Shipyard Royal Niestern Sander has launched yard number 862. It is the world’s first ice-breaking walk-to-work vessel. Once completed, the icebreaker will operate in the harsh weather conditions on the east coast of Sakhalin, Russia, for the oil and gas industry.

After a tender procedure, shipyard Royal Niestern Sander and a joint-venture between Mercury Sakhalin and Pola signed an agreement for the construction of the world’s first shallow draught ice-breaking walk-to-work vessel. After delivery in 2022, Mercury Sakhalin will operate the vessel. Watch a video of the launch that took place just over a week ago below.

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Acting as an intermediary between both parties, Wagenborg Offshore has contributed to the project with its operational experience of sailing in shallow waters with ice breaking vessels in the Caspian as well as the walk-to-work track record in the southern North Sea. Together with the in-house design and shipbuilding expertise of Royal Niestern Sander, a new innovative type of walk-to-work vessel was born.

Year-round operational services

The shallow draught ice-breaking walk-to-work vessel is specially designed and optimised for year-round operations in the challenging conditions on the east coast of Sakhalin in temperatures ranging from -30 degrees to +35 degrees. By combining a shallow draught of 3.15 metres, a transit draught of 4.0 metres in open waters and a grounded bottom notation, the vessel can be deployed year-round.

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With proven Wagenborg technology of the icebreaking hull and pulling (ice milling) Azimuth thrusters, the vessel can break through ice up to 100 cm. The motion compensated gangway on this vessel is optimised for both winter and summer operations, resulting in multiple gangway positions. The vessel will perform year-round crew transfer services for up to forty persons from the shallow Nabil Port to offshore platforms near the east coast of Sakhalin. In addition, the vessel can be deployed for oil spill response services.

Walk-to-work specialist

The vessel is expected to be delivered in 2022 and strengthens the position of Niestern Sander in the construction of specialist offshore vessels, including icebreakers and walk-to-work vessels. The walk-to-work icebreaker can be considered one of the largest newbuild orders for the Dutch shipyard. In addition, various subcontractors and suppliers from the region are involved in the project for engineering, delivering steel, parts of the engine room, navigation and rescue equipment.

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