Ross Candies: a new force in the Gulf

No one has built more Jones Act-compliant inspection, maintenance and repair vessels than Otto Candies LLC. Since 2007, the offshore support company, which is based in Des Allemands, La., has put three IMRs in service, and it has three more under construction.

American Ship Review Ship of the Year: Ross Candies. (Brian Gauvin Photos)

“Typically our vessels go on long-term contract while under construction or shortly after delivery,†said Brett Candies, the company’s traffic and sales manager. “Our original IMR, Chloe Candies, has been on contract since it was delivered in 2007, and our second vessel, Grant Candies, was contracted as a floating hotel for a Shell platform project before we had an opportunity to install any of the deep-sea equipment.â€

The industry as a whole has built several IMRs in the past two years, but the others have been built by foreign shipyards.

Key to the new IMR’s versatility are its two Subsea 7 ROVs, one of which is shown above. The ROVs are manipulated from control rooms on the C deck. They can install drilling equipment in water that is far too deep for divers.

“The Jones Act implications of our vessels being U.S. flagged are not lost on us,†Candies said. “We think the market for such vessels is in line with our building plans.â€

Capt. Bobby Horn in the pilothouse.

The company’s third IMR, Ross Candies, was delivered this spring. As with Grant Candies, the hull, superstructure and all machinery were built and installed by Dakota Creek Industries, of Anacortes, Wash. — Candies Shipbuilding, the company’s own yard in Houma, La., is very small and lacks the space to store a large number of modules awaiting assembly.

The view from the top of the heave tower directly down into the 25-foot-by-23-foot moon pool.

Grant Candies left Dakota Creek about a year ago for Houma for topside installation, but before that happened the vessel went into service on the Shell project, where workers were installing a production platform. Ross Candies took a slightly different route. Much of the deep-sea equipment, except for the main deck-mounted 100-ton knuckle-boom crane, was installed before the vessel left Anacortes.

After that, Ross first went to Galveston, Texas, to install the crane and other equipment and then to Bollinger Shipyards in Port Fourchon, La., where two Triton ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) were installed, along with the control rooms that guide them.

Mark Kerrison, offshore manager for Subsea 7, makes a system check on an ROV.

“We’ll probably operate the Ross out of Fourchon,†Candies said. The vessel’s size, width and depth restrictions at the company’s Houma shipyard make it unlikely Ross will go there, he explained.

Ross Candies is a 309-foot vessel with a 66-foot molded beam, a hull depth of 28 feet and a 23-foot draft. It has five decks in the superstructure and three decks below the main deck. The main deck has 10,760 square feet of space to carry systems to be installed by the vessel, and cargo removed from the seabed to be transported to shore.

The engine room. The vessel has diesel-electric propulsion with four Caterpillar 3516C engines.

“It is a total diesel-electric boat with four Caterpillar 3516C diesel engines driving generators for a total output of 9,000 kW,†Candies remarked. Trial speed was 13 knots.

The vessel holds 435,883 gallons of fuel, 94,058 gallons of fresh water and almost a million gallons of water ballast.

In all, Ross has berths for 68 people plus 12 crewmembers. The vessel’s captain is Bobby Horn, a veteran of 30-plus years with Candies and an example of Candies’ policy of moving employees up in responsibility.

Above, a general view of the pilothouse.

A pair of Schottel 2,500-kW Combi Drives, which are basically high-power z-drives, supply propulsion. In the bow are three 910-kW tunnel thrusters powered by large electric motors.

“Three bow thrusters are an important component in our DP-2 system,†Candies said. “A DP-2 system is absolutely essential on a vessel such as this so it can hold position to precisely lower and retrieve payloads through its moon pool to the sea bottom that may be 10,000 feet deep.â€

A noticeable feature of Ross Candies is its 100-ton mast, an integral part of the vessel’s payload delivery and retrieval system. Located on the main deck amidships on the port side, the mast takes the wire rope from the 100-ton deep-sea winch and returns it to the main deck, centered over the moon pool opening. The mast is compensated against both active and passive heaving to reduce any swinging movement of the wire rope as it enters the moon pool.

The fuel pump controls and one of the two Schottel 2,500-kW Combi Drives.

As an example of how it works, if the vessel’s mission is to lower and install a “tree†(a sort of a manifold) at a wellhead, the knuckle-boom crane can pick up the tree from land and place it on the main deck or have the tree placed there by a shoreside crane.

Once the tree is in place, the crane lifts it over the 25-foot by 23-foot moon pool, and a 100-ton skidding system moves over the moon pool while the load is transferred from the crane to the deep-sea winch.

The winch slightly raises the load and the skidding system retracts from the moon pool, at which point the deep-sea winch can lower the tree through the moon pool and into the water.

One or both of the vessel’s ROVs are launched, and they are positioned to follow the tree to the sea bed while the ROV pilots direct and follow the action from a control room (one for each ROV) on the C deck. The ROVs precisely position the tree over the wellhead, and their manipulator arms do all of the installation if the work is being conducted below the limit of diver endurance.

The manipulator arms are outfitted with a variety of tools to do anything a diver could do, and do it faster — no meal breaks. The manipulator arms are also stronger than a human arm or hand, permitting an ROV to accomplish tasks divers cannot do at any depth, such as grasping and turning valves, pipes and other connections into the tree, digging trenches for pipelines, threading pipe and installing mattresses (barriers placed at the point where pipelines may cross). And everything is captured on video.

The vessel can also retrieve items on the seabed and return them to the main deck or offload them onto another ship or barge following the installation procedure in reverse. Once again, the ROVs guide the winch and hook up the loads the winch will carry to the surface of the water for offloading.

IMR vessels such as Ross Candies fulfill no supply function — they do not carry transferable liquid mud, dry bulk or fuel. They are, however, equipped with a large galley, lounge and accommodations. Located through the superstructure are creature comforts such as a cinema, gym and hospital.

Ross Candies carries a pair of Triton 150-hp ROVs, one port and one starboard just ahead of amidships. Bollinger built a special area to launch and recover the ROVs. The ROVs are installed in a launch-and-recovery system, or LARS, and both the ROVs and the LARS are lifted and mounted on an A-frame device for launch.

Once the unit is below the surface, the ROV powers up and its twin thrusters free it from the LARS device. A cable provides the ROV with electricity to operate the thrusters, lights, manipulator arms and other systems, and the cable package also transfers the video images to the ship.

ROVs have a wide variety of uses. They do subsea cable burial and maintenance, salvage and recovery, pipeline construction, completion and survey, platform inspection maintenance and repair, suction pile installation and a range of drill support activities.

The dynamic positioning system is by Kongsberg. The electrical package, including the switchboard, power management and alarm system, is by Siemens, and Huisman supplied the heave compensation system. All navigation and communications equipment is by Radio Holland.

The bridge deck is very large. Besides the helm, forward, it includes a conference room, survey area, meeting area, ship’s office and three one-person staterooms with offices for clients.

Forward, just above the pilothouse, is the heliport, which will accommodate a Bell 212, Sikorsky, Super Puma and similar craft.

As noted earlier, three more IMRs are being built by or for Candies. In its shipyard is the 240-foot Kelly Ann Candies, a sister ship to Chloe. At Dakota Creek, Cade Candies was recently christened and will be much like Ross Candies.

Ross Candies went into service in the middle of the year, only a month after the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

“It is hard to tell what impact the oil spill and deepwater drilling construction moratorium will have on our fleet utilization,†Candies said. “We are continuing with our building plans knowing that new and existing wells, both deepwater and shallow water, need the services these vessels can provide.â€

By Professional Mariner Staff