October 31 - Hovertrans Solutions Pte Ltd (Hovertrans Solutions) has completed the construction of a modular heavy lift hovercraft, the first of its kind to be built in Singapore.

The hovercraft, commonly referred to as a hoverbarge, is now ready for charter, says Hovertrans, adding that it is ideal for industries such as oil and gas, heavy logistics industries, as well as for civil engineering work in otherwise inaccessible or environmentally-sensitive terrain.

Built in ST Marine's Benoi Yard, the Hoverbarge measures 34 m long and 17 m wide and has a 50 tonne payload. It is formed by joining specially designed modular ISO container size pontoons with skirt pontoons and a lift fan and engine module.

Hovertrans Solutions says this modular concept allows the entire Hoverbarge to be trucked individually to inland areas that need such a capability and which would otherwise be impossible to access. It also allows for shipping via conventional container vessels - thus keeping mobilisation costs low. With a hover height of 1.8 m, the hoverbarge is able to operate in high sea conditions and overcome obstacles on land.

Ng Sing Chan, president of ST Marine and chairman of Hovertrans Solutions said, "The successful completion of this hoverbarge marks a turning point for ST Marine and Hovertrans Solutions." He stressed, "The completion of the Hoverbarge now enables potential customers to see and appreciate how a hoverbarge works and its potential for a diverse range of applications."

This 50 tonne Hoverbarge is different from conventional high speed hovercraft as it is constructed of steel to provide the ruggedness needed for the oil and gas sector. It is also designed for cold weather operations up to - 40°C. It can move heavy cargo or equipment over swamps, wetlands, tundra, ice, dry rivers and shallow water, opening up exciting possibilities for oil and gas exploration and remote field development. With a footprint of only 1 psi, conducting operations in environmentally sensitive terrain will now become a real possibility.

Registered in Singapore, Hovertrans Solutions is a subsidiary of ST Marine and is led by a management team responsible for pioneering the heavy lift hoverbarge since the 1970s. ST Marine (Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd), the marine arm of ST Engineering, provides turnkey building, repair and conversion services for a wide spectrum of naval and commercial vessels.