It is exercising its option on the construction of a further three field support vessels at the Astilleros Zamakona shipyard in Spain, to bring the total value of the project to over £55million.
The company announced details of its initial investment in six purpose-built ships last summer. The move both underlined its commitment to the North Sea and heralded its intention to seek business in the wider European offshore energy market.
Chief Executive Graham Philip said:
"Our decision to exercise the option re-affirms our confidence in the long-term strength of the European market and illustrates our resolve to remain the leading player in the sector.
"All nine vessels will carry a series of enhanced safety and operational features with fuel efficient diesel electric engines and state-of-the-art crew facilities. It is imperative in this competitive market to innovate and to provide the best possible service offering to our customers, and those are the key drivers behind the investment program."
IMT Marine Consultants of Montrose, Scotland, designed the new IMT 955 vessels. The first is to be delivered at the end of 2006 and will be called the Viking Discovery with a rolling schedule of delivery that will now incorporate the three additional vessels in late 2008/early 2009.
Graham Philip added:
"We may look to develop the capabilities of the later vessels even further to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our customer base with the highest possible standards of service.
"The new build program will allow us to replace older vessels whilst at the same time considerably increasing the number of multi-role vessels and improving the fleet's overall capabilities."
All the new vessels are being built to comply with the technical and operational specifications required to operate across the UK, Irish, Norwegian, Danish and Dutch sectors.
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