SBM Installer - Copyright SBM Offshore photo credit Rene Bosselaar_Original_10630

SBM’s ‘Multi-tool’ Visits Rotterdam

(With extra pictures & video) The Port of Rotterdam welcomed a rare guest on Sunday the 10th of February, the SBM Installer, a diving support & construction vessel of Dutch offshore company SBM Offshore. 

It was the first time the vessel, sailing under the flag of the Bahamas visited Rotterdam. The ship moored at the quay of the Wilton harbour in the port of Schiedam, birthplace of SBM Offshore. The company is an offspring from a merger in 1965 of several Dutch shipyards that continued under the name of IHC Holland. SBM Offshore was formed in 1969 as a special branch.

The main office of the company is in Amsterdam and in addition to the “home” office in Schiedam, SBM Offshore has regional centres in Monaco, Kuala Lumpur and Houston. Nowadays, the group of companies employs approximately 4800 people worldwide, equalling approximately 4300 FTE, spread over eight locations, nine operational shore bases and the offshore fleet of vessels.

FPSO Specialist

SBM originally stands for Single Buoy Moorings, but is now focused on the design, exploitation and selling or leasing of big installations and ships for the oil and gas industry. It specialises in so-called FPSOs, Floating Production and Storing Offloading Systems. FPSOs are mostly created from second-hand bulkers and big crude carriers that are refitted as floating production platforms for cleaning up the oil and gas that is pumped up from under the seabed. 

SBM Installer

The SBM Installer is used to install and maintain all the submerged infrastructure of wells, pipes, risers, cables and the anchorage of an FPSO. In addition to the SBM Installer, the company has also chartered the Normand Installer.

Delivered in 2013 by Keppel Singmarine shipyard in Singapore, the SBM Installer has up until now mainly been deployed on oil fields around Africa, in Asian waters, Brazil and in the Mediterranean. In 2017, the SBM Installer visited Monaco, home of the nowadays largest regional centre of the company. 

The SBM Installer was designed by Marin Teknikk, Norway, and has a 12-man diving system and two ROV systems. The vessel is 111 m long and 25 m wide and can accommodate 100 people. What differentiates the SBM Installer from the competition is its exclusive combination of a fully integrated saturation diving system with strong construction and chain handling capabilities in a Dynamic Positioning (DP) class III vessel – with the higher class of redundancy – giving it unrivalled versatility and efficiency within a safe working environment. 

Offshore Construction and Installation Work

The 111-m vessel is equipped to carry out offshore construction and installation work in water depth of up to 1700 m with a 275 t SWL (Safe Working Load) knuckle boom crane and an active heave compensated 150 t SWL winch. To safely handle and store long lengths of mooring legs, it is also equipped with a 200 t SWL double-drum winch and four large storage areas called chain lockers of 135m3 each. 

The patented double-deck concept, already tested and proven on the Normand Installer, provides a large storage and construction area on the upper deck while keeping the conventional main deck unobstructed to run chains or wires over the stern under tension. 

Versatile Vessel

Being an Anchor Handling Vessel (AHV), a Diving Support Vessel (DSV), a construction vessel, and having a large deck (thanks to the flat upper deck to easily store, mobilise, and demobilise all kind of equipment) gives the vessel great versatility. The combination of all these features means it can perform complex and diversified tasks eliminating the need to mobilise other vessels. The main crane can be used to place equipment overboard, to install and then to transfer the load to one of the deepwater winches. The heave compensated winch is utilised if slow motion is required during the landing phase; or the double drum winch is used if the landing speed is not that critical for the operation in hand. 

Diving Systems 

Two types of diving systems are possible: 

  • a conventional air diving system, operated over the starboard side of the vessel;
  • a saturation diving system which allows work up to 300 m water depth.

The SBM Installer system has a 12-man capacity, even if one of the three chambers is undergoing maintenance. Each chamber can be pressurised independently allowing several teams to work at different water depths. 

In case of an emergency, a specific hyperbaric lifeboat will safely evacuate the divers, while maintaining the pressurised environment. 


Operations will be supported by two heavy work-class Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). Both ROVs can carry out observation and intervention works to a water depth of 3000 m. 

This allows preparation for future operations while deploying the subsea equipment. However, this benefit can mostly be quantified in terms of safety, with an excellent safety record clocked up on the Normand Installer as proof. Of note is the firing line located on the lower deck where no personnel are allowed during subsea deployment operations. 

Ship Propulsion

The enigine power of the SBM Installer consists of six main engines, 2 x 2810 ekW + 4 x 1870 ekW. For propulsion the ship has three bow thrusters of 2 x 1500 kW tunnel thrusters and a 1 x 1200 kW tunnel thruster. The stern propulsion consists of 2 x 3000 kW propellers + rudders and 2 x 1200 kW tunnel thrusters.   

Experience the Vessel

As in 2017 when the vessel visited Monaco, the SBM Installer visited the port of Rotterdam to offer employees of the different SBM companies, in this case, the people that work at the offices in Schiedam and Amsterdam in particular, to go onboard the vessel and see what the SBM-people on board the ship are actually doing. Engineers from the offices in Monaco offered guides tours for their SBM-colleagues. On Monday the 11th of February, a guided tour was offered to representatives of maritime media in the Netherlands including SWZ|Maritime.

Extra pictures of the SBM Installer can be found in the album below. The first pictures are taken in Rotterdam (by Rene Bosselaar). The last two were taken in Monaco by Ivan Blanco Vilar. Please click the pop-out link to view the pictures in their proper dimensions.

The video below was taken during the vessel’s visit to Monaco in 2017 (commentary in French).

Picture top: SBM Installer in Rotterdam (copyright SBM Offshore/Rene Bosselaar).

Author: Mariska

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