Starting off with a Damen Shoalbuster and just two employees, ST Marine Support has steadily expanded. The Harlingen-based company was established by two childhood friends, Rienk Switijnk and Vasco Tammes, who had always dreamt of having their own shipping company. Rienk had worked on a coaster with his father and Vasco had experience with workboats. The two had also worked for Damen Marine Services.
Spotting a gap in the dredging assistance market, the partners decided to turn their dream to reality and approached the banks. Vasco comments: “This was in 2003. It took quite a few years to get the support, but we managed. Our first vessel was a Damen Shoalbuster 2308. We would have preferred a Multi Cat but couldn’t afford it at that time and the Shoalbuster fitted the market requirements perfectly.”
From Shoalbuster to Multi Cat
The Shoalbuster, named Odin, was ideal for dredging assistance tasks. She started off in Belgium and worked on projects from Romania to Spain. In Romania Odin helped with an oil pipe-laying project, carrying out dredging support activities. In Spain she was deployed on a gas pipe project, linking Mallorca to the mainland.
After one year, the partners decided a ‘new Odin’ was in order to take on more challenging work. The versatile Multi Cat 3013 was first choice. “The ‘second Odin’ was a new Damen model then and was tailor-made for us by Damen Shipyards Hardinxveld. She is a large vessel with a lot of bollard pull – 35 tonnes – which is very important when assisting dredgers, which are also increasing in size.”
Odin is 29.90 x 13 metres wide, with a workdeck of 220 m², which can bear a weight of 15 tonnes/m².
Additionally, she is equipped with two strong, towing and anchor handling winches of 40 tonnes and 100 tonnes pull and has two large cranes from HS Marine Cranes. These can lift 22.8 tonnes at 13.10 metres. Odin’s A-frame makes her suitable for ploughing operations.
“This new vessel was a big step for us. Compared to the original Odin, which couldn’t lift the large pipes, our new Multi Cat could handle everything the dredging and offshore industry threw at us!” Following acquisition, ST Marine Support sold the predecessor vessel.
“Odin went straight to work, and was mainly deployed on dredging jobs in the UK and Belgium. She also went to the massive Wheatstone LNG project in Australia for a year. Odin proved herself then and still does today. She is very suitable for the dredging business, particularly because she combines a shallow draught with enormous power,” stresses Vasco.
In November 2012, ST Marine Support ordered a second Multi Cat 3012. Like the Odin, she was customised by Damen Shipyards Hardinxveld.
"We really like to build at Damen Hardinxveld because they really listen to our ideas and implement them, which is great for any owner."
Second Multi Cat
Delivered in March 2013, the Nero has an increased bollard pull of 38 tonnes and a stronger anchor-handling winch. The Nero is 29.9 x 13 metres. She has a workdeck of 220 m² with a strength of 15 tonnes/m² and is equipped with two strong winches of 40 tonnes and 150 tonnes pull. She also has two large HS Marine Cranes, which can lift 13.5 tonnes at 18 metres.
Nero has mainly been working in Europe in the dredging industry, and assisting with offshore cable-laying and anchor-handling. She got off to a slow start given the dip in the industry in 2013, but since then she has been very active, with no signs of a slowdown.
“Odin just got back to her home port and will go straight to a new dredging and beach reclamation project in the UK and Nero is busy on a cable laying project for offshore wind farms in Germany, assisting the cable-laying barge with anchor-handling and supplies.
“There is a lot of demand for the flexibility of a vessel like the Multi Cat,” Vasco adds. For example, its capacity for anchor-handling.
"Because of the comprehensive package of auxiliary equipment on deck such as the large cranes, heavy winches and hydraulic pins, this can be done in a safe and efficient manner."
Swiftly & safely
And, with a bollard pull of 35-38 tonnes, they are suitable for towage. “They have a large bunker capacity of +200 m³ and are equipped with a towing winch of 40 tonnes pull and 100 tonnes holding power.” The winch holds a wire of 600 metres. “They are also very suitable for handling floating hoses. Because it is possible to hoist a floating hose on deck with two cranes, the work can be done swiftly and safely.
“Both of us have worked for Damen Marine Services so we know the quality of the Multi Cat and we know the organisation. Everything is thought about. The Multi Cat is ideal for the business we are working in, which can often be in fairly harsh seas. It has the power and strength needed.
"Multi Cats, like most Damen vessels, are also standardised, well proven designs. This makes it easy for our crews to go from one vessel to another."
Both vessels are going to be working in the Baltic in the coming months. “It looks like it’s going to be busy, especially in the dredging sector and offshore wind industry. We are very positive, definitely.”