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Korean and Chinese yards in frame for world's most expensive vessel

Korean and Chinese yards in frame for world's most expensive vessel

Leiden, The Netherlands: Heerema Marine Contractors (HMC) has announced plans to order the world's largest crane vessel costing an estimated $1bn, which would make it by far the most expensive ship ever contracted. A tender will take place shortly to select the best shipbuilding yard, which the company says "will likely be in Korea or China".

"A new generation, deepwater construction vessel is needed to meet the demands of the national and international oil companies," explained ceo John Reed. HMC, the world's leading offshore construction contractor, provides full field development services which include pipe laying and lifting, necessitating massive-size equipment.

The world's largest crane vessel to date is the semi-submersible Thialf (pictured), also belonging to HMC, which was originally built in 1985 as the DB-102 by Japan's Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding (MES) and upgraded to 14,200 tons (2 x 7,100 ton dual-crane) lifting capacity and renamed in 2000.

Size of the new vessel will be about 220 metres by 88 metres, with lift capacity of the cranes yet to be determined but "at least comparable to that of the Thialf". In addition, it is promised to be "exceptional" in various aspects: speed, hull shape, pipe lay features in deepwater and shallow water, crane possibilities and capabilities to work in the Arctic."

HMC parent the Hereema Group comprises other companies including Dockwise, operator of 16 semi-submersible heavy transport vessels used to carry port and industry-related cargo as well as luxury yachts.  [30/11/06]