February 16, 2016

October 21, 2015, 1600 hours: BOURBON's Bourbon Liberty 207 begins a pipe laying operation over the Lakach oil and gas field. Two pipelines, each one 38km long, must be laid in 20 to 50 meters of water. "It's the first continental offshore development project in Mexico," explains Rémi Xiberras, the captain of the vessel, one of 2 AHTS vessels mobilized for the mission.  Her role? Moving the barge, Castoro 10 (from the company, Saipem), tasked with welding the sections of pipe together. "In concrete terms, this consists of raising the 8 anchors connected to the barge, then repositioning them a bit further along, in order to move the barge as welding progresses," the captain explains.

So far, 7.4 km of pipe have been laid, with 600 anchor moves performed. It is a complex, painstaking task, since the barge has to position the pipes on the sea bed. "We have mobilized all of BOURBON's cutting-edge skill in the field of positioning and anchor handling. The logistical support of our Mexican joint-venture, Naviera Bourbon Tamaulipas, has also proven quite valuable," Rémi Xiberras adds.

"We have mobilized all of BOURBON's cutting-edge skill in the field of positioning and anchor handling."





When Rémi Xiberras arrived on-site on October 13, 2015, the barge was already in port. "Operations had been scheduled for that day, but we remained on stand-by until October 20th, because of bad weather,"  he explains.  Things did not stop there. Several times during the mission, it was necessary to tow the barge back to port in order to shelter it from storms. "An AHTS may be powerful and versatile, but it is not invincible in bad weather. Those are the times when you have to be aware of the vessel's operational limitations and know when to stop, so as not to put the crew's lives at risk," the captain stresses.

Compliance with safety rules is vital at all times. The safety aspects were also the subject of an in-depth analysis prior to operations. "Together with our client, Saipem, we reviewed our safety standards, in order to establish a custom set of best practices. They take into account the various aspects of the project, particularly handling anchors weighing 7 tons a piece," says Rémi Xiberras.

"We reviewed our safety standards, in order to establish a custom set of best practices."


Rémi Xiberras is used to spot operations like these, where the vessel is chartered for a single mission under a short-term contract. Captain of the Bourbon Liberty 207 since 2014 - after being a Surfer pilot, lieutenant on a PSV, and mate aboard an AHTS with BOURBON - he has already fulfilled 7 contracts in as many different countries. His mission before this one: leaving Abidjan to go tow a jack-up rig in Trinidad and Tobago and bring it to the coast of Surinam, then tow it back to Trinidad and Tobago, after a 2 month drilling operation.

Total distance: 2 x 500 nautical miles. "There again, the weather conditions were difficult," says Rémi Xiberras. "In both cases, we had to work in fits and starts, moving like an accordion. We couldn't do anything for several days, and then conducted some very intense operations in a short period of time. It's also what makes this job so exciting," he concludes.

Bourbon behind the scenes
February 02, 2015

The performance of a DP vessel results from the combination of its ability to hold a position, which depends on available power among other things and on the built-in redundancy level. If one system fails, the second one takes over and the inertia of the system in question will make it possible to complete an operation safely. So, on a DP2 vessel, we find a multitude of duplicate systems, including two operating consoles and two DP monitors.

Since the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has established three redundancy classes, vessels may be DP1, DP2, or DP3. Maneuvering a nearly 100 meter-long vessel just few meters from a platform that weighs thousands of tons and can be as big as a football field requires great vigilance from the crews of supply vessels. When the weather conditions deteriorate, this type of operation becomes particularly delicate.

" The BOURBON philosophy is to maximize a vessel's capabilities in order to guarantee service continuity "
Anthony Grande DP Superintendent

Instant course correction

"Being DP2 does not just mean duplicating the DP computers" says Antony Grande, DP Superintendent. "Aboard a DP2 vessel or higher, duplication and redundancy are more comprehensive and cover all systems critical to maintaining the vessel in position, such as propulsion and power generation and distribution. Redundancy affects all the systems and sub-systems that may be involved in holding the vessel in position."

Whether its used to remain in position for a cargo operation or maintaining a heading and speed for a cable laying operation, the DP system has the ability to react at any moment to information transmitted to it by sensors regarding the impact of wind on the hull, draft or an external force generated by towing, a submarine cable being installed, or an underwater pipe during a pipe-laying operation.

"If the vessel has to reposition herself during DP operations from point A to point B, or follow an ROV conducting a pipe inspection, the DP system continuously calculates the difference between the set location and the actual place where the ship is located. Then the correction is immediate. In the case of maintaining a fixed position, the principle is the same...", explains Antony.

A competitive advantage

Almost all BOURBON supply vessels are now equipped with dynamic positioning. For example, the Bourbon Liberty series, PSV and AHTS vessels, are DP2, while the IMR vessels of the Bourbon Evolution 800 series are DP3. As for FSIVs, they are mostly DP1 or DP2.

"Operations don't all require a maximum level of redundancy but the BOURBON philosophy on the subject is to maximize a vessel's capabilities and to guarantee continuity of service," continues Antony Grande. "When a ship is DP2, it therefore operates in DP2 configuration, even if the DP1 may be sufficient under recognized standards."

This is a real competitive advantage, strengthened by the standardization of the fleet, which on one hand facilitates familiarization and use of the systems that outfit BOURBON vessels for DP operators, while it also allows these same operators to work on a wide range of vessels.

Bourbon behind the scenes