New offshore ROV and subsea services company
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New offshore ROV and subsea services company

Breaking into the offshore scene with vigour, FreeStar Subsea Services announces its arrival as a formidable contender. Born from the successful union of Vriezoo ROV Services and Mark Offshore, FreeStar introduces its own specific approach: the seamless integration of ROV and survey support services. What sets FreeStar apart is its recent acquisition and transformation of the SSV Navicula Star vessel, propelling its operational capabilities to new heights. With this strategic move, FreeStar takes centre stage, ready to revolutionize the subsea service landscape.

Founders Mark van der Star and Willem de Vries developed the concept over the course of several years before actively and commercially joining forces and acquiring their first vessel, the Navicula Star from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). “With the purchase of this vessel, our journey began,” explained Van der Star, who has 25 years of experience as a sailor, shipowner and operations and commercial director. “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 has 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 work deck. With a draft of only one metre, it is also capable of beaching. In our view, this makes the Navicula Star the ultimate shallow-water vessel.”

Bathymetric and geotechnical surveys

FreeStar aims to offer a comprehensive suite of subsea services, including bathymetric and geotechnical surveys, cable protection and burial operations. “With our fleet of five offshore and four inshore ROV systems and the Navicula Star, we can provide our clients with complete service offerings,” says Willem, who like Mark also has many years of experience, including 16 running his own underwater inspection business. “Safety is our top priority, and our procedures are ISO-certified and comply with voluntary ISM standards.”

Acquiring a new vessel requires time to fully understand its systems, which is why FreeStar Subsea Services engaged TechBinder with its smart vessel optimizer (SVO) to connect all electrical systems and optimize power management. TechBinder’s AI capabilities are instrumental in understanding a vessel’s power dynamics and making data-driven decisions. With the help of the SVO technology, the Navicula Star will be the first 44-year-old vessel to become a truly ‘smart ship’.

In terms of ROV and survey services, FreeStar has opted to collaborate with Periplus and its GR:Dit system to map all collected data and make it accessible for its customers. GR:Dit is an interactive map enabling users to store and analyse all kinds of spatial geodata. The system provides clients with direct access to the data while the survey and ROV mission are ongoing.

Sustainable operations

Striving for sustainable operations is at the heart of FreeStar’s operation and management. At Vriezoo, all ROV operations and its workshop are fully electrified, minimizing CO2 output. This goal is embedded in FreeStar’s business model. Although the Navicula Star is a diesel-powered vessel, she will run on biofuel, such as HVO. The SVO technology will constantly monitor the CO2 output of the vessel and later the entire company, for which this technology is also suited. This will enable FreeStar and its partners to identify energy consumption and reduce it where possible.

Willem de Vries, managing director of Vriezoo ROV Services and co-founder of FreeStar Subsea Services, stated: “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.”

Mark van der Star, managing director of Mark Offshore and FreeStar’s co-founder, said: “We are shallow draft and offshore specialists. With our own vessel, combined with Vriezoo’s underwater inspection, repair and maintenance capabilities, FreeStar is looking forward to serving our existing and new clients around the globe. I am enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead and look forward to showcasing the Navicula Star to our clients. We also want to thank NIOZ for their cooperation and the delivery of the RV Navicula Star, as we are very proud to be giving this beautiful ship a new career!”

With the acquisition of the Navicula Star from NIOZ, FreeStar Subsea Services embarked on its journey. (Image courtesy: FreeStar Subsea Services)
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