draught of 1.5m making it unsuitable for service under some tidal conditions. Nonetheless the old boat was being kept in service for a while following delivery of the new Oland and before being sold for further service elsewhere. Nautical Inspector Rainer Lüdtke was quoted as saying “we want to play it safe and give the technology on the new ship time to adapt”.

Certified for national service: DNV GL, 100, A5 Work Boat 111, MC E AUT and with a crew of 3 or 4, the new 140GT steel monohull Oland is propelled by two D9 MH main engines from AB Volvo Penta, each of 221kW @ 1800 rpm. They drive two fixed ducted propellers from Promar and provide a speed of 10 knots and a bollard pull of 5.5 tons. There are two auxiliaries on board. One is a D7 of 139kw/ 1800rpm from Volvo Penta and one an air-cooled unit from Hatz of 22.9kw/1800rpm. The boat also has a 35kW, electric-drive Hydrosta-designed bow thruster type BR Sider of 35kW.

Oland carries two-5.5 m3 capacity Diesel fuel storage tanks and a 1.7m3 day tank with filter plant.

The double rudder plant is from van der Velden and Oland also has two cranes each of 1.5 ton capacity and mounted in the bow and stern. Both are from Pahlfinger. The stern crane is of Type PK 18500 M and the bow crane of PK 11001 M. The newbuilding’s nautical equipment is from JRC with autopilot from Anschütz. The Type EA 400 measurement equipment was supplied by Kongsberg and supported by Sea Tel Cobham satellite telephone. Inside, Oland boasts three individual cabins, a double cabin, a mess, galley and a medical room.

The LKH-SH says it is currently well equipped with vessels to combat the ever-present risk of flooding. It lists eight ships, 21 multi-purpose boats and four amphibians in its service fleet along with specialised equipment.

Hendrik Brunckhorst told this correspondent that another newbuilding “almost identical” to Oland was now planned for delivery next year. It will also be a shallow water vessel and will be mainly for tug work and replace the tug, Hooge. Invitations to tender had already gone out and it was hoped the new ship would be completed in November 2017, Brunckhorst reported.

He also said it was possible a third ship, again almost identical to Oland, might be ordered later to replace the 14m tug Trischen. Financing was being investigated and if built, it would also be primarily for tug service, he revealed.

By Tom Todd