As the older offshore oil and gas production fields are approaching the end of their useful life, the industry is moving to deeper waters to find replacement fields. Significant ultra deepwater fields in water depth greater than 5,000 feet have been found off the coasts of Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa. These fields are typically several hundreds of miles away from the closest port. The support and supply vessels serving drillships, FPSO’s and other floating facilities must be capable of traveling these long distances within a reasonable time. A traditional OSV cruising at 13 knots takes 15 to 24 hours each way bringing and returning fluids, supplies and equipment to the rig. In many cases, that is too long. This has created a need for faster vessels. This new generation of vessels is known as FSV’s (Fast Supply Vessels). FSV’s are usually built in aluminum material and have cruising speeds in the range of 25 to 40 knots. Most FSV’s transport crews as well as supplies. They are equipped with dynamic positioning systems to IMO standards DP-2 or DP-3.
To accommodate the need for speed as well as the DP capability requirement, Thrustmaster offers waterjets for main propulsion of these vessels. Thrustmaster’s waterjets cover a range from 100kW to 6,400kW. They are equipped with reverse buckets of double cheek design. In combination with the steering nozzle, the double cheek bucket allows a large envelope of jet direction angles, facilitating the kind of vector control needed for dynamic positioning. The jets are made in marine grade aluminum with a 316 stainless steel pump section to provide long term longevity and reliability in this demanding application.
To complete the DP capability of FSV’s, Thrustmaster offers complete product lines of aluminum tunnel thrusters and aluminum retractable azimuth thrusters. The first Thrustmaster aluminum tunnel thrusters were built for aluminum hull mine hunters of the US Navy in 1984. Hundreds of aluminum thrusters have since been supplied to aluminum boat builders in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama starting in 1987. Almost all of those vessels are still operating and thruster failures are rare.
In recent years, shipyards in Brazil, Dubai, Vietnam, Hong Kong, France, The Netherlands, Thailand, Malaysia and many other locations started building aluminum FSV’s. They use Thrustmaster waterjets and bow thrusters.