San Hamana is not the first fish farm feed barge designed and built by Tasmania’s innovative and effective Crisp Bros. and Haywards nor, given the way the Atlantic salmon farming industry is developing, will it be the last.
This barge is a simple solution to a number of requirements. Built on time and on budget, the barge automatically distributes its 200-tonne feed load to the owner’s salmon pens as required.
It has many useful additional features though. It has comfortable overnight crew accommodation, galley, mess, change room, garage and workshop, as well as its all-important computerised control room that is equipped with an underwater camera system to facilitate a close watch on the farm’s valuable salmon stocks.
Everything, it seems, has been thought of and incorporated in a remarkably compact, yet seaworthy, package. The barge is a wonderful example of naval architecture, shipbuilding and industrial design.
“Technically, this was a standard feed barge project for us,” Crisp Bros. and Haywards Project Manager Nigel Winter told Baird Maritime. “The only system we had not previously implemented on a vessel of this type was a client requested sprinkler system in the crew sleeping accommodation. Since there was no NSCV rule requirement for this system, both the builder and the buyer agreed to a ‘non-compliant’ solution (i.e. no backup pump or power source).”
Winter explained that the sprinkler system was connected to the deck wash pump system via a dry valve. The night crew will be notified via fault alarm should there be any loss of water pressure in the deck wash system main.
San Hamana was designed, built, and delivered within a span of nine months, a period that also included the onset of Covid-19 in Australia. Fortunately for Crisp Bros. and Haywards, its operations in Tasmania were largely unaffected by the pandemic.
“Other than having to accommodate social distancing, which required a few schedule changes to redistribute labour onto additional shifts, plus a few issues with late equipment and material delivery, our production works were able to proceed as normal,” remarked Winter.
The company made the most of the opportunity, completing and delivering two other newbuilds before the year was over. These included Hulk, a 600-tonne feed barge, and Atreus, an 18-metre steel catamaran workboat. Besides these, numerous vessel repair and maintenance projects were successfully completed as well in 2020.
The steady pace of business amidst the pandemic has led to the builder to have an optimistic prediction of what the future will bring.
“The demand for new construction works is looking positive,” Winter told Baird Maritime, “while repair and maintenance work continues to deliver a steady flow of work into our covered facilities. In addition to ongoing discussions and negotiations around existing project proposals, we have been tendering on some exciting new projects and designs for potential new clients.
“Overall, we have a strong positive and optimistic outlook for future endeavours.”
Limitations within Crisp Bros’ local market became evident over the past year, compelling clients to seek opportunities in other potentially lucrative areas. Specifically, the company has observed the plateauing of the aquaculture industry in local sheltered waters, and this has influenced operators to head into deeper, more exposed waters where fish farm sites may also be built. This will then lead to greater demand for more seaworthy barges and similarly robust support and service vessels.
The pandemic also highlighted an important development from the builder’s point of view.
“The Covid-19 situation demonstrated a few shortcomings of the global economy,” said Winter. “While we have experienced minor delays with equipment and material delivery, we have heard reports of vessel constructions contracted overseas being completely shut down. There now appears to be a growing realisation that supporting local Australian manufacturing industry has specific advantages for operators.”
Winter added that, by its very nature, the Australian workboat industry is reactive to the requirements of the industries serviced such as aquaculture, wind farming, telecommunications. Thus, the industry is capable of addressing the expected growing interest among local operators.
“While it is likely that there will be a demand for new task specific workboat designs, there will always be a demand for general purpose workboats. This segment of the industry is quite mature, and so development is likely to be via evolution.”
Winter explained that this evolution will be in the form of continual improvements in areas such as operational efficiency and safety, efficiency and safety in construction, fuel efficiency, electrical efficiency, and system monitoring equipment.
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