15 November 2023






3 mins

One of the ships that drew the attention of the world when she was used to transport diving equipment to the Barents Sea to assist attempts to reach the Russian submarine KURSK , the UT742 design offshore support vessel NORMAND PIONEER was spotted was once again at Malta.

The new UT742 design used for the NORMAND PIONEER incorporated the owner’s requirements for a multifunctional offshore vessel capable of trenching, flexible pipe-laying, towing and anchor handling. The design has given the vessel roughly 280t bollard pull. The working deck area is almost 1,000m² and can carry about 3,500t with her centre of gravity 1m above the deck out of a total of 5,300dwt. Due to this, up to 2,500t of top side equipment for trenching, pipelaying and other subsea or drilling work can be installed.

Twin monopools run through from the bottom to the main deck. The aft one measures some 7m² and is designed for pipe-laying, while the forward one is 4.5m² and can be used for the deployment of inspection class remote operated vehicles. The moonpools are fitted with baffles to prevent seaspray reaching the deck.

The vessel’s winch can pull 500t and has a capacity for 1,500m of 109mm wire. Twin tow drums each hold 2,000m of 83mm wire.

During building the NORMAND PIONEER , the yard utilised its method of modularising work flow to improve work efficiency. On the vessel, four modules were located in the engine room and three aft. By prefabricating modules, as much activity as possible is shifted from the engine room to the workshops. This method of pre-outfitting does require greater attention to planning and timely delivery of components.

During 2016, at Delimara, rock testing started as part of study to determine the route of the gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily. Meanwhile, preparations continued for the arrival of the LNG storage tanker that will supply the new power station until the gas pipeline is completed and in 2015 the project was classified as one of common interest to the European Union and therefore eligible for European funds.

Drilling was done near the Delimara energy plant to collect rock samples for testing as part of the study on the 155 kilometres long gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily.

Meanwhile, in Marsaxlokk, the NORMAND PIONEER was completing the infrastructural work in the seabed where the LNG Floating Storage Unit (FSU) ARMADA LNG MEDITERRANA  will be anchored in case of stormy weather.

The installation of the eight anchors proposed by Vryhof had to be undertaken in a bay area with water depths ranging from 14 to 17 metres, but with heavy marine traffic. The permitted work area was so narrow that the only way to tackle the problem was to employ Vryhof Anchors’ tensioner . No other installation method is as well suited to such a shallow bay location, since its design involves a vertical pull to induce more than twice the horizontal pull. Furthermore, the work area taken up by the construction support vessel Normand Pioneer was cut by as much as 75%; a decisive benefit in this particular situation.


NORMAND PIONEER was represented in Malta by Medsea Shipping Agency – which they are our SPONSORS too for a lifetime.


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