The do-it-all vessel

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Harald Bigseth knows he’s close.

After a tour of Turkish shipyards and meetings with Norwegian vessel owners, there’s interest, at last, for up to four of his Point Aqua work boats from a large fleet operator.

When we first met the Point Offshore managing director, a partnership was beginning to flower with shipyards interested in replacing lost offshore vessel orders with aquaculture new-builds. For shipyards, Mr. Bigseth is one path to a booming offshore aquaculture business growing by around 10 percent per year, according to a consensus of industry watchers Salmon Business has reported since this summer.

For fish farmers and owners of aquaculture fleets. Mr. Bigseth’s vessel design offers a smaller vessel that does the work of much larger vessels, plus a platform for the latest energy-efficiency and harvesting innovations.

A new “stun and bleed” system pumps fish from the cage onto a tray and then into a “containerized unit” to be stunned on a conveyor belt and dropped into seawater cooled to 2 degrees Celsius. The tank holds 45 tonnes of fish plus refrigerated seawater.

“They’re very keen on these vessels now,” said Bigseth who admits it’s Norwegian owners for now, after brokers for African and North American charters haven’t really panned out.

After years serving tanker and oil-rig owners along with offshore fleets as a design engineer with project management ability, Bigseth knows he’s close to a new stream of business with two Norwegian owners interested in Point Offshore’s Point Aqua aquaculture workboats. He’s close, so he’ll bide his time consulting for an owner building a tanker in China.

“We provide turnkey (construction and project management), not just design,” Bigseth said.

China might be right for tankers, but the Turks are expert and priced right for smaller designs. Most importantly, they’re eager to build aquaculture vessels.

“They’re well-qualified for having produced some of Norway’s (leading) ferry, luxury yacht and offshore vessel designs,” he said. Many Turkish yards Salmon Business spoke to at Nor-Shipping 2017 are low on work and haven’t had a new order since April.

So, the Ulsteinvik-based Point Offshore is offering charter parties its “extreme wide-beam workboats”, including the trademark Point Aqua 15-10 XWB for shunting around giant aquaculture pens; launching remote-operated vehicles and divers; pen inspections and now processing.

They can move the entire farm installation into safer water if needed, and they can take on other roles.

Importantly for salmon-farmers, the Point Aquas are envisioned using fixed, bow and stern thrusters and 1,000 HP, yet they don’t need a captain trained in dynamic-positioning, since they’re shorter than 15 meters. Shorter than 15 meters, the Point Aquas don’t need a captain trained in DP to move fish farms and their anchors, and the XWBs act as anchor-handlers with cranes and a stern winch.

“They can carry huge loads on deck and five or 6 persons onboard,” said Bigseth. He’s confident the aluminum hull design is stronger and more seaworthy than a catamaran.