Royal Navy prefers PLR-5000 for latest OPV duo

The UK Ministry of Defence has given the go ahead for BAE Systems to build two further Royal Navy ‘River Class’ offshore patrol vessels, in a move that signals good news for Vestdavit. The contract brings the total number of River Class OPVs now due delivery from Glasgow under the MOD’s ‘Batch 2’ ordering round to five, with all five to be equipped with davits from Vestdavit.

The 90.5 m length River Class vessels are not designed for combat. They will be globally deployable to operate over a range of 5,000+ nautical miles, and will be available for counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling duties, as well as for policing fishing quota agreements.

All five of the River Class OPVs will be fitted with two Vestdavit PLR-5000 davits, the high specification units designed for multiple operations that are robust enough to perform in the harshest environments, up to sea state 6. Davit systems are often referred to as the ‘primary weapon system’ of an OPV.

The compact PLR-5000 davit is built to a modular, skid mounted design for easy installation and maintenance. It can be exchanged between ships or relocated on board an individual ship, to reflect changing davit requirements.

The first River Class OPV, HMS Forth, is due delivery in 2017.

Fully prepared for Polar Code

IMO safety standards are a minimum: entry into force of the Polar Code from January 2017 holds no surprises for Vestdavit, which has exceeded the new standards for many years.

A combination of climatic and economic conditions saw the number of cargo vessels completing the Northern Sea Route fall to 18 in 2015, compared to 71 in 2013. However, shipping’s appetite for adventure remains high, as demonstrated by Crystal Serenity’s cruise through the Northwest Passage in September 2016.

Over time, polar transit is likely to become a common occurrence, but the risks associated with polar conditions will not diminish. For these reasons, regulators have developed a new Polar Code, covering ship design, construction and equipment. As a marine equipment supplier whose reputation and market share is built on safe and reliable operations, the new Code holds no surprises for Vestdavit.

“The guidance given in the Code focuses on avoiding ice build-up on structures and key components, although it does not give specific failsafe temperatures,” says Atle Kalve, Vestdavit Development Director. “Our davits meet and exceed these requirements because they are built to operate reliably and without fail at temperatures as low as -40°C.”

To work in the extremes experienced in Arctic and Antarctic waters, davits need to be ‘winterized’, using special materials and components, Kalve explains. These include the special steels to satisfy temperature tests from different class societies, higher specification hydraulic cylinders and special cylinder seal kits.

Other system parts need to be heated, with heating elements required for exposed moving parts, including winch gears/motors and proportional control valves. Some components – such as hydraulic power units and electric cabinets – can be supplied with heating elements or installed inside, depending on owner preference.

“Vestdavit is well aware of the wording of the Polar Code and its requirements, and customers are welcome to contact us for further discussion,” says Kalve. “We are also happy to explain how and why Vestdavit has been building and testing its davits to temperatures as low as -40°C as a matter of routine over many years.” For extreme conditions davits for -52°C can also be delivered.

Champion for Service

A full davit inspection and service on the seismic vessel Oceanic Champion highlights why customers choose to work with certified specialists from Vestdavit when it comes to equipment renewal.   

Recent work at Frederikshavn’s Orskov yard, Denmark on the CCG Eidesvik vessel Oceanic Champion included a 10-day inspection and repair project covering two TDB-9000 telescopic workboat davits.

“This was typical of the 5-year inspection and repair projects we carry out worldwide, as far as it called for the ingenuity and deep knowledge only available from certified technicians,” says Vestdavit Service Manager, Kristian Moss.

The project included davit removal to the workshop; dismantling for internal checks; repainting; overhauling several hydraulic cylinders; davit reinstallation; and 10% overload testing overseen by DNVGL.

However, as with any service work the full scope only became clear to Vestdavit service engineers Kristian Aase and Jarle Reistad after inspection. “The scope of work also involved installation of new seal kits, replacing wire sheaves, hoses and lifting wire,” says Aase, whose service report includes an account of daily work done, with some days running to 14 working hours.

“Service is all about being available to the customer and flexible,” says Moss. “Our experienced service personnel also know the importance of developing a good working relationship with the partner yard to meet the customer’s requirements.”