A German offshore wind vessel operator has explained how its Service Operation Vessels are continuing to operate and provide a key service during challenging times.

Matthias Müller, Head of BSM Offshore Services says that protecting the health and safety of its passengers and crew is a top priority each and every day. He adds that despite the global pandemic, BSM’s consistently high standards and close working relationships with its clients mean that the company has been able to adapt to new ways of working with little impact on its customers.

The company is currently managing three Service Operation Vessels (SOV) which are owned by Bernhard Schulte, accommodating between 60 and 120 people, which includes technicians maintaining offshore wind farms in the North Sea and the BSM Offshore Services crew. One of the vessels is operating in Dutch waters, contracted to Siemens Gamesa Renewables and the other two are in German waters, contacted to Siemens Gamesa Renewables and GE Renewables.

“Because the vessels house so many people we already had exceptionally high hygiene standards on board, for example using hand sanitiser and cleaning with disinfectant before entering a mess room. But as a result of the coronavirus we have now introduced very strict procedures for anyone joining or visiting the vessel and we are minimising crew changes - we are very grateful to our seafarers for their support on this. We are all maintaining social distancing across the vessels, but otherwise the way we work has not changed dramatically,” Matthias adds.

The SOVs visit port every two weeks and the rest of the time are independent, stationed offshore in the windfarm. Equipped to a very high standard with cabins and leisure rooms, sauna, jacuzzi and gym, they also serve as a floating warehouse, stocked with all the spare parts that might be needed while deployed.

BSM and its clients work very collaboratively, the charterers have their own HSE and dedicated doctors, but all COVID-19 related decisions have been taken jointly, and the SOV’s all adhere to the latest German Government advice and regulations.

The SOVs have not faced any shortages in supplies thanks to BSM Offshore Services’ purchasers and their network of suppliers.

“We have close longstanding relationships with our offshore clients, stretching back many years and will continue to do so into the future. On the vessel - living together - we are already very familiar, but the coronavirus has now enhanced relationships between our office teams, too. They are holding video conferences every few days, and alongside work, they are discussing their shared experiences, not least the joys of home schooling!”

Matthias adds that: “As an international company, we have faced some problems with travel restrictions and closed borders, but COVID-19 has really demonstrated the value of having our own Crew Service Centres in our seafarers’ countries of origin. The centres and our in-house corporate and maritime travel agency have both gone above and beyond helping us to solve problems around travel restrictions by working with local authorities, offering socially distanced transport and providing a local BSM contact person for the seafarers and their families. It’s this dedication to crew welfare and our family company culture which underpins our industry-leading crew retention rate of more than 90%.”

Looking ahead, Matthias says BSM Offshore Services will continue to work closely with its clients delivering safe, reliable and efficient offshore services, while monitoring the COVID-19 situation carefully and taking all necessary steps to minimise risk to its clients and crews.

BSM Offshore Services is a ship management provider in the offshore wind, oil and gas industry. The company provides owners, investors and operators with a wide range of comprehensive management services, including technical and crew management, newbuilding supervision and fleet maintenance.

By Jake Frith