The Vroon shipping group was founded by the Vroon family over a century ago in the Port of Breskens, the Netherlands

Fleets ahead

Initially the company traded in coal, fertilisers and agricultural products. Then in 1952 the first dry cargo ship was built. From then on the company rapidly developed its shipping activities in many different markets.

Today Vroon is a dynamic and ambitious international shipping company, active in a number of specialised and commodity-type shipping segments. Vroon operates and manages a diverse fleet of approximately 140 vessels. Furthermore, a large fleet-expansion and new building programme, of more than 50 vessels will secure further growth in the years ahead.

Vroon’s offshore support vessels operate under the Vroon Offshore Services (VOS) banner, primarily in the North Sea, Mediterranean and South and East Asia. VOS is the leading maritime offshore services supplier on the Dutch continental shelf. Based in Den Helder, the Netherlands, the company’s focus is primarily on North Sea operations in three main areas: platform supply, safety standby and diving support services.

In addition, the business is specialised in offshore windmill installation projects through its subsidiary Marine Projects International in the UK. A wide range of other offshore services are also offered on a worldwide basis, including diamond mining and exploration, seismic/survey support, cable guard, cable repair/laying, maintenance, scientific support, and rescue and recovery.

Rik Zwinkels, chartering and operations manager for VOS comments on what sets the company apart from its competitors: “We are continually striving to maintain our reputation as a premier shipping company. We want to be a reliable and cost effective partner to our customers, whilst constantly meeting and exceeding their needs. We also operate to extremely strict quality, safety and environmental standards.”

VOS has experienced significant growth over the last few years through its large fleet expansion and new building programme, which will hopefully secure the future of the business. With growth in mind, the most recent addition to the Vroon group is Nomis Shipping Ltd. Nomis currently owns and operates a fleet of 20 emergency response and rescue vessels (ERRV), 12 anchor handling tug supply vessels (AHTS), one medium-size platform supply vessel (PSV) and one dynamically positioned dive support/ROV vessel – all supporting the offshore oil and gas industry. Furthermore, the company employs approximately 720 sea staff and 29 shore-based employees.

Nomis will continue to operate from its present offices in Aberdeen and Singapore. The existing management team at Nomis will remain in place and there will be no change to any contractual relationships with customers, crews, employees or suppliers.

This acquisition follows the purchase of leading emergency response and rescue vessel operator Viking Offshore Services in 2007. The acquisition saw Aberdeen-based Viking Offshore renamed Vroon Offshore Services Ltd (VOSL) and become the UK base for VOS. It also created one of the largest offshore support fleet in Europe.

VOSL has now embarked on an ambitious new-build programme, which will see 15 new vessels join its fleet. All the new vessels, of similar design, are being constructed at the Astilleros Zamakona shipyard in Spain and are to be delivered in a rolling programme until mid 2011. The new-build programme is also testimony to VOSL’s confidence in its long-term growth strategy in the European offshore energy market.

Looking at new builds in the overall group, the ABG Shipyard in India has recently delivered the highly impressive new diving support vessel ‘VOS Satisfaction’ to Vroon. This is the first vessel to be delivered to the group from ABG. The shipyard is now building another two vessels for the organisation.

VOS Satisfaction is a dynamic positioned ROV/survey vessel of approximately 60 metres in length. The vessel, with four point mooring system, can carry out a wide range of services including diving, rescue, offshore supply and external fire fighting. In addition, the Satisfaction can transport pipes, fresh water, diesel oil and materials, and move people between platforms and shore.

VOS has entered into an agreement with DeepOcean for the charter of the Satisfaction. The vessel will be outfitted with multi-beam echo-sounders and a ROV system to perform route survey and seabed mapping tasks, plus general lay support to clients with projects in the southern part of the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. The vessel will be chartered for three years, with another two yearly options available, and will be operated from DeepOcean’s offices in Den Helder and Norwich.

The Vroon group as a whole looks to update its fleet on a regular basis. Another recent addition to the company’s fleet is the VOS Tracker. This vessel is an emergency rescue and response vessel and is the first in a series of four vessels being built by Damen Shipyards for the Dutch continental shelf, which will be operated by VOS. All four vessels are due to be delivered by mid 2008. The innovative design of the vessels has been focused on simplicity, functionality and crew comfort. The result is a completely new concept for a 47 metre long and 11 metre wide safety standby vessel. The VOS Tracker was followed by the VOS Trader in December 2007 and the VOS Trapper in February 2008, while the VOS Traveller is due in May 2008.

Other additions to Vroon’s fleet include the Peruvian Express and the Philippine Express – both bulk carriers. Starting out with a fleet of just 13 vessels in 2005, VOS has grown significantly over the years, and today the company operates over 100 ships. Rik concludes: “Looking to the future we plan to update our existing fleet, phase out older vessels and continue to investigate new opportunities within the offshore market. As the price of new-builds is increasing we will be looking at purchasing second-hand ships or vessels, which are already under construction. We also plan to increase our presence in all our markets, including the North Sea, Far East and Mediterranean. In addition to achieving these goals, we will continue to provide a high quality service and remain the preferred partner for our customers.”

Vroon Offshore Services

Services: Specialised shipping