DEME inaugurates world's largest rock placement vessel

Belgian marine engineering giant DEME has inaugurated the Yellowstone, the world’s largest rock placement vessel, in the port of Zeebrugge. It plans to serve the booming offshore market worldwide with the vessel.

Princess Astrid inaugurated the Yellowstone on Tuesday. The nearly 200m-long vessel is the largest of its kind in the world.

The rock placement vessel, or fallpipe vessel, is a floating factory. It is used to protect critical underwater infrastructure, like power cables and oil and gas pipelines, or to reinforce wind turbines. It does so by placing a layer of rocks around it using advanced technology.

The Yellowstone can lower into the sea a robot that can place rocks accurately to the centimetre. Those rocks are deposited via a fallpipe that goes to a depth of 1,500m.

The Yellowstone can carry up to 37,000 tonnes of rocks in its hold. This large capacity is a cost-efficient advantage when large distances need to be covered, like in the US, where the vessel will be used for the first time for major works in a few weeks. After a small job in the North Sea, it is heading for the US, where a new wind farm is being built off the coast of Virginia. IT will pour foundations around the wind turbines there.

The Yellowstone is not entirely new: its hull was taken from a 12-year-old vessel, to speed up the process and serve the booming offshore market as quickly as possible.

#FlandersNewsService | Inauguration of DEME's new rock placement vessel, the largest of its kind in the world © BELGA PHOTO / VIDEO KURT DESPLENTER

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