Crowley’s first Russian—flagged vessel provides offshore support to oil industry near Sakhalin Island
On February 22, Crowley Maritime Corporation’s Marine Services unit announced the deployment of the Crowley Alliance, the company’s first Russian flagged and crewed vessel serving the offshore oil industry near Sakhalin Island, Russia.
The vessel is owned and operated by Crowley Far East Services, a Crowley subsidiary formed and incorporated in Sakhalin State, Russia. The subsidiary, which is part of the corporation’s marine services segment, offers marine and shore side logistics and transportation services to the energy and construction industries in the region.
A contest to name the vessel was held amongst the students at the Senior High School of Korsakov, Russia. Valiakhmetova Ekaterina, the 8th grade student who won the contest said the name Alliance was chosen because in translation from the French, the word means “the union, association of persons or the states for achievement of overall aims.”
In the fall of 2005, Crowley entered into a contract with Exxon Neftegas Limited (ENL) to provide an Ice Strengthened Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) for the ORLAN, an 80,000 metric ton offshore production and drilling platform. To provide this service on a long-term basis, ENL required the vessel to be flagged under the Russian Federation and crewed by Russian Nationals.
Crowley is no stranger to the ORLAN. The company towed the ORLAN from its original location off Alaska’s north slope to Sovetskaya Gavan, Russia in 2001; then from Sov Govan to Ulsan, Korea in 2004, and finally from Ulsan to offshore Sakhalin Island in the summer of 2005.
The Alliance, which Crowley purchased from Maersk Supply Service, is a UT 708 design 12,000 BHP AHTS that is Lloyds Ice Class 1A Super. The vessel has the hull strength and power to break first year ice up to one meter (39 inches) thick, and during the most severe part of the Sakhalin winters will follow an icebreaker to the ORLAN location. In addition, the Alliance can provide ocean towing, anchor handling, and general supply duties for ENL’s offshore projects and will help extend their operating season due to its capability to contend with early winter and late spring ice.
On January 26, the crew of the Crowley Alliance raised the Russian Flag signaling the end of the mobilization phase and the beginning of a new chapter for Crowley in Russia.
During the flag raising, Captain Vladimir Bogomazov, shorebase and marine supervisor for ENL stated, “We congratulate all of the Crowley team with the raising of the Russian Flag on your vessel. It is a great milestone for Crowley. I wish the Alliance and its crew good luck.”
Reaching this point was not an easy task as Crowley took possession of the vessel in Egypt on November 28, 2005. To meet the demands of the fast approaching winter in Sakhalin, ENL needed the vessel to be ready to work by January 15, 2006. The team had only 32 days to mobilize the vessel over 7,000 miles, dry dock, change the flag state, hire and train a crew, and establish ISM compliant operating procedures for the vessel and company.
In early February, the Crowley Alliance posted a sailing board to make her inaugural voyage to the ORLAN located in ice-filled waters off Northeast Sakhalin Island.