Damen and Ampelmann introduce offshore crew change solution OceanXpress

Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards and offshore access solution provider Ampelmann have established the joint venture OceanXpress to provide offshore crew change solutions in The North Sea area.

This collaboration combines the engineering feats of Damen’s Fast Crew Supplier (FCS) 7011 ‘Aqua Helix’ with the S-type motion compensated gangway system from Ampelmann. The vessel and gangway system have successfully passed offshore commissioning and will now start offering services to the offshore energy market.

Continuing years of cooperation, the joint venture OceanXpress was established on 11 April 2022. Damen and Ampelmann will provide full logistical support to the operations of ‘Aqua Helix’ and the S-type as a fully integrated crew supply solution for clients in the North Sea energy market. Experienced crew from Wagenborg Offshore will navigate the vessel along platforms.

Aqua Helix provides fast and comfortable transport of up to 120 people at once and the height adjustable gangway will facilitate rapid crew changes to and from vessel, allowing it to service multiple offshore installations during its tour. The extra time this may take for the offshore workers is compensated by the high-speed transfer from the Port of Den Helder.

High operational efficiency

The FCS 7011 can sail at speeds up to 40 knots, even in rough conditions. The axe bow reduces slamming and pitching to great extent, Damen says. The slender aluminium hull allows for fast sailing as it is powered by four MTU engines connected to water jets. The largest gyro stabiliser built to date by VEEM will reduce rolling by more than 90 percent. The vessel is perfectly laid out to provide a comfortable, fast, and efficient ride across the North Sea waves.

Damen and Ampelmann engineered Aqua Helix for integration of the gangway installation with the hull structure. This integrated approach allowed the engineers to design a light but strong structure for the gangway foundation. Weight reduction is key when high speed is required.

Safe transfers

At destination, the Ampelmann gangway system enables offshore workers to safely walk to the offshore installation. Based on proven technology, the telescopic gangway can reach platforms and turbines up to 19 meters above sea level. The combination of advanced dynamic positioning, gyro stabiliser and the Ampelmann system allow for safe, rapid and efficient personnel transfers.

Proof of concept

OceanXpress aims to upgrade crew change solutions in terms of comfort and efficiency. Successful sea trials have shown that the vessel and integrated gangway system are fit for the job.The service is now available for both long-term and short-term commitments.

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