Commercial maritime support vessels serve an extremely useful role in carrying out support operations for various established industries and projects. In order to adequately provide this support, these types of vessels are often equipped with highly sophisticated devices and technology. Such support vessels can be divided into a number of different categories, based on the kind of operations that are capable of performing.
Some offshore support vessels are seismic survey ships, some are platform supply vessels (PSB), some are considered anchor-handling tug and supply vessels (AHTS), some are offshore construction vessels (OCV), some are dive support vessels, some are standby vessels, some are remotely operated underwater support vessels, and some are inspection, maintenance, and repair vessels (IMR).
As you can see, commercial maritime support vessels can be specialized to perform a whole slew of different functions, and this makes them extraordinarily valuable. Here is a closer look at what some of these support vessels are capable of.
Seismic survey ship
This type of vessel assists with mapping geological structures on the floor of the sea, by firing air guns which transmit sound waves to the ocean floor. Sensitive listening devices which are towed behind the vessel can then pick up the echo of the shots. A ship like this must be capable of very accurate tracking, and its propulsion system must have minimal propeller-induced noise, so that it doesn’t interfere with readings taken by the sensitive survey equipment.
Platform supply vessel
A platform supply vessel is commonly associated with supplying offshore drilling rigs and production platforms. It will carry a number of supplies used by drilling rigs, which it loads at a designated shore area, and then carries out to a position near the oil rig. This kind of commercial vessel spends about 25% of its time loading supply materials, another 35% of its time unloading them on an oil rig, and about 40% of its time sailing back and forth.
Inspection, maintenance, and repair vessel
Ships like these are situated in dynamic locations offshore, and generally carry sophisticated equipment for well stimulation and maintenance functions such as coil tubing. The ships are also capable of carrying out general supply functions, as well as remotely-operated underwater vehicle functions.
Diving support vessel
This type of vessel carries dive equipment which is used for underwater tasks like maintaining and inspecting mobile platforms, wellheads, and pipelines with their related connections. The ship is generally fitted with a moonpool, which is a hole that is open to the sea, so that human divers and remotely operated vehicles can be exchanged with a given work site.
Construction support vessels
Ships in this category are designed to facilitate large projects which frequently require ships to stay in place for long periods of time. They are generally equipped with large unobstructed deck areas, and are able to support either surface construction or underwater construction and installation projects.
Anchor-handling tug supply vessel
Versatility is the name of the game for ships like these. They are capable of handling the mooring chains and anchors for drilling rigs, they can tow rigs and platforms to a specific site, and they are usually equipped with high winch capacity, as well as storage bins for chains and auxiliary handling equipment, and a stern roller which is used to make it easier to deploy or weigh anchors.
ROV support vessels
Remotely operated underwater vehicle support is provided by these kinds of ships, commonly outfitted with precision, computer-controlled devices that are capable of supporting a variety of different operations. They are also generally equipped with extra mess room facilities, client offices, and cabins, so that they can accommodate a commercial client’s ROV support crews.