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The SSV Navicula Star is FreeStar's first acquired vessel. (Image source: FreeStar Subsea Services)

A newest addition to the ever-growing innovative offshore market is FreeStar Subsea Services, a merger by Vriezoo ROV Services and Mark Offshore

After years of dedicated research, the company has launched the outfitted SSV Navicula Star vessel, acquired from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ).

Founded by Mark van der Star and Willem de Vries, FreeStar boasts its equal efficiency in not only offering ROV but also survey support services. Over time, it has extensive plans to introduce a comprehensive suite of subsea services, including bathymetric and geotechnical surveys, cable protection, and burial operations.

“The SSV Navicula Star is equipped with an onboard ROV to quickly respond and save costs at the start of a project. The vessel can accommodate 11 people and is equipped with a crane, two davits and an A-frame with several winches, for deploying and/or recovering a variety of loads into or out from the water. The ROV control and survey desk are situated inside at deck level for quick response to the workdeck. With a draft of only 1 m, it is also capable of beaching. In our view, this makes the Navicula Star the ultimate shallow water vessel,” said Star, who has 25 years of experience as a sailor, shipowner, and both operations and commercial director. 

Bringing in a rich experience from his own underwater inspection business, Vriers ensured that the venture's procedures are ISO certified and comply with voluntary ISM standards. “With our fleet of five offshore and four inshore ROV systems and the Navicula Star, we can provide our clients with complete service offerings,” he said. 

As the market for vessel capacity continues to be tight, FreeStar's entry couldn't have been timelier. 

Tech innovations galore

Given the time-consuming process of acquiring and familiarising with the nature of a vessel, FreeStar onboarded AI-provider TechBinder whose smart vessel optimiser (SVO) was deployed to build a network of all electrical systems and ensure power optimisation. It made the complicated process of understanding a vessel's power dynamics and making data-driven decisions smooth sailing. Vessels are increasingly becoming electric with the latest example being the modular, electric-drive design of the 18-mtpa Rovuma Onshore LNG facilities

The SVO technology can constantly monitor exhaust fumes output and update consumption patterns accordingly. While it is originally a diesel-powered vessel, the Navicula Star will run on HVO biofuel, keeping sustainability in mind. 

Another company that became a part of the project with its interactive map system GR:Dit was Periplus. GR:Dit allows users to store and analyse all kinds of spatial geodata, which can be directly accessed even mid-survey or mid-ROV mission. 

“We are very proud to have taken delivery of the Navicula Star and to have started FreeStar with Mark Offshore. This will elevate our service level and broaden our horizons. I am excited to embark on this new journey and look forward to growing the business in the coming years,” said Vries.

Star said, “We are shallow draft and offshore specialists. With our own vessel, added with Vriezoo’s underwater inspection, repair and maintenance capabilities, FreeStar is looking forward to serve our existing and new clients around the globe. I am enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead and look forward to showcase the Navicula Star to our clients. We want to thank NIOZ for their cooperation and the delivery of the RV Navicula. We are very proud to give this beautiful lady a new career!”