FreeStar Subsea Services is a new company born from the merger of Vriezoo ROV Services and Mark Offshore. The collaboration offers a combination of remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and survey support services with FreeStar’s own, recently acquired and outfitted vessel, the SSV Navicula Star.

While most mid-sized subsea companies specialise in either vessel or ROV services, FreeStar’s owners believe that this combination will give the new offshore service provider a competitive edge.

Founders Mark van der Star and Willem de Vries developed this concept over the course of several years before having the opportunity to actively and commercially join forces and acquire their first vessel Navicula Star from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ).

‘With the purchase of this vessel, our journey began,’ says Van der Star, who has 25 years of experience as a sailor, shipowner, and both operations and commercial director. ‘The SSV Navicula Star is equipped with an onboard ROV to quickly respond and save costs at the start of a project. The vessel can accommodate eleven people and is equipped with a crane, two davits and an A-frame with several winches, for deploying and/or recovering a variety of loads into or out from the water. The ROV control and survey desk are situated inside at deck level for quick response to the workdeck. With a draught of only 1 metre, it is also capable of beaching. In our view, this makes the Navicula Star the ultimate shallow water vessel.’

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FreeStar aims to offer a comprehensive suite of subsea services, including bathymetric and geotechnical surveys, cable protection, and burial operations. ‘With our fleet of five offshore and four inshore ROV systems and the Navicula Star, we can provide our clients with complete service offerings,’ explains De Vries, who, like Van der Star, also has years of experience, sixteen of which running his own underwater inspection business. ‘Safety is our top priority, and our procedures are ISO certified and comply with voluntary ISM standards.’

Smart Ship

Acquiring a new vessel requires time to fully understand its systems. Therefore, FreeStar Subsea Services engaged TechBinder with their Smart Vessel Optimizer (SVO) to connect all electrical systems and optimise power management. Techbinder’s AI capabilities are instrumental in understanding a vessel’s power dynamics and make data-driven decisions. With the help of the SVO technology, the Navicula Star will be the first 44-year-old vessel to become a truly “Smart Ship”.

In terms of ROV and survey services, FreeStar has opted to collaborate with Periplus and their GR:Dit system to map all collected data, web-based, and make it accessible for its customers. GR:Dit is an interactive map enabling users to store and analyse all kinds of spatial geodata. The system provides clients with direct access to the data while the survey and ROV mission are still ongoing.

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Reducing and monitoring emissions

Striving for sustainable operations is at the heart of FreeStars’ operation and management. At Vriezoo, all ROV operations and its workshop are fully electrified and the company itself has very limited exhaust fumes. The CO2 output is kept to a minimum and avoiding unnecessary exhaust systems in operations is a constant effort. This goal is embedded in FreeStar’s business model.

Although the Navicula Star is a diesel-powered vessel, it will run on biofuel, such as HVO. The SVO technology will constantly monitor the output of exhaust fumes and register the CO2 output of the vessel and later also monitor the entire company, for which this technology is also suited. This will enable FreeStar and its partners to identify energy consumption and reduce it where possible.