Facts on Maersk Connector:
- 138 m long and 27 m wide
- A 7,000 tonne capacity cable carousel is located in the middle of the ship
- It has a 100 tonne subsea crane
- It can accommodate 90 people
Never once having grounded a vessel, Captain Peter Grøn was going against his nature and 20 years of experience when he steered Maersk Connector closer to shore, deliberately getting stuck with the low tide.
“We had planned it for a long time and gotten used to the idea, but actually doing it was very unusual,” Peter Grøn explains after having successfully completed the first so-called ‘engineered grounding’ in Maersk Supply Service’s history in late May.
In and out
The unusual situation called for an unusual vessel. Maersk Connector is the first large power cable layer that can sail right up to the shore and go aground fully loaded with cable, allowing the crew to lay cable from offshore wind turbines to shore in single length, before easing safely back to sea with the high tide. This process is cost-efficient and a single length cable creates a better flow of power than does a cable with a larger number of connecting joints.
Maersk Connector’s first expedition went to Morecombe Bay in the Northwest of England and everything went according to the meticulously prepared minute-by-minute plan. The vessel and its 75 man strong crew completed the job, connecting the extension of the Walney offshore wind farm to shore, and grounding no less than five times over the course of three days in the process.
“If we didn’t get it right, we would have had to wait a full month for the next high tide,” says Peter Grøn.
No trial run
“This operation raised the industry standard for cable laying,” says Jacob Westh Olsen, Operations Supervisor at Maersk Supply Service.
Olsen was the focal point of the month-long planning, which lead to the grounding and involved the client, third party surveyors along with technical and fleet teams at Maersk Supply Service.