MV Oceanic Viking

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Oceanic Viking, Fremantle, 2010 (4435803388).jpg
MV Oceanic Viking
Civil Ensign of Australia.svg Australian Customs Flag 1988-2015.svgAustralia
Name: MV Oceanic Viking
Owner: Eidesvik Shipping AS
Operator: P&O Marine Services/Australian Customs Service
Builder: Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk, Flekkefjord, Norway
Launched: 1996
Out of service: June 2010
Isle of Man
Name: European Supporter
Owner: P&O Maritime Services (UK) Ltd.
Operator: P&O Maritime Services (UK) Ltd.
Port of registry: Douglas, Isle of Man
Builder: Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk AS
Yard number: 961
Launched: 17/2/1996
Status: In service
General characteristics [2]
Class and type: DnV + 1A1 Cable Laying Vessel
Tonnage: 9,075 GT
Length: 105.6 m (346 ft)
Beam: 22 m (72 ft)
Draught: 6.83 m (22.4 ft)
Propulsion: 2 x 3,560 kW (4770 hp) at 660 rpm
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Complement: 25 crew + up to 50 Customs and Fisheries officers.
Armament: 2 × .50 caliber machine guns in customs service
Notes: Former offshore oil pipeline layer and cable layer

The MV Oceanic Viking was an armed patrol vessel of the Australian Customs Service. Originally built in 1996 as the offshore supply vessel Viking Lady for Norwegian shipping company Eidesvik Shipping AS, the ship was converted into a cable layer in 2000 and renamed Oceanic Viking. The ship was chartered to the Australian Customs Service through P&O Marine Services from 2004 to 2010. In 2011, it was purchased by A&P Tyne, Isle of Man, and renamed European Supporter.


The ship was built in 1996 for Norwegian shipping company Eidesvik Shipping AS as an offshore supply vessel and named Viking Lady.[citation needed] The vessel is 105 metres (344 ft) long and has a gross tonnage of over 9,000.[3]

Operational history[edit]

Eidesvik Shipping[edit]

In 2000, the ship was converted to a cable layer, renamed Oceanic Viking, and used for laying optic fiber cables between Europe and North America.[4][5]

Australian Customs Service[edit]

In 2004, Oceanic Viking was converted to an armed patrol vessel and bareboat chartered to P&O Maritime Services, who operated the ship for the Australian Customs Marine Unit.[3][6] The vessel was primarily assigned to patrols of Australia's southern offshore territories for illegal fishers, particularly those seeking Patagonian toothfish, but was also deployed on other border protection and patrol operations around Australia.[3] While chartered, Oceanic Viking was flagged as an Australian vessel, and was operated by a 60-strong crew, including Customs and Fisheries personnel, along with civilians.[3][6] Oceanic Viking was fitted with two .50 calibre machine guns,[3] making it the first Australian-flagged merchant vessel to be armed in peacetime.[7]

In early September 2005, Oceanic Viking intercepted a 2,000 GT Cambodian vessel found poaching in the Southern Ocean.[8] Later that month, the ship apprehended three Indonesian vessels illegally fishing near the Northern Territory's Wessel Islands; one of the vessels failed to stop when ordered, and one of Oceanic Viking's machine guns was used to fire warning shots.[8]

In October 2006, Oceanic Viking traveled 1,800 nautical miles (3,300 km; 2,100 mi) in eight days to answer a distress call from the Kerguelen Islands.[9]

In December 2007, the Australian Government tasked the Oceanic Viking with monitoring Japanese-flagged vessels involved in whaling in the Southern Ocean.[10] During the seven-week surveillance exercise, personnel aboard Oceanic Viking filmed Japanese whalers and their activities to gather evidence for possible legal action.[11] The machine guns were secured below deck during the surveillance mission.[12] During the deployment, two Sea Shepherd Conservation Society protesters who boarded the whaling ship Yūshin Maru No. 2 were transferred to Oceanic Viking after being detained by the Japanese.[11] The Australian government regarded the operation as successful,[13] but it was criticised by some political commentators, such as Dennis Shanahan, as not having been effective in countering Japanese whaling, and potentially harming Japanese-Australian relations.[14]

In October 2009, Oceanic Viking was involved in an operation to apprehend 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers and move them to an Australia-funded immigration detention centre on the Indonesian island of Bintan for processing.[15] The asylum seekers were taken to Indonesia but refused to disembark until 17 November, after a preferential processing deal was agreed upon.[16] The 78 asylum seekers were transferred to Indonesian detention, and after a month, were determined to be refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and resettled in several countries.[16][17] While travelling back to Australia, Oceanic Viking intercepted a boat on 3 December carrying 53 suspected asylum seekers and four crew off the Ashmore Islands; the 50th asylum seeker vessel to be intercepted in Australian waters for the year 2009.[18]

European Supporter[edit]

The European Supporter

Oceanic Viking was taken out of service in June 2011.[19] It was replaced by the chartered offshore supply ship MV Skandi Bergen which was renamed ACV Ocean Protector. Oceanic Viking subsequently became the UK-flagged MV European Supporter.[20]

The European Supporter was fitted out at A&P Tyne, so she would be able to install power cables between wind turbines to take advantage of the rapidly expanding offshore renewables market in the UK and Europe. A 7m long abrasion resistant steel chute was installed onto the vessel’s stern, from which cables could be lowered onto the sea bed. Other work included a major overhaul of the generators, modifications to the steelwork inside the hangar accommodating the ROVs and to the switchboard, electrical repairs and refurbishment of the pumps. The European Supporter has the capacity to accommodate 5,000 tons of power cable in two static tanks, using a newly installed power cable loading arm.[21]


  1. ^ "European Supporter". Maritime Traffic. Retrieved 23 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Oceanic Viking Datasheet
  3. ^ a b c d e Australian Associated Press (19 November 2004). "Toothfish pirates to face armed patrols". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Conversion of the Supply Boat Viking Lady to the trans-ocean Fibre Optic Cable Layer Oceanic Viking". 
  5. ^ "Subsea Telecom Notebook, January/February 2001". 
  6. ^ a b "Oceanic Viking secures bareboat charter from Australia". Offshore Shipping Online. 1 October 2004. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Donald Rothwell and David L. VanderZwaag (2006). Towards principled oceans governance: Australian and Canadian approaches and challenges. Taylor & Franci. p. 130. ISBN 0-415-38378-1. 
  8. ^ a b Australian Associated Press (28 September 2005). "Warning shots fired at fishing boat". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Australian patrol ship carries out double medical rescue in Southern Ocean". Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. 20 October 2006. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Armed vessel to monitor whalers". Herald Sun. 18 December 2007. Retrieved 18 December 2007. [dead link]
  11. ^ a b Australian Associated Press (27 February 2008). "Oceanic Viking returning to port". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "Unarmed Australians to watch whaling". Herald Sun. 19 December 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2007. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Oceanic Viking Returns to Australia" (Press release). The Hon. Bob Debus, Minister for Home Affairs. 27 February 2008. Archived from the original on September 4, 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  14. ^ Shanahan, Dennis (27 June 2008). "Real Dog of a Policy". Opinion. The Australian. Retrieved 7 December 2008. 
  15. ^ Australian Associated Press (22 October 2009). "Towing boats back is humane - Rudd". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Fitzpatrick, Stephen (17 November 2009). "Oceanic Viking asylum-seekers to land tomorrow - reports". The Australian. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  17. ^ Kirk, Alexandra (17 December 2009). "Australia looks to friends to resettle Tamils". ABC News. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  18. ^ "Oceanic Viking picks up new asylum boat". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Australian Associated Press. 3 December 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  19. ^ "Mothership being readied for asylum-seekers". The Australian. 30 July 2010. 
  20. ^ "European Supporter (IMO: 9126584)". 
  21. ^ "A&P Tyne wins wind power work". Maritime Journal.