The human factor in smooth sailing

The supply vessel Normand Solitaire is loading equipment and supplies for its next trip out into the North Sea. Decisions are made both during planning and execution of the voyage which affect the vessel’s overall emissions of greenhouse gases. The crew are focused on reducing emissions wherever they can. 

Normand Solitaire is one of the North Sea’s workhorses. An 11-year-old lady measuring just over 90 metres from bow to stern, and with room for about 1/4 acre of cargo on deck. In 2021, a battery was installed on the boat for hybrid operations, as well as equipment to connect to electricity when she’s at quay. Both contribute to significantly lower emissions. But equally important is the human factor provided by logistics personnel and the crew. The captain on board, Håvard Nordstrand, has been part of the transition from sailing quickly from A to B, to sailing smart, in a way that makes good sense for the environment. 

On this trip, Normand Solitaire will be delivering equipment and supplies to three installations; the production platforms Ivar Aasen and Edvard Grieg, and the drilling platform Scarabeo 8. It will then turn around to take return cargo back ashore. The most environmentally friendly trip is the one you avoid taking. This is why there’s a benefit in being able to coordinate logistics for multiple installations through better utilisation of cargo capacity and fewer nautical miles for the boat. 

On the way out into the North Sea, captain Håvard Nordstrand explains their philosophy on saving fuel along the way: 

Once we finished loading at the supply base, we left the quay immediately. This gives us plenty of time to make it out to the field, so we can travel at a lower speed.

Håvard Nordstrand
Captain, Normand Solitaire

Normand Solitaire has three machines that produce electricity for the thrusters (propellers) that drive the boat. On this trip, two of them will be in use through the night. Once the morning breaks, they’re in such good shape for their arrival, and the weather has calmed down a bit, so they can run on only one engine. If they need extra power, the hybrid battery will kick in. 

The crew on the bridge determine how much power needs to be generated. There’s an entirely different focus on this now, compared with just a few years ago. The goal is to reduce emissions, but this simultaneously reduces fuel expenses, and leads to less wear and tear on engines. So this benefits both the environment, the operator company and the shipping company.

Håvard Nordstrand
Captain, Normand Solitaire

The boat uses dynamic positioning during offloading and loading at the installations. Even if the vessel needs to stay stationary, this still requires a relatively large amount of power in reserve to counteract wind and currents. The Scarabeo 8 drilling rig is a floating installation that is moored with anchor lines. And the boat’s bow is located just a few metres above one of the anchor lines. At this point, first officer Ana Maria Lind chooses to keep two engines running. 

But when we were laying alongside Edvard Grieg earlier today, there were no anchor lines we had to account for, and the weather was a bit calmer. Then we chose to use just one engine. This saves us 80 litres of fuel every hour.

Ana Maria Lind
First officer, Normand Solitaire