When a vessel such as an oil product tanker needs to be repaired, the time taken by the shipyard to complete the project is critical, as every day that it is out of commission could potentially result in substantial lost revenue.
Walvis Bay-based Elgin Brown & Hamer Namibia (EBHN), the preferred ship repairer on the West Coast of Africa, is very well aware of this. When the owners of oil product tanker, the Huascar – with a collision-damaged bulbous bow - approached EBHN, the company devised an innovative, fast and cost-effective repair strategy which would minimise the tanker’s time out of service.
The vessel owners sent an initial enquiry to EBHN in June 2016, and EBHN, in turn, submitted a preliminary proposal. “However, subsequent information received indicated that the damage was more extensive than we had initially expected,” says Willie Esterhuyse, Commercial and Marketing Manager at EBH Namibia.
A site inspection, coinciding with the tanker’s trading patterns between Togo and Nigeria, was then proposed and undertaken in September 2016; for which EBHN sought the assistance of highly-skilled naval architects, 6Sigma.
“The challenge we faced was that the bow section of the Huascar was constructed of double curved plating. To remove this first and then repair it would have been very time-consuming; and therefore could have cost the owners a significant sum in lost charter fees. In keeping with EBHN’s dedication to the very highest standards of client satisfaction, we came up with a superior option,” he adds.
The EBHN project team therefore devised a ‘total solution’ repair strategy; which would not only save the vessel owners significantly financially, but also in terms of operational time.
“This option featured a reduced project repair time of just 20 days; and an approximately ten percent reduction in the overall cost of the repairs,” explains Esterhuyse.
“This repair strategy was to pre-fabricate the bulbous bow completely before the vessel was dry-docked. With the new section complete and ready for fitting, the Huascar could then be docked at our Namdock 3 Panamax-sized dock, and the damaged bow swopped out for the newly fabricated bow,” he adds.
However, the data gathered from the first site inspection was not sufficiently detailed to allow EBHN to fabricate the new bow section with an acceptable level of confidence. Working with 6Sigma, the original off-set tables of the Huascar were sourced from the original shipbuilders in Japan. From these, 6Sigma was able to develop three dimensional (3D) and fabrication drawings.
In November 2016, the owners accepted the proposal allowing EBHN sufficient time to immediately start sourcing materials and to commence with fabrication.
At EBHN’s well-equipped fabrication facility, teams quickly swung into action, with skilled and semi-skilled boilermakers, burners and welders working in day and night shifts running continuously in order to meet the stringent project completion deadline.
“CNC cutting, assembly, welding and quality control were all done in-house at the EBHN fabrication facility, supervised by 2 master boilermakers. The only aspect of the project not able to be completed in-house was the fabrication of the double curved plating, which we outsourced and then had freighted back to Namibia,” Esterhuyse comments.
He adds that the completed replacement bulbous bow was then transported on a flatbed vehicle from the fabrication facility to the vessel, which had in the meantime docked at Namdock 3.
“At an overall length of 176 m, breadth of 32.2m and weighing 25 060 tons, the Huascar is the widest and heaviest vessel ever lifted by EBHN; and our Namdock 3 Panamax-sized dock really came into its own in accommodating this vessel,” he points out.
EBHN’s rigging team furthermore did an excellent job in ensuring the safe dismounting of the damaged bow; as well as the safe and very precise positioning and installation of the new bow.
With welding of the new bow in place complete, the new section was then prepared for corrosion-coating and painting accordingly.
“We are delighted that the client was extremely pleased with the innovative, fast, cost-effective service that EBH Namibia’s fabrication, propulsion and mechanical teams delivered,” comments Hannes Uys, CEO of EBH Namibia.
“It was a privilege to be able to be of service to them, and to restore the bow of the Huascar to its former glory. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our project management and repair team, as it is this type of client-centric service that continues to fly EBH Namibia’s flag high as the shipyard of choice on the coast of West Africa,” Uys concludes.