PSV conversions need commitment

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

14 October 2016


Finding new employment opportunities for laid-up PSVs is something that most offshore owners are fully engaged upon as activity still languishes at low level. PSVs do offer a good platform for conversion not least because they are designed to be flexible workhorses with a wide range of uses. At least two shipbuilders with a strong presence in the offshore sector have now declared their intention to be involved in any such opportunities that present themselves. Earlier this year Netherlands-based Damen announced that it was interesting in becoming involved and suggested that future uses could include aquaculture, defence and accommodation among others. However, there has been no further news as to any specific conversion project. In August, Maersk Supply Service reported the sale of a surplus PSV to interests outside of the offshore sector and investigation by ShipInsight revealed it to be destined for conversion into a floating power station. This week, Norwegian shipbuilder Ulstein revealed plans to produce modular conversion units that could be used to add to or change a ship’s intended purpose. According to Ulstein, mobilisation could be carried out in a few days by installing the pre-manufactured modules on the ship, and the ship can get quickly into service. Within a short period of time, a platform supply vessel can reappear as an offshore wind service / accommodation vessel, subsea construction (IMR) vessel or a vessel for ROV services. The modules can be adapted to the customer's specific wishes and requirements. Ulstein also suggested that PSVs would make ideal candidates for permanent conversion into expedition cruise ships or for aquaculture related purposes. There is however, one major obstacle with any potential conversion and that is that if the vessel is not leaving the sector completely, then without a specific contract agreed beforehand, the current owners would not be in a position to commit the necessary funds. As Island Offshore’s CEO Havard Ulstein pointed out in a press conference in September that would be throwing good money after bad.