Looking out from the quayside at Peterhead, Scotland, the importance of the offshore oil and gas industry to this region's economy is evident, with numerous support ships waiting to ferry their next load of essential supplies to the many rigs in the North Sea.
Today, there's something a bit different about one ship coming into view over the horizon - its size. The Far Samson, red and white and emblazoned with the familiar F of the Farstad Shipping company - is the world's most powerful offshore vessel. Designed and equipped by Rolls-Royce, the UT-Design vessel tackles the underwater world of seabed trenching - laying cables and pipelines. A hybrid propulsion system, combining diesel-electric and diesel-mechanical transmission, propellers and thrusters, gives it the edge over other vessels.
The Far Samson is 121.5 metres long, has a 26 metre beam and 15,620 gross tonnes - by far the largest of the Farstad fleet and has a record breaking continuous bollard pull of 423 tonnes using all available propellers and 377 tonnes using the main propulsion system only. Continuous bollard pull is a measurement of how much direct pull a vessel can exert and is measured by running a long wire from the vessel to a strong fixed point ashore. The ship then applies full power to its propellers and the wire tension is measured over a ten minute period.
The vessel's 600 tonne winch enables it to trench safely at a depth of 1000 metres in three metre seas and the hydraulic plough, which weighs 200 tonnes, can handle pipelines of up to 1.4 metres in diameter and is able to cut a trench of 2.5 metres in depth.
As future exploration in search of energy resources begin to target the world's more challenging environments, vessels with the capabilities of Far Samson are sure to be in demand. The manoeuvrability, versatility and of course power, puts Far Samson in a class of its own.
The Far Samson
Rolls-Royce Bergen B-type engines provide the power for Far Samson.
The 600 tonne Rauma Brattvaag main winch