As the sun rose over the North Sea on a chilly November morning, a shiny new vessel sailed over the horizon and into the Port of Blyth. Her arrival was watched by members of the Geos Group team, including Barry Newton, Liz Winship and Norman Donaldson, who were waiting patiently on the quayside in hard hats and fluorescent safety jackets. They were there to take delivery of the Thun Blyth, a nimble 4,250-deadweight product tanker, which promises to generate a range of new commercial opportunities for the company.
The Geos Group has grown steadily over almost 30 years into the largest independent marine fuel supplier in the UK, with physical storage locations in Blyth, Aberdeen, Peterhead, Lerwick, Heysham, Lowestoft and Scalloway. Its ongoing strategy is to be firmly in control of operations throughout its supply chain – from oil refinery to vessel – including transport, storage, and delivery by road and sea.
The latest step along this strategic path has been to embrace new developments in advanced ship-building technologies. Working with its long-term partner, shipowner Thun Tankers BV (based in the Netherlands), the Geos Group placed orders for two vessels custom-built with NaabsaMAX technology, which means ‘not always afloat but safely aground’. They have been designed to perform as efficiently as possible, with environmental concerns in mind, and to comply with the latest maritime regulations.
Operating the Thun Blyth and her sister ship will enhance the Geos Group’s competitive position in the supply market for several reasons: Unlike most vessels, their relatively small size and NaabsaMAX capability will enable them to call at tide-restricted and smaller niche ports, such as Guernsey and Alderney in the Channel Islands, and many locations around the Western Scottish Isles including Stornaway. They will also be equipped to make ship-to-ship deliveries, and utilised for short sub-charters and carrying cargoes on behalf of third parties.
The Thun Blyth was built at the Ferus Smit shipyard in Leer, Germany, and is being managed by MF Shipping Group. She was launched in a spectacular naming ceremony on 31 August, which was streamed live online to guests throughout Europe – an event that honoured all the rituals of a traditional ship’s christening.
Shortly after, she was taken out to sea by the ship’s Captain, Master Pieter Dekker, and his crew of 10, for a thorough programme of sea trials. Taking place over a number of weeks and accompanied by tugs and other support vessels, the sea trials consisted of testing and re-testing all of the Thun Blyth’s operational controls and safety features, at different speeds and in a variety of weather conditions, including safety drills and launching the life raft.
Having arrived in the Port of Blyth, the vessel’s maiden operational voyage was up to Aberdeen, where she was fully inspected upon discharge and approved for re-loading at the Phillips 66 oil terminal in Immingham. There, she and her crew were presented with a commemorative plaque from Graypen, the port’s agent.
The Thun Blyth is a great addition to the fleet, being tremendously flexible, reliable and responsive. She is now working alongside the larger 6,535-deadweight Thun Grace, which the Geos Group has been operating for several years. Meanwhile, work continues on the company’s second NaabsaMAX product tanker, which is due for delivery in 2022.
Click here to watch the Thun Blyth’s online naming ceremony, and to see her entering the water for the first time.