C&M Acquires Multi-purpose Support Vessel

Following a successful management buy-out, C&M is investing $100 million in the purchase and conversion of a multi-purpose support vessel capable of operating anywhere-in-the-world.

The 'Ice Maiden', formerly the MV Paardeberg a 14,000-tonne Russian Class AAA ice-breaker, is almost as long as two football pitches. The vessel is currently in the Atlantic Marine Shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, where C&M Marine Services is converting her into a multi-purpose construction vessel with fixed accommodation for 400 people. She will become the first mono-hull flotel to work in the North Sea.

"Acquiring our own vessel was the logical next step for C&M," says group operations director, David Kellas. "We have been successfully providing temporary living quarters solutions to the major operators for some time now. On Shell's Bonga project and BP's Thunder Horse project we arranged the bare boat charter of a vessel and then converted this into a flotel by adding purpose-built accommodation modules capable of accommodating up to 400 people.

"When fully-refurbished the Ice Maiden will be able to transport and accommodate a workforce of up to 400. Her ice-breaking capabilities and temperature controlled workshops mean that she will be capable of operating in some of the harshest climates, including the Arctic Circle, where it is reported that over 30% of the world's remaining hydrocarbons are located."

In a report commissioned by C&M Marine Services, Seabrokers stated that there is growing exploration and production activity within Arctic waters, confirmed by the development of such fields as Shtokman, Obskaya, Tazovsskaya Bay and Sakhalin Island. At present there are no vessels with the capability to operate for more than four or five months per year in these waters. The Ice Maiden with a 45cm thick hull has the ability to cut through ice over one meter thick, whilst cruising at 1.5 knots.

Kellas adds: "Given these remarkable capabilities, the Ice Maiden will significantly increase the window of opportunity for companies operating within Arctic regions."

The Ice Maiden, formerly MV Paardeberg, was built for the Russian Navy in 1991. She is 167 meters long with a 23 meter beam and has four 25 tonne capacity cranes and heli-deck with a heated hanger and refueling capabilities. C&M Marines Services expect to complete the conversion in the next five months so that the vessel will be on station in the North Sea towards the end of May 2007.

Kellas adds: "Not only will the Ice Maiden be a unique multi-purpose support vessel with ice-breaking capabilities, she will also be a showcase for the whole range of services C&M provides including highly sophisticated communications, fibre optics, digital CCTV, passenger on board control systems, special cabling and all HVAC and PA equipment."

C&M Marine Services hopes to announce its first long-term charter for the Ice Maiden with a major operator early in the New Year.

The company, which is aiming to become one of Scotland's largest marine engineering companies and a global market leader, was subject to a management buy-out last month. Backers Lime Rock Partners committed $90 million to fund the MBO and provide capital for future investment.

The organization now consists of three individual operating companies under the C&M Group Holdings Ltd. These are C&M Marine Services Ltd which provides a wide range of marine services, including specialist subsea and installation support services, C&M Engineering Services Ltd, which undertakes major electrical contracts, communication cabling and the supply and installation of kitchen and laundry equipment and C&M Marine Services (USA) Inc, the Houston-based operation that manufactures offshore accommodation modules and provides a variety of marine services.