DUC Marine Group first emerged in 1984 focusing predominantly on providing diving services to inshore projects. An initial foray into offshore work began in 1987, and since then the company has steadily been expanding both into the international inshore market and the offshore sector. Today, DUC operates two vessels on its own fleet, the largest being a 56-metre multipurpose diving support vessel (DSV) called Ram, perfectly suited to undertake coastal operations with two cranes and a four-point mooring system. However, as the company looks towards the offshore renewables and oil and gas markets as its major opportunity for the future, a second state-of-the-art vessel is currently being built.
“Ram is employed throughout the year and we have been chartering several vessels that were either too big or too small for the required services,” explains Henk Kapitein, Owner of DUC Marine Group. “The charter vessels would have insufficient accommodation, deck space or cranage, no proper mooring system, or they were simply too overkill and completely cost ineffective. Some of the bigger vessels were using up to 12 tonnes of fuel per day.”
The decision was made then to order a purpose built vessel to support the growing demand for DUC’s services in the offshore market. Appropriately named the MPSV Solution and with the official naming ceremony taking place in May 2016, it was decided that the vessel would remain a Dutch enterprise with naval architects Hernand Jansen, hull yard Shipcon and outfitting-yard Hoekman Shipbuilding all based in Holland.
“We believe that at 55 metres, Solution is perfectly sized with 42 beds on board, 250 square metres of deck space and a proper four point mooring system, which can be radio controlled,” details Henk. “It has a shallow draught, so can be operated near to shore, is capable of beaching, and has two moon pools for survey work. There are two knuckle boom cranes mid-ship (90Tm) and on the aft deck (290Tm), and the main crane includes a tentonne active heave compensated winch. It is more or less the Swiss army knife of vessels, particularly for the offshore wind industry.”
Displaying an average fuel consumption of around three tonnes a day, the smaller but well-equipped MPSV Solution is a perfect fit for today’s offshore industries, particularly amidst challenging economic conditions. Henk notes that with the state of the current oil price, more and more service companies are starting to diversify from oil and gas into renewables making it a very crowded and competitive market place. “It is getting tougher, but we think with this new vessel we can provide a one-stop-shop for clients,” Henk adds. “We can provide rope access, we have the divers, we can perform the surveys and so on, so as soon as Solution is ready we can start promoting ourselves as a complete service package and we think this will be of interest to the market.”
Alongside this fleet expansion DUC has also been making significant progress towards gaining full accreditation within the industry. Over the past few years the company has invested heavily to achieve ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and SCC two-star certification. Helping to deliver such quality is a team of committed and highly experienced divers. “We employ most of our divers directly, which means that our personnel are committed and we can keep that excellent know-how within DUC Marine Group,” says Henk. “With the business, many of these divers have amassed years of experience diving in inshore conditions with strong currents and with numerous vessels, so they have a DNA within the company to operate and adapt to changing conditions whether they be in or offshore.
“We’ve got a great family-feel and a lot of our operatives are able to use this open culture to think very inventively and apply new solutions to projects. We try to monitor our customer satisfaction scores with regular questionnaires and we have averaged about 8.8 over the past two years, which is fantastic for us.”
The addition of the MPSV Solution will be vital to DUC expanding its capacity within the market whilst at the same time providing a cost effective service within a highly competitive sector. Over the coming months the new vessel will enter service and the company is confident that it will start to show its talents immediately. “The focus for the next year is going to be trained mainly on the wind industry but oil and gas will also feature,” Henk concludes. “We expect to sign a joint venture agreement in Iran over the next couple of months to take advantage of the growing opportunities for offshore maintenance and inspection work in the Middle East. In the longer term we continue to see the biggest opportunities in offshore, rather than inshore projects, and I can see us expanding into ROV services as well.”
The challenges of low oil prices are sending reverberations throughout the offshore industry and these pressures are facing everybody. However, the need to continue operation remains and companies like DUC that are able to adapt and refocus their market offering are those best equipped to overcome the stresses. Whilst operators are looking to bring the cost of offshore work down, with a clear strategy and a growing fleet of perfectly suited vessels, it looks like DUC Marine Group may just have the solution.
DUC Marine Group
Services: Diving and construction services to offshore and inshore industries