Sentinel Marine arrived on the Offshore Shipping scene in 2011 when an office was established in Singapore and new Khiam Chuan Marine designed 59.25m long/62t bollard pull Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessels (AHTS) were speculatively ordered on 25th July 2011 from Nam Cheong, and built at the Fujian South East Shipyard, with the aim of building up and operating a fleet in Asia. The first three were to be named Able Sentinel, Daring Sentinel and Epic Sentinel. However, whilst the AHTS newbuilds were progressing, some interested parties approached Sentinel Marine with an immediate need for such ships so the first three on order were sold prior to delivery. Hull SK65 was the first to be sold in October 2012 with SK67 disposed of in November that year. The fitting of twin bow thrusters was one of the main attractions of these 75m vessels. The company ordered replacement tonnage but has since built and resold prior to delivery around a dozen or more vessels in this manner.
In late 2012 the decision was taken to enter the North Sea market and a new Aberdeen office was established, and registered from 10th April 2013. The Aberdeen base primarily looks after the ERRV business in the North Sea whilst the Singapore office is responsible for all new builds (ordering the vessels, supervision during construction and sale and purchase of vessels as and when required).
The market in the North Sea was buoyant and in particular the Emergency Recovery & Rescue Vessel (ERRV) fleet at that time consisted of a significantly high proportion of older vessels. This expansion required an order for 8 ERRVs to provide a suitably backed-up service to clients. A charter fleet of ERRVs (known previously as standby vessels) needs a relief vessel in order to provide a 365 day per year service to customers. This permits each ship to be relieved, allowing them to return to port to change crews and replenish on-board supplies in rotation. The basic requirements for an ERRV in the North Sea are quite high. The UKCS has the highest requirements and standards of all the North Sea sectors. A standard vessel must be able to rescue and accommodate up to 300 people. Sentinel’s ERRV’s are being built to accommodate more than 300 persons and house advanced medical facilities, a dormitory for twenty beds, seated areas, toilets and showers. They can also perform emergency towing and are equipped with dynamic positioning systems. In partnership with Maas Capital Investments, an investment fund of ABN AMRO Group with a focus on the offshore oil and gas industry, the first four ERRVs were ordered on 18th May 2013 with an option for a further four as part of a project exceeding £100 million. Just prior to this, the company’s first PSV, Hull 487E, was launched on 28th March 2013.
The steel cutting for the first 61m ERRV (Hull SK85) took place at the Fujian Southeast Shipyard in China on 17th July 2013 and the 1,944gt Cygnus Sentinel (originally intended to be Cromarty Sentinel) was born with her keel laying following on 6th May 2014. Launch day was on 23rd August 2014 and the keel laying for Hull SK87 (Lundy Sentinel) followed four days later. The Fastnet Sentinel (Hull SK86) was launched on 29th September 2014 at the same yard followed by the Lundy Sentinel (Hull SK87) on 22nd December 2014. On 27th January 2015 the Fastnet Sentinel was delivered and deployed to the Falkland Islands. The Cygnus Sentinel was delivered 14th February 2015 before heading to the North Sea to begin a 5-year charter with Gaz de France on the Cygnus Gas Field, one of the largest gas fields in the southern North Sea. When the fleet of 8 ERRVs was ordered for the Aberdeen base there were around 125 ERRVs already at work in the North Sea with 60% of these being in excess of 40 years old or more. Most operators already had age stipulations with regard to the AHTS and PSV vessels being chartered and this routine was extended to ERRVs. Fuel consumption and emissions were lower and reliability was higher on Sentinel’s new offering of ERRVs, which placed the company at an advantage over competitors. Reliability is of huge importance because, if an ERRV suffers a failure, its associated oil or gas platform may have to cease production until the issue is resolved. Such a halt in output could cost in excess of $500,000 per day. ERRVs tend to be unique to the North Sea but Sentinel is confident that this manner of working could have a wider role beyond this region. The Lundy Sentinel was handed over on 19th August 2015 whilst on 25th June 2016 the Fastnet Sentinel made a notable transit through the Corinth Canal en-route to her next location of employment, Catania, Sicily. Hull SK88 became the last of the 61m ERRV quartet, was given the name Forties Sentinel and she was launched on 4th April 2015 and delivered on 25th February 2016.
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