Over the past few years, there has been a significant growth in the offshore wind industry. It has become larger than ever, and according to current expectations and predictions, it will keep on growing over the next 10 to 20 years. Due to an increasing demand for clean energy, more wind farms will be built offshore in the future.

With this in mind, the industry continues to develop new turbines, tools, monopiles and vessels to meet the demands. These include Van Oord, the international marine contractor, who developed its first cable-laying vessel, the Nexus in 2015. For this vessel, they requested support from HVR Engineering. The cofounder of HVR Engineering – John Hessels – takes us back to the project.


“If we look at the start of this project, then we must also look at our previous project for Van Oord,” says John. “A few years before the Nexus was developed, we supported them with another vessel, the HAM 602. This is a side stone dumping and cable-laying vessel that was originally built in 1968 and upgraded in 2012-13.

“On the HAM 602 project, we actually designed the basis for the Nexus. Van Oord wanted a cable-laying vessel that could be operated by only one man with a fully automatic system. We supported them with the development and upgrade of the HAM 602 and its system, and found a way to make the vessel an efficient, cost-effective and safe cable-layer.
“During this project, the foundations for a fully automatic system that could be operated by one man were laid, which was unique for cable-laying vessels at that time.”


“After the HAM 602, Van Oord came to us regarding their new cable-laying vessel – the Nexus,” continues John. “It was a completely new ship that was developed and engineered from scratch. However, it already had the fundamental principles from the HAM 602 and would be the first cable-laying vessel that could be operated by one person with a fully automatic system.

“When we started the project, Van Oord already knew what equipment they were going to use. For example, the huge cable carousel, which gives the vessel the capacity to lay more than 5,000 tonnes of heavy and long export cables.”


HVR Engineering faced the challenging task of finding the optimal solution for the equipment and system to work together efficiently and safely. This was achieved by executing simulations of the behaviour of the system and the equipment.

“By analysing the results of the simulations, we were able to advise Van Oord about the most suitable solution for the Nexus,” adds John. “After the simulations, they made the decision to modify multiple aspects in regard to the equipment and add extra functionality to the quadrant. The quadrant was originally designed to guide the cables efficiently without any chance of nods in the cable. Alongside this, the quadrant was now also equipped with a heave compensation system that enables the Nexus to lay cables in higher sea states.”


After the creation of the new equipment, it was time to commission the equipment on deck. HVR Engineering was again asked by Van Oord to support them during the commissioning phase. “In the offshore wind market, we have seen that it’s vital to have the optimal deck layout,” says John. “It’s important that you commission the equipment correctly and in the most efficient way.”

For the commissioning of the NEXUS, there were multiple options for the deck layout suggested by Van Oord’s Project Manager Gerry Mensink. They started with checking concept A and ended with concept G. During this phase, Gerry checked the ideas with personnel on board to create the most optimal working conditions. This included mobilising the support of an ergonomics specialist to create the most optimal sightlines for the cabin.

“After the deck layout was chosen, we developed a test plan to commission the equipment step by step,” adds John. “Firstly, the equipment was tested at another location. If it worked correctly, it would be commissioned on deck and linked to the other equipment. “ The commissioning of the Nexus was very successfully.
“Due to the preparations made by Van Oord, they were able to commission the equipment quickly without any replacements. We are very proud to have been a part of this journey.”


The Nexus was deployed for the first time in March 2015, directly after the naming ceremony. At this time, the vessel has finished its first project successfully and is still active as a cable-laying vessel. The Nexus is known for its unique deck layout with the anticipation of future market requirements, its efficiency and its way of safe cable-laying.

“With the solutions we developed with Van Oord, they created an optimal deck layout, which is unique in the market,” says John. “We are happy to have supported Van Oord during this project and are looking forward to helping them during their next project.” HVR Engineering is now working with Van Oord on their next project, the Bravenes.


HVR Engineering worked together on the HAM 602 and the Nexus with Gerry Mensink. We spoke to Gerry about the project and the cooperation between the two organisations: “HVR Engineering is a unique engineering agency. John is probably one of a small group in the market who can simulate performance and control of hydraulic and electronic systems,” says Gerry.

“Alongside that, he knows how the programming of the system works. For the Nexus, we used the simulation details to program the system with his help. After the Nexus, we asked HVR Engineering to work on the Bravenes. It’s nice to cooperate with someone who has the same goal for a vessel.

“For the Nexus, our goal was to make the vessel an automatic controlled vessel that could be operated by one person. Eventually, it became an efficient vessel that fully controls the loading and laying of cables. The Nexus fulfilled all our expectations.”

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