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Following its major upgrade, McDermott’s Amazon will be sailing the waters as one of the most technologically sophisticated offshore construction vessels.

Its upgraded specs enable highly automated operations, the production of hex joints from single or double joints using an onboard multi-joint facility and a pipe hold capacity of 10,000 metric tons.

“The new Amazon, once complete, will redefine our industry’s understanding of what is possible within ultradeepwater construction,” said Mladen Luketa, captain of McDermott’s Amazon vessel. 

With 10,000 metric tons of pipe in its hold, the vessel will be capable of continuing pipelay operations long after the pipe-supply vessel transfers pipe. Its dynamic hex-joint J-lay system, which is 50% longer than a conventional quad-lay, will result in a 30% reduction in the number of critical path tower welds.

“The Amazon’s upgraded design creates new opportunities in the ultradeepwater arena that have never been attainable before,” said Michel Middel, McDermott’s executive project director of the Amazon Conversion. “It will also enable our clients to undertake ultradeepwater field development in remote locations with minimal supporting infrastructure.”

The Amazon's dynamic top tension J-lay system has a capacity of 1,500 metric tons and allows large diameter pipelines to be deployed in water depths up to 3,500 m—a major advantage in developing ultradeepwater reserves, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Amazon’s high level of automation allows a significant reduction in the crew numbers required to safely perform pipelay operations, which is even more valuable than originally envisioned, especially as the world continues to navigate the challenges of operating safely during a global pandemic.

Construction and testing

The Amazon conversion recently entered its commissioning phase.

“Following a progressive program of harbor acceptance testing, the Amazon will be complete by the end of this year,” said Tony Brown, McDermott’s vice president of global marine assets and operations. “The completion of construction in Rotterdam will be followed by an intense two-week program of offshore testing to complete the acceptance and redelivery of the vessel."

Offshore testing is scheduled to start during the first quarter of next year to ensure the vessel is fully ready to execute the scope for its first project.

Earlier this year, McDermott achieved a major milestone in the construction phase of this project with the installation of its loader arm (LDA), the final major component to be installed during the conversion. 

“This latest achievement was the culmination of months of hard work from the conversion team,” Brown said. “In total, the LDA weighs an incredible 504 tons. It is 85 meters in length, 8.5 meters wide and 8.6 meters high.” 

It was fabricated in separate sections in a closed environment fabrication facility in Poland before being shipped to IHC’s Port of Blyth facility for final tie-in, followed by an extensive period of outfitting, acceptance testing and partial commissioning. Once ready, it was transported to Rotterdam by barge where it was prepared for final installation.

The LDA is used to transport hex (six joints), pent (five joints) or quads (four joints) from a horizontal position on the mezzanine deck to a vertical (or near vertical) position at the tower. Once docked, the LDA, outfitted with six longitudinal clamps, swings the pipe string into position in the tower ready for welding and coating. The entire assembly weighed in excess of 600 tons, and its full length was approximately 95 m.

“The LDA is a key component of the overall design of the Amazon’s pipelay system and is crucial to having a hex joint, ultradeepwater pipelay vessel,” said Stewart House, a McDermott engineering and mission equipment manager.

For more information, visit McDermott at booth 1565.