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Under sea connection

Hull-based Northern Divers is positioning itself to take advantage of the opportunities in North Sea offshore wind farm projects. NCE reports.

Yorkshire-based underwater civil engineering and diving company Northern Divers is preparing for more work in the green energy sector as the UK steps up its offshore wind power construction programme.

It has helped complete wind farms across the globe and is now targeting energy-related projects on its own doorstep.

Humber opportunities

The firm believes it is well placed to offer its specialist support as major wind turbine manufacturers, such as Siemens, are looking to base large-scale assembly operations in the Humber area.

Northern Divers has built up a diverse portfolio of projects and clients across the marine engineering sector. Work has included carrying out bank reinstatement work, gas pipeline inspections and harbour surveys for a wide variety of clients, from port owners to utility companies, such as Yorkshire Water and Wales & West Utilities.

“We may be a diving company, but our range of services is much more sophisticated than simply providing men in diving suits,” says Northern Divers managing director John Sparrowe.

“We’ve been working in the Humber for more than 40 years and know about the dangers it poses”

John Sparrowe, Northern Divers

 

“We specialise in underwater civil engineering and can find ourselves working on a long-term project, from initial assessment right through to final completion and operation. This includes hydrographic surveys, environmental projects, pipeline construction and bridge inspections.

“One of our most important qualities is a genuine ‘can-do’ attitude,” he says.

“As much of our equipment is fully mobile, we are able to carry out salvage, inspection, maintenance and repair operations anywhere in the world - with clients including international contractors, overseas governments, local authorities, shipping and insurance firms.”

Essential requirements

Flexibility, patience and a good deal of professional mettle are also essential requirements for these marine civil engineers.

Such characteristics have previously been demonstrated with a project in the Humber estuary, where the divers had to contend with strong tides and zero-visibility to cover parts of an exposed underwater pipeline.

The divers covered sections of pipeline with special concrete “mattresses”, to help the route better withstand the Humber estuary’s notoriously strong tidal streams.

The mattresses were lowered to the riverbed by floating crane, using GPS technology to find the right location in the estuary.

Poor visibility

Lack of underwater visibility meant that the divers had to use their sense of touch to accurately fix the mattresses in place and connect them together by hand.

“As a company, we’ve been working in the Humber for more than 40 years and know about the unique issues and dangers it poses,” says Sparrowe.

Northern Divers hopes to pick up a wide range of work, including local offshore renewables projects.

“We are have the most up-to-date diving, inspection and maintenance technology. We could be involved at almost any stage as turbine manufacturers and wind farm operators establish a greater presence on the east coast of England,” says Sparrowe.

“This could be anything from preparing the harbour and dock sites that will house turbine
factories - whether that be completing repair work or hyrdrographic surveys - to the installation of cables from wind farms as they come ashore.”

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