| Written by Michal Wozniakowski-Zehenter

Venturing into the vast expanse of the open ocean to get to an offshore job can be quite an adventure, especially for newcomers to the world of offshore work. Now, don't let the term 'Walk2Work' (W2W) fool you. It's not about casually walking to a neighbouring office on a paved path. It's about the strategies and tools that offshore companies have crafted to ensure their teams can journey safely from land to offshore posts and back with ease. But.. how? and why?


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Today’s offshore world. What can be seen? Platforms, wind farms, FPSOs. There’s a high demand for skilled workers and it’s growing rapidly. But, they also throw in their set of challenges. Top of the list? Ensuring staff can get to these remote spots safely, swiftly, and reliably.

Enter the Service Operation Vessels (SOVs), the latest wave of change in the offshore sphere. Tailored explicitly for the distinct demands of offshore tasks, these vessels are armed with top-tier amenities to prioritize the safety (learn more about emergency mustering) and performance of their onboard crew.

Among the bouquet of offerings by SOVs, the Walk2Work feature truly makes waves. It ushers in a seamless transition for crew members from the vessel to their offshore workspace, sidelining the complexities of helicopter commutes or reliance on tinier boats. With this service, individuals can easily traverse via a designated gangway, bridging the vessel to the platform or wind energy setup. What really changed the game of transportation is the introduction of motion-compensated gangways. Walk2Work uses an advanced hydraulic and electronic system to counter the ship's movement, creating a steady and safe bridge from the vessel to the platform and allowing smooth and risk-free transitions.



In light of the heightened global focus on environmental stewardship, many Walk2WorkW SOVs prioritize eco-friendly designs. They are leveraging hybrid drive systems, resource-efficient devices, and methodologies to cut down emissions and contaminants. Adopting sustainable practices not only curtails their ecological footprint but also resonates with worldwide regulatory standards and corporate eco-ethics.

Walk2Work SOVs have ushered in a new era in maritime commuting, diminishing the age-old dependency on modes like helicopters. Beyond their economic viability, these vessels bring unparalleled adaptability, capable of functioning in varied meteorological conditions, even removing helicopters in some scenarios. Their steadfast and trustworthy mode of conveyance has markedly elevated the workflow in the expansive offshore domain.

A standout feature of Walk2Work SOVs is their adaptability and tailoring capabilities. Be it for fossil fuel ventures, wind turbine upkeep, or marine research missions, these sea vessels can be modified to house the necessary facilities and tools. They come equipped with modifiable working zones, generous storage spaces, and state-of-the-art technical apparatus, making them versatile for multiple offshore roles.

To helm Walk2Work SOVs, an exclusive skill set and comprehensive education are imperative. All aboard are trained exhaustively, especially in the mechanics of motion-compensated walkways, crisis management, and other vessel-specific attributes. Regular training regimes and assessments are paramount to uphold peak safety norms and efficiency, ensuring both the welfare of staff and the fruitful culmination of offshore assignments (see also our article about "emergency response time offshore").

From an economic lens, the streamlined operations of Walk2Work SOVs bring about pronounced fiscal gains. Furnishing a cost-effective and trusty mode of conveyance, they've played a role in curtailing the expense metrics of offshore enterprises. Plus, fewer interruptions due to climatic challenges and heightened personnel safety have led to noteworthy financial efficiencies, reinforcing the indispensable role of Walk2Work SOVs in the maritime sector.



By the dawn of 2030, Walk2Work SOVs are poised to undergo marked transformations in automation and safety protocols. Coupling cutting-edge sensor capabilities with AI-enhanced solutions, these vessels are projected to preemptively identify hazards, ensuring instantaneous preventive measures. Upgraded safety guidelines promise elevated crew member protection during both personnel transfers and deep-sea endeavors. As the tech sphere accelerates, Walk2Work SOVs will relish the perks of superior communication infrastructures. Next-gen satellite connectivity and sophisticated communication channels will underpin instantaneous data relay between the maritime unit and land-based squads, underlining efficient synchronization and strategic decisions. Such evolved connectivity prospects also herald remote system oversight and management, bolstering both safety and procedural finesse.

Mirroring the maritime sector's sustainability shift, future Walk2Work SOVs will harness green construction materials and champion eco-centric design paradigms. Embracing lightweight, recyclable components not only trims down environmental repercussions but also accentuates fuel conservation. Design novelties, like streamlined hull geometries and resource-efficient mechanisms, will curtail emissions and pare down the vessels' eco-impact.

Tapping into avant-garde meteorological predictions and navigational solutions, Walk2Work SOVs will adeptly steer through formidable climatic conditions. Instantaneous weather insights meshed with AI guidance will empower these ships to chart optimal courses, skirting volatile weather and oceanic challenges. Such adept navigational skills promise heightened operational safety, trims potential downtimes, and amplifies output.

Come 2030, the propulsion arena of Walk2Work SOVs is set to witness a significant sway towards fuel cell innovations. Representing an eco-conscious counterpart to conventional fossil-fueled engines, fuel cells transmute hydrogen or alternate sustainable fuels into electricity. This transition epitomizes a diminished carbon trail for Walk2Work SOVs, resonating with the sector's green aspirations.

As seafaring autonomy evolves, Walk2Work SOVs anticipate synergies with these pilot-less maritime entities to boost operational dexterity. Autonomous ships have the potential to play various roles, from inspecting equipment and gathering data to assisting in specific personnel transfer situations. Collaborations like these promise improved efficiency, cost savings, and heightened safety, especially by lessening the risk for people in challenging marine environments.

Reflecting the escalating emphasis on renewables, Walk2Work SOVs will adopt intelligent grid mechanisms to rationalize energy consumption and pare down non-green dependencies. These maritime behemoths will house evolved power allocation systems, adept at smartly rationing energy harvested from renewables like wind or solar, to assorted on-board functionalities.

With such impending evolutions, the horizon of 2030 shines brightly for Walk2Work SOVs. From pioneering eco-friendly drive systems and AI assimilation to upgraded safety regimes and alliances with unmanned maritime units, Walk2Work SOVs' future is brimming with prospects for operational finesse, green integrations, and unrivalled excellence.



What is a Walk2Work Gangway?

The Walk2Work (W2W) gangway, often referred to as a motion-compensated gangway, is a specialized extendable and adjustable bridge or passageway that connects a service operation vessel (SOV) to an offshore installation, like an oil platform or a wind turbine. Its primary purpose is to safely transfer personnel and sometimes equipment between the vessel and the offshore structure.

How many SOVs operate on the North Sea?

The demand for Service Operation Vessels (SOV) has increased by 20% year-on-year since 2016, according to Spinergie analysis.

A critical factor in this demand increase is the rise of offshore wind and the suitability of SOVs, in comparison to others, for this work, especially in the harsh weather conditions present in high-activity offshore wind markets such as the North Sea.

Indeed, the North Sea continues to be the largest SOV market. As a regional comparison for vessel count, the North Sea contained 31 SOVs in October 2022 compared to 2 in China/East Asia and 1 in Southeast Asia/Australia. Therefore, here our main focus is the North Sea.



Walk2Work SOVs are at the forefront of pushing for advancements in vessel design. Continuous research and development efforts are focused on incorporating cutting-edge technologies to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of these vessels. From utilizing hybrid propulsion systems to implementing energy-saving measures, they are paving the way for a greener future in offshore commuting.

In conclusion, walk-to-work offshore has revolutionized commuting by offering a safer, more reliable, and more comfortable method of transportation. As the offshore industry continues to evolve, these vessels will play an integral role in driving advancements in vessel design, safety protocols, and green technologies. Through continuous improvement and innovation, Walk2Work SOVs are redefining the standard for offshore commuting and ensuring a brighter future for offshore workers.

Dive deeper into one of our core topics: Personnel on Board