Increased activity in the submarine telecom and offshore renewables sectors has seen a dramatic rise in the usage of Sea Stallion cable ploughs designed and built by IHC Engineering Business (EB). Sea Stallion ploughs that have been 'resting' since the collapse of the submarine telecoms industry in 2001 have been brought back into service as this industry expands once more whilst Sea Stallion ploughs are being used at the majority of new offshore windfarm projects to install and protect submarine power cables.
EB has also recently received an order from Tyco Telecommunications (US) for an all new Sea Stallion 3 plough system for delivery Christmas 2008.
"We are delighted to see this superb workhorse back in demand," says Dr Tony Trapp, Managing Director of EB. "A Sea Stallion 3 has been mobilised on the CS Durable by Tyco and has been working hard in the South China Sea; a second is being bought back into service by Tyco to support cable operations in the Atlantic, and now they have ordered a third Sea Stallion 3. This is an important milestone as it is the first new plough system we have supplied to the submarine telecoms industry since the 2001 collapse, and the order highlights both the resurgence of this industry, and the technical superiority of the Sea Stallion plough technology. "
The new plough being built on Tyneside for Tyco Telecommunications will be capable of burial up to 3m, able to work in water depths up to 2000m, be supplied with a buoyant umbilical to shorten launch and recovery times and improve productivity; and feature an advanced control system in a 20' air conditioned control cabin. All EB cable ploughs feature a unique share design that allows aggressive cable burial in a wide range of seabed conditions whilst minimising the residual tension in the installed cable. An advanced SCADA/PLC based control system permits accurate operation of the plough whilst providing comprehensive 'as laid' data.
Orders from the offshore renewable energy industry
It is not only the telecoms industry where EB is seeing an increase in interest and orders. They have recently supplied a specialised Chalk Share to Subocean Group for use on the Thanet windfarm project; and the Sea Stallion 4 supplied to Visser & Smit Global Marine Contracting will be used on both the Thorntonbank and Gunfleet Sands windfarms.
The Sea Stallion 4 differs from Sea Stallion 3 in that it is specifically designed for the installation of large diameter, stiff power cables in tough seabed conditions. It has proved ideal for offshore wind developments and again its aggressive burial and reliability has come in for much praise from operators.
Sea Stallion background
"Our Sea Stallion plough range was launched some ten years ago and set new standards of submarine telecom cable protection in the then buoyant and booming submarine telecoms market," explains Tony Trapp. "The ploughs demonstrate technical superiority, in terms of better cable burial and reliable long term operation in a wide range of seabed conditions and have established a hugely successful track record.
"Then the telecoms industry went belly up. Cable ships were converted and ploughs mothballed including the two Sea Stallion 3 spreads. It is marvellous to see those mothballs discarded, the telecoms industry taking off again, and the Stallions firmly back in full time service."