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Special heavy lifter “Svanen” grows by 25 meters

25 m growth in just one night: shipping company Van Oord has carried out the heavy-lift upgrade for the special ship “Svanen” in the Netherlands, which was announced at the end of 2023.

As part of a comprehensive modernisation, a large A-shaped gantry extension weighing 1,200 tons was installed on board the Van Oord vessel “Svanen”.[ds_preview] This measure has increased the overall height of the “Svanen” to 125 m, making it one of the largest heavy-lift vessels in the world, the shipping company has now announced.

The extension section was built by Holland Shipyard. One of the largest cranes in the world was used for the installation at Mammoet Schiedam. In addition to the gantry extension, the upgrade reportedly includes a modernisation of the lifting hooks to increase the ship’s lifting capacity from 3,000 tons to 4,500 tons, an improvement of the grab to handle larger loads and a modification of the ship’s structure to adapt it to the latest size. The modernised “Svanen” is scheduled to be ready for operation in the third quarter of 2024.

Van Oord announced the upgrade in December. Due to the global demand for renewable energies, wind farm technology is making rapid progress and the turbines are getting bigger and bigger, he explained. This comprehensive upgrade is intended to prepare the “Svanen” for the next generation of monopile foundations for offshore wind projects.

Marco Hoogendoorn, Commercial Director at Holland Shipyards, said: “We are very proud to have built one of the largest steel structures in our history for the expansion of Van Oord’s ‘Svanen’, including the provision of new accommodation units.” This project presented the shipyard with major logistical challenges.

Changeable history for “Svanen”

The “Svanen” already has a varied history. It was originally designed for the construction of bridges. In 2005, the energy transition boosted the Dutch offshore wind market and the “Svanen” was converted for the installation of monopiles and transition pieces. Since then, the ship has installed over 700 monopiles and 223 transition pieces, the dimensions and weight of which are increasing every year. In view of the growth in size, “Svanen” was already modernized in 2017.

Maarten Loman, project manager for the conversion of the “Svanen” at Van Oord, emphasised: “Originally used for bridge construction, the ship has contributed to the construction of offshore wind turbines since the beginning of the energy transition. Following an extensive modernisation in 2017, it will now be further improved to install many more foundations for offshore wind farms in the coming years.”

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Copyright: Van Oord

Caption: "Svanen" (© Van Oord)