Representing a completely new generation of offshore support vessels, they were built by the Ulstein group at Ulsteinvik in western Norway and went directly into service on the field.
Normand Draupne was designed to satisfy Mobil’s functional requirements. Measuring 83.5 metres long, its four powerful engines developed a total of 18 000 horsepower.
The ship could perform a wide range of duties embracing both supply and standby services, including evacuation, fire-fighting, oil spill collection, emergency towing and anchorhandling. It could also act as the mother ship for a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
A new gondola system adopted by Mobil for platform evacuation was installed on Normand Draupne . This untested solution involved establishing a cableway from platform to standby ship. The British navy used a similar system for ship-to-ship transfer of weapons and supplies.
A line was first shot from the platform to the standby ship and then used to pull a cable across. A lifeboat-type gondola hanging from the cable could shuttle back and forth to evacuate personnel.
This project was eventually shelved, but the forepart and bows of Normand Draupne had already been constructed with an eye to the evacuation system.
The standby ship was named on 14 June 1985 in the Port of Stavanger by Nelly Langholm, a nurse on Statfjord A.
Norwegian Wire Service (NTB), 14 June 1985.
Origo – house journal for Exploration & Production Norway, Statoil, November 2009, p 24.