By R. Bruce Striegler

Orders two new 22,500-tonne module carriers

Dutch heavy lift and transport giants BigLift Shipping and RollDock Shipping announced they are forming a joint venture called BigRoll Shipping and launching the venture with construction of two new carriers for ultra large and heavy modular cargoes. Arne Hubregtse, managing director of BigLift said in an interview, “With cargoes becoming larger, both our companies saw potential in designing new module carriers with a focus on short loading and discharging times.” The new vessels will be delivered by the end of 2014 and early 2015.

The new carriers will have dynamic positioning capabilities and operate under Finnish-Swedish ice class 1A notations. Dynamic positioning is a computer-controlled system which allows a ship to automatically maintain position and heading using its own propellers and thrusters, and is commonly used on vessels working in off-shore drilling where precision positioning is required. The ice class notations were developed as regulatory requirements and first published in 1890. The restrictions declare minimum requirements for ships that may require icebreaker assistance and were designed to increase safety for vessels operating regularly in winter conditions.

Hubregtse says, “Both our fleet and that of Big Roll operate worldwide, but what we’ve done with the new module carriers that make them unique is design them to the Finnish-Swedish ice class notations, which means they are capable of performing in the Arctic region, whether Canadian or European, and these zones will be a target for new business as off-shore exploration and development increases.” He notes that the Brazilian coast, the North Sea and coast of Western Africa are a few of the global locations where offshore oil and gas development is ramping up. Other sectors Mr. Hubregtse says are potential business opportunities include the power generation sector, container cranes and shipyard industries.

Designated “MC-Class”, the two new carriers have an overall length of 169 metres and a beam of 42 metres. Mr. Hubregtse explains that in order to provide a deck space as large and flexible as possible, the main deck is completely free of manholes, air heads and other obstructions to offer a clear deck space of 125 x 42 metres which offers deck load capacity of 20 tonnes. He says the new vessels will accommodate loading or unloading over the vessels’ stern or side by roll-on roll-off or skidding. A ballast capacity of 12,000 cubic metres per hour will ensure fast loading and unloading. The new vessels are planned to have an operating speed of approximately 13 knots.

Mr. Hubregtse says, “I am very excited about this joint venture. Not only about designing, managing and operating the vessels, but also in seeing BigLift, RollDock and BigRoll working together on special projects worldwide. As partners in BigRoll and having the innovative MC class available, we can make a difference and add value.”