For six and a half decades Hellesøy Verft has been located within the Norwegian village of Løfallstrand on the country’s southwest coast. It was established in 1945 by Thorvald Hellesøy and started out manufacturing small, traditional wooden boats and continued expanding this range, delivering wooden vessels between 25 and 85 feet for another 25 years. In 1972, however, the yard began using steel as its primary material and has maintained an outlook of modernisation to this day.
Today, Hellesøy Verft has remained an independent and family-run firm that is primarily involved with outfitting a wide range of ship types. As Øystein Hellesøy, son of Thorvald and current managing director, points out, this work involves a number of different roles: “Outfitting of vessels involves many suppliers and subcontractors. A standard outfitting of, for example, a supply vessel would take approximately five to six months from start to completion. We are a small yard but through co-operation with several local subcontractors within piping, electrical installations, accommodation and painting, the overall capacity of Hellesøy Verft is very good.”
A recent example of the yard’s work is the delivery of four VS 485 platform supply vessels (PSVs) in 2009 and 2010; they are the Troms Artemis, Havila Crusader, Troms Pollux and Troms Castor. Three hulls were constructed at a yard in Istanbul, Turkey, before being delivered to Løfallstrand for outfitting and completion. They were delivered to ship owner Tor Østervold and his co-operating partners Solvik Offshore, Troms Offshore and Vestland Offshore. Tor has been one of the yard’s most loyal partners and, together with other shipowners from the district of Austevoll south of the city of Bergen, they have worked on approximately 20 vessels since 1977 including offshore supply and purse seiner fishing vessels.
There are a number of reasons why Hellesøy Verft has become a leading ship outfitter, throughout the years working with clients across Norway as well as select ship owners in Scotland, Ireland, Sweden and Mexico. “We have been and still are very flexible,” Øystein illustrates. “We can, with short notice, adjust the capacity and size of orders to whatever the ship owner requests. The maximum size of our vessels is approximately 120 metres but flexibility within this range is core to the yard’s work.” Furthermore the compact layout of the yard means work areas are in close proximity to one another, affording efficient work and good communication between its 30 staff.
Beyond the skills and expertise offered by its own staff, Hellesøy Verft also works with a network of specialist and subcontractor firms as previously illustrated. These partners come from throughout the country as well as internationally to ensure its projects always receive the best available attention. This means, during the busiest periods, it is able to handle a workforce of up to 250 persons; even large and complex builds, therefore, present little challenge. Though the Løfallstrand site does not possess a dry dock – thereby preventing the yard from offering any repair or maintenance services – its decades of experience leaves it as one of the few leading yards fully committed to newbuilds.
It is no surprise then that business for Hellesøy Verft has remained good even throughout the financial crisis, bolstered by the business of its long-term client: “The trust and co-operation with Tor Østervold has, from the signing of the contract for Troms Castor back in October 2006, resulted in a reliable and sizeable order situation for the company,” Øystein points out. “The ships have gone on to develop into a success for the shipowner, so the contracts have been a win-win situation for everybody involved: yard, owners and suppliers. The designer of the vessels, Wartsila Ship Design from Fitjar close to Austevoll area, has been one of the keys to the success.”
Looking forwards, the yard already has projects in the pipeline. Currently it is working on its 149th vessel, another VS 485 PSV design, for Solhaug AS and Vestland Offshore; the same owners have also placed a second order for another PSV. Both these vessels have been designed in conjunction with long-term co-operative partners Wärtsillä Ship Design. Westland has also optioned two further ships – numbers 151 and 152 from the yard – to be delivered in May and October 2013 respectively.
These four vessels add to an already impressive portfolio stretching back over 65 years, embodying Hellesøy Verft’s combination of efficiency, ability, reliability and strong network of contacts. Remaining small but effective remains a core principle for the yard, and Øystein concludes that its plan for the future focuses on the advantages this setup offers: “Our strategy is to remain ‘steady as she goes’ through close co-operation and high flexibility with ship owners and designers within the offshore, fishing vessel and marine activities. We want to remain small but mighty.”