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Sealord’s new deepwater fishing vessel the first in a generation

Thursday 20 October 2016

Fiona Terry

Work has already begun on Sealord’s new vessel, which is due to be delivered mid-2018. The fishmeal plant, hull steel and new series RollsRoyce engine have been ordered, and plans for the tailor-made, state-of the-art factory are under way.

 Designed by Norwegian naval architects Skipsteknisk, which has a reputation as an innovative ship design consultancy, the $70 million, 82.9m-long factory freezer trawler will provide up to 80 new jobs.

 “This will be the first new vessel for the country’s deepwater fishery in 20 years, since the introduction of the Rehua,” says Sealord CEO Steve Yung.

 “With the vision to be the best deepsea fishing company in New Zealand, this investment in the reliability, efficiency and increased capacity of our fleet is essential.”

 It’s been just a year since the idea of a new vessel was mooted. “Our fleet continues to age so replenishment is a must and the increased efficiency combined with new technology made this a superior option to purchasing second-hand vessels,” says Doug Paulin, General Manager Fishing. “The most important thing we do is fish, so, it was important to us to progress the best option rather than the cheapest one. Buying second-hand generally means you end up with significant costs to adapt, increased repairs and maintenance, and older technology so we knew we were going to look at two main designers that are big in factory trawlers.”

 Skipsteknisk, designers of among other vessels Sealord’s Rehua and the Aukaha, wasted no time in starting on plans to fit the company’s needs. The results were impressive, as was the commitment to quality and value for money.

 “We took one of the latest large fillet trawlers and essentially sat with the designer and customised it to our needs, including things like putting in a fishmeal plant, a hoki factory and a pelagic factory suited for New Zealand species,” says Doug. “The whole focus has been on efficiency. All the operating systems will be state-of-the-art and the factory alone will involve a $10 million investment.

 “There’s no room for mistakes. The analogy I use to demonstrate what we’re getting into is that we’re effectively building a jumbo jet that you’re about to soak in salt water 365 days a year, so it’s got to be good.”

 The new vessel will be Sealord’s most efficient and sustainable yet, fitted with, among other advances, new Precision Seafood Harvesting equipment, as well as the ability to produce its own electricity via winch systems. It will be able to fish for all Sealord’s target species such as hoki, orange roughy, along with pelagic fish like barracouta, squid and jack mackerel – something the company’s previously only been able to do through chartering vessels.

 Sealord put the build project out for tender to six shipyards, from Holland, Spain, Norway, Turkey, Brazil and Vietnam.

 “We chose Simek in Norway on the basis of quality and value for money,” says Doug. “It is a family-owned Norwegian shipbuilders and had just finished an impressive pelagic boat for a UK-based company.

 “Most of the fishing equipment suppliers are based in Norway too, as well as the factory suppliers and fishing electronics businesses, so it made sense.”

 The vessel, a series ST-118 with a beam of 17m and engine of 4800kW, will have the capacity with each voyage to hold 1000 tonnes of fuel, 1000 tonnes of fish and 300 tonnes of fishmeal.

 “There’s a huge amount of technology and electronics involved in a fishing trawler because we’ve got winches, the factory, the latest fishfinding technology, cargo handling systems, fishmeal plant, and a big crew with all the support systems that go with them. Plus, the operation’s got to run to the exacting hygiene standards expected of any food processing facility.

 There’s also a full pack line and freezer storage. It’s actually amazing there’s so much that can be fitted in. It’s like taking Sealord’s Nelson site, condensing it down to 17m by 82.9m and then venturing down into the Southern Ocean with it.”

 The trawler, which will have the capacity to catch 20,000 tonnes of fish a year, will have an automatic plate freezer and palletising facility – which means great savings in efficiencies.

 “The entire lower deck will be factory space, so it’s significant in size. Being purpose-built, our engineers are able to sit down and assess, with all the experiences we have of hoki processing, what we ideally want.”

 As for the crew’s facilities – it will accommodate its 45 crew in facilities likened to those of a top hotel.

 Equipped with 14 single and 15 double en-suite cabins, a gymnasium, two separate lounges, spacious galley and efficient laundry facilities, the fit out is set to impress as much as the fishing and processing capabilities.


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