Ship design and marine technologyA couple of years ago everyone was targeting containers and related trade. It seemed to be the only acceptable way of transporting cargo. What we see today is that slowly but surely shipping companies are once again reinvesting in specialised ship types. This trend is mostly visible in the heavy lifting industry and transportation of chemicals. Extremely specialised ships that are only able to transport parts of offshore windmills have been constructed, pushing the crew to new levels of specialised knowledge about their ships and trade.
The richness of the sea as a new territory for developing new activities and technics, has been discovered only recently. A few years ago, the sea was for ships and offshore industries like gas and oil extractions. Now people look at the sea for all possible activities they can imagine. The construction of offshore windfarms is a booming business. A look at the map of the North Sea and Baltic Sea shows us the amount of windfarms that are constructed or might be constructed. Together with these new activities, there is also an increase of specialised ships. As mentioned above, some new heavy lifting vessels are built to construct these windfarms. But there is need of a whole new fleet of specialised ships to be designed and built for this purpose.
Cable laying vessel
It must also be noted that the above is not restricted only to large construction vessels. To maintain these offshore energy parks, there is the need for large fleets of transport vessels. vessels to carry small crew members and maintenance personnel in and out of the windfarms is also needed.
For the Belgian windfarm area, which is a relatively small area, it is estimated that there will be 8.000 of these of these small transport vessels movements per year. Covering the entire North Sea area, we are talking about over 250.000 movements a year.
To make it safe for navigation around the windfarms and other offshore industries, there is the need for development of new intervention ships which will stay at sea as guard vessels, but can intervene whenever it is needed and can operate as a station tugboat.
The developing of new activities at sea is not limited to energy alone. There is an increase of demand for space for aquaculture, seaweed farming and other new and evolving activities.
All these activities need space at sea and are not only making it more difficult for common cargo vessels to manoeuvre, but also need their own specialized vessels. For each type of activity, a ship is being developed.
There are also the more futuristic ideas of creating floating houses or even villages, large hotel ships and even prisons. Although these ideas are not for the near future, it might be possible that they sail around within 30 years.