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World’s largest construction vessel Pioneering Spirit arrives in Shetland for decommissioning project

Lerwick, Shetland: Pioneering Spirit, the world's largest construction vessel,
arrives in Dales Voe with the 8,500 tonne Ninian Northern jacket for decommissioning. Photo: Rory Gillies/Shetland Flyer Aerial Media.
Lerwick, Shetland: Pioneering Spirit, the world's largest construction vessel, arrives in Dales Voe with the 8,500 tonne Ninian Northern jacket for decommissioning. Photo: Rory Gillies/Shetland Flyer Aerial Media.

The world’s largest construction vessel arrived at Shetland today, marking the first time Pioneering Spirit has operated at a quayside in a UK port.

At 382 metres in length, Pioneering Spirit would tower a metre above the Empire State Building if stood upright, with a a deck large enough to fit three football pitches.

Today, the Allseas’ vessel delivered the 8,500 tonnes Ninian Northern production platform jacket to the deep-water port in Lerwick for decommissioning.

The jacket was previously lifted from the field around 100 miles north-east of the island.

Pioneering Spirit in the Firth of Forth.

While in Shetland, Pioneering Spirit will lift steel support structures onto a barge for removal and re-use so space can be made for the jacket.

It will then transfer it from Allseas’ Iron Lady barge to the quayside at Lerwick Port Authority’s Dales Voe base.

Captain Calum Grains, port authority chief executive, said: “The size of the jacket and the scale of the support fleet is another demonstration of the harbour’s established capacity to handle large – and even bigger – decommissioning projects.

“So, too, is the scope to accommodate the 382-metres long and 124-metres wide Pioneering Spirit in maneuvering in the voe and operating directly at the base, a significant milestone for Lerwick and the UK industry.

“That ability, and the competitiveness of the UK decommissioning and renewables industries, will be further enhanced by our project for an Ultra-Deep-Water Quay at Dales Voe, which we are continuing to progress.”

After being loaded-in to a heavy-duty pad at the base, the jacket will be dismantled and recycled by Veolia/Peterson over eight months.

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