September 8 - GPO Heavylift's new vessel GPO Grace, which entered service earlier this summer, has successfully completed its maiden voyage from Thailand to Norway.

The 65,000 dwt newbuilding, which was built at China Shipbuiding Corp's (CSBC) Kaohsiung shipyard in Taiwan, transported the Main Support Frame (MSF) for a drilling platform destined for Statoil's Johan Sverdrup oil field on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Loading operations were undertaken at Aibel's yard in Thailand where the module was built for Statoil.

Some 496 axle lines of self-propelled modular transporters (SPMT) were used to load the module, weighing 10,800 tonnes and the size of a football field, in a project that took approximately four hours. The module is believed to be both the largest ever built on Thai soil and the largest individual assignment Aibel's yard in Laem Chabang has ever delivered.

When GPO Grace arrived at Haugesund, Norway, the module was lifted off by Heerema Marine Contractors' (HMC) crane vessel Thialf onto a barge where it will be integrated with two other modules to form the drilling platform.

Anne Kindlihagen, Aibel's marine operation manager in the Johan Sverdrup drilling platform project said: "Everything was well-prepared and the crews in Thailand and on board the GPO Grace deserve a lot of credit for making ready and tidy the module for the lifting operation. This meant that we were able to complete the operation in shorter time than scheduled."

GPO Grace is one of four semi-submersible vessels being constructed for GPO Heavylift in Taiwan and suitable for dry transportation of offshore drilling rigs, offshore modules and other heavy cargo.

The other three will be called GPO Amethyst, GPO Sapphire and GPO Emerald, and when in service GPO Heavylift says that they will be the only four purpose-built semi-submersible vessels of the same design in the world.

Each ship has full dynamic positioning two (DP2) capability. Their main deck can be submerged to 15 m and has been strengthened to carry loads of 30 tonnes per sq m.