WATCH: Giant Supercat Pioneering Spirit Departs Rotterdam

pioneering spirit departs rotterdam
Pioneering Spirit. Image credit: Allseas

One of the most highly anticipated ships of the past decade has departed Rotterdam for a series of offshore trials prior to commissioning later this summer.

Allseas’ record-breaking single-lift installation/decommissioning and pipelay vessel Pioneering Spirit has been moored in Rotterdam’s Alexiahaven since January 2015 for installation, commissioning and testing of the topsides lift system. The giant twin-hulled vessel will now head to the Southern North Sea to perform offshore trials throughout August, which will include a series of test platform topsides installation and removal exercises under varying weather conditions.

At 382 meters (1,253 feet) long by 124 meters wide (407 feet), Pioneering Spirit (formerly Pieter Schelte) is one of the biggest ships ever constructed. The vessel features a unique twin-hull, with a 122m long and 59m wide slot in the bow that will allow the ship to install and remove decommissioned topsides and jackets of large offshore oil and gas platforms of up to 48,000 tonnes with a single lift. The vessel is also equipped for laying large pipelines with a capacity which will also make it the largest pipelay vessel.

After completing offshore trials, Pioneering Spirit is expected to sail north to the Yme field offshore Norway to remove the 13,500t Yme mobile offshore production unit (MOPU) for Repsol. After that, Pioneering Spirit will return to Rotterdam where the remaining four topsides lifting beams will be installed for the Shell Brent Delta topsides removal, scheduled for the summer of 2017.

Design for Pioneering Spirit was done entirely in-house by Allseas and inspired by offshore heavy lifting pioneer Pieter Schelte Heerema (1908–81). The vessel has been rumored to cost nearly $3 billion.