On July 8, the new fall pipe vessel Flintstone was virtually christened by Ms Tia Hellebaut, who literally passed on an Olympic flame in the huge party tent erected at the 'Zeestation' in the outer port of Zeebrugge. The flame then proceeded to Singapore by means of a long relay chain. There, the flame burned through a rope and the traditional champagne bottle crashed against the bow, christening the ship.
The Flintstone was built by the Sembawang shipyard in Singapore, commissioned by Tideway, the offshore branch for oil and gas activities of the Belgian dredging and environmental group DEME. The Flintstone can take 19,000 tons of quarry stone on board and, thanks to its highly sophisticated equipment, very precisely install it at record depths of up to 2,000 m.
The Flintstone is Tideway's third and largest fall pipe vessel, after the 11,500-ton Rollingstone and the 17,500-ton Seahorse. The vessel meets Ice Class criteria and as a result is able to work in the most extreme conditions.
A fall pipe vessel is a very exceptional vessel, with a space to store sorted quarry stone in the requested volume and grade. A 'fall pipe', which hangs under the ship, ensures that this quarry stone is placed at the exact location on top of pipelines or directly on the sea floor. For this, the bottom of the fall pipe is equipped with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). This ROV is operated from the deck and controls the placement of the quarry stone in three dimensions. Offshore stone dumping activities are usually performed in order to stabilise and protect pipelines and high-voltage cables. Tideway's new fall pipe vessel can carry out stone dumping operations to absolute record depths of up to 2,000 m.
Fall pipe vessel Flintstone.
The new ship will to a great extent further promote the oil and gas activities of the DEME Group. In the coming years, among its other activities the Group will focus on services to oil & gas companies, the mining industry and energy companies. In March of this year the DEME Group announced its plans to develop deep sea mining activities through the joint venture SEAFLORE, together with IHC Merwede. A ship such as the Flintstone, which is able to work at great depths, can be utilised for this as well.
Furthermore, recent market trends, such as the rising price of crude oil, make laying deep sea pipelines and protecting them deep at sea more feasible. New opportunities are arising with the exploration of deep sea oil fields off the coast of Brazil, West Africa and the polar regions. In this context, the Flintstone has a few important features.
The Flintstone is equipped with an installation for dynamic positioning (DP2). A highly sophisticated, remotely operated robot (Remotely Operated Vehicle, ROV) with an active wave and swell compensator and the newest measuring and surveying equipment. The ship has an Ice Class notation, and is thereby fully certified to work in arctic conditions. The potential to work at depths of up to 2,000 m is obviously a competitive advantage in itself. The cruising speed of 15 knots is a significant trump card. This speed enables it to travel more quickly from one quarry to another and thus to be operational for a longer duration at the actual site. The Flintstone has a 'green' design, and was built according to the Lloyd's Register Code for Environmental Protection. This implies, among other things, that energy-saving measures are fully utilised and that the emission of NOx is kept to an absolute minimum.