World’s biggest construction vessel goes through Bosphorus

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The world’s largest pipe-laying vessel, the Pioneering Spirit, passed through Istanbul’s Bosphorus on the morning of May 2.

The Black Sea entrance of the Bosphorus was closed to naval traffic due to the passing of the 477-meter-long vessel.

On April 30, Pioneering Spirit captain Loek Fernengel said Allseas, the company that owns the Pioneering Spirit, has the world’s most technologically advanced pipe-laying vessel, which is not only designed for pipe-laying but also for the installation and decommissioning of oil and gas platforms.

“The vessel’s construction started in 2012, so we can say it’s a newly-built vessel,” Fernengel added.

The TurkStream construction project has so far been very successful, said the captain.

“Even in the event of large waves, the vessel remains stable and we are able to continue working. There was a huge storm about a month ago in which waves reached 7 to 8 meters high. The vessel suffered some damage but it did not stop our production. Every eight minutes, we lay one pipe in the sea,” Fernengel said.

The vessel has a maximum speed of 14 knots and can accommodate 571 people with an installed power capacity of 95,000 kilowatts.

“This is a unique vessel with the size of six Boeing 747s and is able to lift 2.5 Eiffel Towers at once,” Fernengel said.

“The vessel’s construction started in 2012, so we can say that it’s a newly-built vessel,” he added.

The vessel is among a fleet of other Allseas enormous vessels, including the Solitaire, Audacia and Lorelay.

Vessel similar to five-star hotel

A group of journalists were given a first-hand experience of life onboard the Pioneering Spirit where they were able to meet the crew in person.

The vessel, with 13 floors and 288 cabins, can cater for over 500 employees at any given time.

However, it is not all work and no play, as the crew from over 40 countries has recreational areas with Playstations, television screens and facilities for various activities, such as ping-pong and foosball.

“We have 130 technical crew members including mechanical engineers and electricians, 40-45 personnel for catering, 300 employees on the production line and 50 marine crew,” Fernengel explained.

The catering crew serves between 1,500 and 2,000 meals daily on board, while 250 kilograms of rice and 11,000 eggs are consumed per week.

The captain shared that the majority of the fruit and vegetables, milk and canned goods are bought from Turkey.

“It’s like a five-star hotel. It can accommodate up to 571 people. There are laundry facilities and room cleaning services for the staff. The vessel has a capacity of 21 million liters of diesel but our daily consumption is 100,000 liters. With full speed, it is 400,000 liters per day,” he said.

First gas to be pumped in 2019

TurkStream’s spokesman Sander van Rootselaar also informed the visiting group of journalists that to date, 224 km of the second line has been completed.

“For the offshore part, we have all the necessary permits. The onshore lines are beyond our remit. Those will be the responsibility of Turkey’s BOTAŞ and Gazprom. They are in talks for a joint venture regarding the second onshore pipeline,” he said, adding that the first gas from the project will be pumped in December 2019.

“The project is a clear benefit for Turkey as it’s a direct line to the country. The negotiations for gas price are ongoing. We have to wait to see how they develop,” he said.

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