The Pioneering Spirit is an installation/ decommissioning and pipelay vessel and her conceptual design and the basic design of the novel twin hulls was completed by Swan Hunter (NE) Ltd, of Newcastle, who also provided engineering and construction support while she was being built.
The Panama-flag ship was built by the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co at its Geoje yard, South Korea, for Soc d’Exploitation Pieter Schelte MV, of Belgium, and her operators are Allseas Marine Contractors SA, of Chatel Saint Denis, Switzerland. Final completion work was being carried out at Rotterdam, where she arrived on Jan 8 this year.
The ship was formerly named Pieter Schelte after marine engineer Pieter Schelte Heerema, the father of the owner of Allseas, Edward Heerema. The name created controversy due to Mr Heerema’s service in the Nazi Waffen SS during the Second World War prior to August, 1943. He then disappeared. After the war, he was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail, though the court released him after 18 months on account of his “very important services to the resistance between August, 1943, and March, 1944.” Allseas claimed the name was “a fitting tribute to one of the pioneers of the offshore industry” but in February, following protests, it was changed to the Pioneering Spirit.
The ship’s twin-hull has an overall length of 1,565ft/477m, a length bp of 1,214ft./370m and a breadth of 407ft/124m and she has a draft of 33-82ft/10-25m. The main machinery is diesel-electric and she has eight MAN 11.5 MW diesel engines and one 4 MW harbour engine with two engines each in four separate engine rooms. The eight diesel generators develop a combined 95,000kW and drive 12 Rolls-Royce 5.5MW azimuth thrusters, giving a speed of 14 knots.
Accommodation is provided for 571. She has a topside lift capacity of 48,000 tonnes and is fitted with three transfer cranes, of 50 tonnes capacity and a special purpose crane of 600 tonnes capacity.
The ship’s first task involves the decommissioning of Delta oil platform in Shell’s Brent Field in the North Sea, 115 miles north-east of the Shetland Islands. The oil field was discovered in 1971 and the Delta platform, one of four in the field, will be the first to be demolished. The platforms are named Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta, and only Charlie is still producing. As well as gas, the Brent Field has been one of the most productive oilfields ever discovered