MENKAR is one of three Pilot Ships designed by the Royal Dutch Navy for the Dutch Pilot Service and built in ‘Cappel A/D Ussel’ Shipyard in Holland in 1977. The general design is referred to as the ‘Spica Class’ and as a result this batch were named after stars beginning with the letter ‘M’, her sisters being MIRFAK and MENKAR.
With Diesel/Electric propulsion her three generators can power her along at a comfortable 12 knots or can ‘loiter’ using one engine and a much-reduced fuel consumption. At anchor an air-cooled Deck generator can power the vessel including galley and air-conditioning at an even lower figure and is easily maintained or, if needed, replaced as it is mounted on the Starboard side of ‘G’ deck.
Originally configured with accommodation for Pilots in the Southern North Sea the Pilot cabins have had their capacity increased to reflect her current use in Maritime Security and with her Mess deck areas this ship could easily be used to act as an Emergency centre alongside a quay providing Power to a shore installation, water from the water-maker and communications and administration using her V-sat system.
The ‘helicopter’ area on ‘G’ deck is currently used as additional accommodation with the addition of three Containers and there is additional storage forward with a 20’ container mounted on the foredeck. The ‘Deck weight rating’ of the helicopter deck is unknown.
Davits on either side of the stack carry the Ship’s tenders and there is space on the Port side of ‘G’ deck for a Rescue Boat or additional tender.
MARKAB was bought by Ambrey late in 2017 and was taken to Dubai for her 5-year ‘Special Survey’ where the hull was water-blasted to bare metal and inspected; the Surveyors were astounded at the overall condition of the hull and didn’t realise they were looking at a 40-year old hull so good was the overall condition. When they saw the Engine Room they were once again impressed and her record of reliability since has been impressive. The nature of the work she has been carrying out, with extended periods at anchor in the Red Sea, has meant that the wear-and-tear on the Main Engines has been minimised as she has been running mainly on the Deck Generator.
MARKAB has just completed her 5-year ‘Special Survey’ in June 2022 and launched back into service this season operating in a ‘Supply and Support’ role for other ships ‘on station’.
A number of these Dutch ships have been converted to Expedition Yachts such as ALTAIR