Sunday, October 1

Pioneering Spirit: the world’s largest construction ship is a hyper-technified hulk for the high seas

If there were a title of “strongman of the seas” the ship Pioneering Spirit would be a serious candidate. Serious and hard to beat. The Allseas company claims that her creature is the largest construction ship in the world and there are those who go further and point it out as the largest ship by gross tonnage. It certainly needs size to accomplish its task: installing and removing huge offshore structures, such as oil rigs, gas extraction plants, or heavy oil pipelines.

Thanks to its design it is capable of transporting and drive huge topsidesthe heads of the platforms offshore that shine above the water and on which the equipment is distributed. Allseas ensures that its lifting beams allow it to work with structures of up to 48,000 tons.

Another of the pieces that he usually moves during his missions are the jacketslarge pieces also responsible for supporting the weight of the topsides in high sea. When it comes to dealing with one, the Pioneering Spirit is capable of lifting 20,000-ton frames in one fell swoop.

Objective: shorten offshore work

Why such a muscle? Simple: for simplify operations that are done in the middle of the ocean and transfer the rest, such as the dismantling of an oil platform, to ships where it is easier to operate. “It significantly reduces the amount of work on the high seas, moving it to land, where it is safer and more profitable,” they explain from the Allseas firm.

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His first mission, shortly after leaving the shipyard, was in fact to eliminate a huge 13,500-ton platform in the Yme oil field, in the North Sea, near Norway, and not long after he dared Shell’s Brent Delta platform , of 24,000 tons.

Other missions with which he demonstrated his ability was the installation of a huge top side in 2018 for Equinor or 32-inch pipelines —0.8 meters— at a depth of 2,200 m, an operation that was completed in 2017 in the Black Sea, advancing at an average of five kilometers per day.






If it can accomplish such feats, it is largely due to its design, similar to that of a giant catamaran in the shape of a sled. Pioneering Spirit is a double hulled ship, 382 m long and 124 wide. In the bow it has a “U” shaped opening, a wide horseshoe 122 m long and 59 wide that allows it to move around a platform. Thanks to that peculiar design and an “arsenal” of eight powerful lifting beams, it is capable of handling the topsides.

For removal and installation of jackets It incorporates two 170 m long beams at the stern that can rotate on hinges. “The lifting systems are complemented by a special 5,000-tonne crane for additional lifting, such as covers and jackets lighter, modules and bridges”, says the company. In the middle of last year, after having eliminated structures in Morecambe Bay, he calculated that he had already worked – between different tasks – more than 200,000 tons of materials, moving them to land so that they could handle them.

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The ship also has eight diesel generators that provide a power of 95 MW, reaches 14 knots and takes into account the tilting lifting beams and its stern “stinger”, in addition to the 382 m length, its total length extends to 477. Its capacity of elevation of the upper part is 48,000 tons and that of the structure designed to jackets of 20,000 tons divided into six blocks with individual capacities of 5,000. On board can go 571 crew.






The ship also has a history almost as peculiar as its technical file.

The ship was manufactured between 2011 and 2014 at the DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering) shipyard in South Korea, and began operating on the high seas in 2016. Although its data and mission are what are most impressive, for a while the attention focused on his name.

Its promoters wanted to name it Pieter Schelte in a nod to the father of the owner of Alsseas, a leading figure in the sector. Schelte’s links with the SS during World War II, however, led the company to opt for a more impersonal one: Pioneering Spirit.

The ship is still in service at full speed. Just a few days ago it was reported that EnQuest had just contracted Allseas for use in removing the upper parts of the Heather Alpha platform in the North Sea. She there she will take care of lifting topsides modular of 13,000 tons.

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One more mission for this giant of the seas.

Images: Allseas

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