Operators have recently placed orders worth approximately £130million in total for new tonnage in an 18-vessel-strong modernization program also fuelled in part by strategic plans to explore opportunities in new operating markets.
There has been a series of announcements in recent months by members of the Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel Association (ERRVA):
ERRVA Chairman John Wilson said:
"These investments reflect both the current upturn in North Sea activity and the confidence of rescue and recovery vessel operators in the province's long-term prospects. "If you take into account other developments such as BUE Marine's order for a new vessel – currently under construction in Singapore and due for delivery in June 2006 to support its operations in other provinces – they indicate a sense of stability and optimism in our sector generally.
"An ongoing program of modernization is key to ensuring the sector is equipped to meet the needs of the offshore industry for many years to come, and to positioning members to exploit opportunities in other geographical markets as they arise.
"More broadly, the sector is adapting to meet the changing circumstances of the industry it serves.
"There will always be a requirement for such vessels as long as manned installations remain the focus of offshore exploration and production activity – not least in emergency circumstances when weather conditions, for example, may preclude the deployment of other rescue services. And as the infrastructure grows older, weather profiles continue to change and the risk of human error remains, it is critically important that rescue and recovery vessels respond.
"ERRVA members are doing so by designing vessels that meet those challenges, by introducing more sophisticated rescue equipment and by updating and enhancing training techniques all the time.
"Our emergency response and rescue vessel activity is maturing into one of the finest rescue services of its kind in the world, but we can never be complacent."
Around 3,000 seafarers are employed on the 120 vessels deployed on station throughout the year, in all weathers, as a 'safety blanket' for offshore crews. They also fulfill a series of additional roles, including pollution control assistance and anti-collision monitoring.
John Wilson added:
"ERRVA has been in existence now for over 20 years but the role of its members is not a prominent one unless they are called into action. Yet it is these ships and their crews that are the first on scene in any major incident offshore, providing the front line of the rescue services that offshore operators require in the event of an emergency occurring."
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