An initial five-year charter led to the design and construction of Total Resource in 1996. The success of that process was highlighted by the fast utility vessel recently completing its twentieth consecutive year working in the same offshore service role.
Total Marine Services commissioned the all-aluminium monohull to fulfil its five-year charter contract with West Australian Petroleum (WAPET), a pioneering oil and gas company that later became Chevron Australia. Total Marine’s decision to appoint International Maritime Consultants (IMC) to design a vessel that would optimally meet WAPET’s specifications has been clearly justified by its successful career.
Those operating requirements were by no means straightforward. Personnel and cargo transport between the port of Onslow and Thevenard Island and nearby offshore platforms and service areas was the main requirement, however a range of other capabilities were also required on either a scheduled, or unscheduled, basis. These included survey work as well as rescue and oil spill response, capabilities that enabled it to take on a standby vessel role.
As specialist marine media reported when Total Resource was delivered: “The design by Fremantle’s International Maritime Consultants takes all these role into account and has resulted in a truly versatile and functional vessel.”
The versatility and functionality of Total Resource, which was renamed Mermaid Resource when it was acquired by MMA Offshore, has withstood the test of time.
Asked what made the vessel successful over such a long period, Ben Carrigg, Dampier Vessel Operations Manager for MMA Offshore, was unambiguous: “The fact that is was designed for purpose.
“Importantly, the vessel has good seagoing capabilities and good manoeuvring capabilities to enable it to hold station. It has also proven comfortable for the client personnel we have transported as well as the for ours crew to live on,” he added
Capable of 20 knots but typically operating at between 14 to 17 knots, the 27 metre long aluminium monohull was designed to transport up to 20 personnel, up to 10 tonnes of deck cargo, 8,000 litres of fuel and 8,200 litres of fresh water. These liquid cargoes can be transferred at up to 20m3 per hour. Methanol and biocide chemicals have been staple cargoes.
The aft deck provides 60m2 for cargo, with tie-down points provided on the aluminium deck to enable 20 foot containers as well as dispersant chemical containers to be carried. It also features a survey equipment compartment and three twin-berth cabins.
History has proven that Mermaid Resource is truly robust both in its aluminium structure and systems.
“The vessel has certainly withstood the test of operating continuously in harsh environments, including routinely pushing up against platforms, for many, many years,” Carrigg said.
“Despite the stress it has been placed under, Mermaid Resource has remained sound throughout. Of course we have had normal wear and tear, but certainly no structural issues.”
Longevity on the systems front is exemplified its twin Wärtsilä UD23 propulsion diesels, which are the original engines. In fact Carrigg reports they are still going strong after some 36,000 running hours. This reflects the pedigree of the original specification, as well as the consideration of maintenance inherent in the vessel’s design.
As early reviews noted, the engine space allocated by IMC is vast, making the task of arranging the machinery spaces for ease of use and access by engineers “almost laughably simple”.
Ben Carrigg said he hadn’t noted any abnormal maintenance requirements with the aluminium offshore support vessel.
“Throughout the term of MMA Offshore’s ownership we have implemented a standard planned maintenance approach, just as we do with our fleet of steel OSVs,” he explained. “It has kept the vessel in good condition; in fact she has just recently undergone complete hull and shaft inspections and passed with confidence.”
Commenting on the 20 year milestone, IMC’s Managing Director and naval architect Justin McPherson said Mermaid Resource was a valuable case study.
“This operation shows that well designed and well maintained vessels can work with great success in demanding conditions over prolonged periods, regardless of whether they are built from aluminium or steel,” he said.
“In fact, aside from the name change and the addition of some access stairs, Mermaid Resource presents essentially unmodified from when it was delivered in 1996: a testament to the benefits of applying professional, custom design skills and experience to a multi-functional vessel.
“Significant credit also goes to the seagoing and shore-based personnel associated with the vessel over the years, both from MMA Offshore and Total Marine Services, as well as the various maintenance providers that have helped keep the multi-role vessel in great condition over the years,” McPherson added.
Mermaid Resource has, in fact, outlived the Thevenard Island operation it was commissioned for, and is now ready for a second career. Confirming that it is being offered for sale, Ben Carrigg said: “Mermaid Resource is a proven, reliable vessel that can take on many different roles in the future. She has plenty of life left in her, that’s for sure.”