Ready for Service

Monday, 6 July, 2015 - 12:00
The SOV Esvagt Froude will be used for service operations at EnBW Baltic 2 offshore wind farm for the next five years. (Photo: Esvagt)
The SOV Esvagt Froude will be used for service operations at EnBW Baltic 2 offshore wind farm for the next five years. (Photo: Esvagt)

Service Operation Vessels (SOV) are currently being celebrated as the solution for the servicing of offshore wind farms far from the coast. Or rather, celebrated by at least those who are pinning their hopes on this service concept, with Siemens at the forefront. The first two SOVs have meanwhile been christened and are ready for operation.

A freezer full of ice cream, available to all the crew 24 hours a day – this is just one of the details about the two new Esvagt Service Operation Vessels (SOV) operating for Siemens. Admittedly, this is not a technical detail, but this does not make it unimportant by a long chalk. The happiness of the crew on board and their ability – within what can reasonably be provided – to enjoy the highest levels of comfort, was namely a very conscious aim of the constructors. Apart from the chest of ice cream, other examples of this desire are the on-board fitness studio and cinema.

But now to the technical details: the identical vessels Esvagt Froude and Esvagt Faraday, christened on the 23rd and 25th June respectively in Rostock, are 83.7 m long and 17.6 m wide. Apart from the storage areas (300 m2 on deck and 430 m2 below), air-conditioned storage rooms and onboard workshops, crew transfer was a central design issue for the constructors.

Photo Gallery

The SOVs are equipped with two Safe Transfer Boats (STB), an Esvagt STB 7B, which can transfer three service technicians to a turbine, and an Esvagt STB 12A, which can transfer eight technicians. The development engineers put a lot of effort into the design of the two ships in order to be able to present perfected solutions. Photography was prohibited for the journalists, however; the competition should not have things made so easy for them. The two STBs are complemented by a gangway by Ampelmann. This enables the transfer of personnel even at significant wave heights of 2.5 m.


The Esvagt Froude has been chartered through Siemens Wind Power for five years with an option for a further five years. The Esvagt Faraday has been chartered for ten years with an option for a further five years.

The first experiences with the ships have already been gathered. Because the ships were ready for operation earlier than the wind farms for which they were due to service – namely EnBW Baltic 2 and Butendiek – the additions to the Esvagt fleet took up spontaneous tasks at Westermost Rough and Borkum Riffgrund. Within three months the Esvagt Froude alone carried out approx. 800 STB transfers, including numerous walks-to-work via Ampelmann. “We have had ample opportunity to train transfers and landings. We have transferred about 1,000 people,” says Vidar Nielsen, Master at Esvagt. “We can already say that the vessel is fantastic at doing the work it was designed for,” he continues.

The service concept

“The vessels are pioneer work for further offshore,” says Mark Albenze, CEO Global Wind Power and Renewables Service at Siemens. Up to 40 service technicians from Siemens are permanently at the wind farm thanks to the SOVs, which considerably lowers travel times. According to Siemens, the effective working time of the technicians is thus increased by up to 50 % compared to transfers using traditional Crew Transfer Vessels (CTV).

The SOVs are initially spending two weeks at the wind farm. Then they return to port, exchange goods and personnel, then head out to sea once more. In the long term it is planned for the SOVs to stay at sea for up to three months and to swap over the crew by CTV. The SOVs will thus become virtually hotel ships, only much better suited to the requirements of offshore wind power – especially thanks to the varied transfer options.

In Rostock, the service base of the Esvagt Froude, EnBW operates a warehouse that keeps the necessary spare parts for Baltic 2 ready and waiting. According to Graham Butt, 25 jobs have already been created in Rostock by the SOV base. For Butt, Associate Head of the Energy Department of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, this is good, but not enough. That the ships were built in Turkey by Havyard and fitted out in Norway was reason enough for him to stress at the christening that his federal state would also be able to gain points as a shipbuilding location for further projects.

The praise from all sides for the new SOVs is never-ending. Søren Nørgaard Thomsen, Esvagt’s CEO, says: “We implemented extraordinary ideas for an extraordinary vessel.” During an onboard tour of the Esvagt Froude you simply cannot miss the shine in people’s eyes, regardless of whether they are Esvagt or Siemens employees. When the SOVs stopped off briefly at the home port of Esbjerg, the crew and technicians also proudly showed their children their new place of work – and without doubt also the chest full of ice cream.

Katharina Garus




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