The Silja Europa Off-shore Gas Exploration Support Ship

Off-shore Gas Exploration Support Ship

When a 1,000-berth cruise liner was being transformed into an accommodation support vessel for off-shore gas exploration, the Gorgon Joint Venture chose ISD Tech to install an integrated security system including Cloud-based access control and Public Address & Voice Alarm (PA/VA). The client consortium (which includes oil & gas giants Chevron, Shell and Mobil) was determined to optimise safety for exploration engineers working near Barrow Island off the north-western coast of Australia.

The challenge

The initial logistical challenge was that the ship, the Silja Europa, was 13,000 miles away in Finland. During the refit, ISD Tech staff worked alongside more than 600 contractors from multiple trades at the Luonnonmaa shipyard, the largest and busiest dry dock in northern Europe. The window of opportunity for the work was narrow and potential financial penalties for missing deadlines were extreme.

ISD Tech had to reconcile conflicting priorities from engineers working in other disciplines while installing access control that would secure the ship from intrusion and sabotage. A major site challenge was the need to pre-enroll the other contractors as early as possible in the refit process so that they could use their smart cards and proximity fobs to move around the ship by identifying themselves to the IP readers and keypads from Keyscan Access Control Systems.

Conditions at the Finnish dry dock were demanding, with the access control equipment needing high IP ratings to withstand ingress of salt and fumes. Contaminants have increased manyfold now that the Silja Europa is operating in the rugged environment of petro-chemical exploration from a small island in the Indian Ocean over 100 miles from the Australian mainland.

ISD Tech solution

The end-user had insisted on an integrated access control and PA/VA solution that would future-proof their investment by being modular and scalable. The Silja Europa is a support rather than an exploration vessel but all aspects of the marine petro-chemical sector are highly regulated in terms of health, safety and quality assurance. The client has leveraged its investment in access control to reduce manned guarding on the ship (calculated at £100,000 a year per guard) and in a hazardous environment where security through technology is far preferable to manpower.

A Cloud-based access control system was an ideal approach because ISD Tech could perform much of the system deployment and configuration from their head office in the UK. This not only produced tangible cost savings but, crucially, reduced congestion for engineers working on the vessel in the dry dock.

ISD Tech are a preferred installer for Keyscan Access Control Systems whose IP control suite is allowing remote updating of cardholder privileges, scheduling of visiting contractors, door maintenance and system status reviews. The Gorgon Joint Venture is benefiting from Keyscan’s wide variety of internal and external proximity door readers and key pads with potential to introduce biometric controls for sensitive areas of the ship. The Keyscan equipment is fully integrated with a PA/VA system which, in an extreme situation, would transmit life-safety announcements. This approach meets the client’s demand for a holistic solution rather than self-contained elements. ISD Tech’s installation also meets and exceeds the marine access control requirements specified in the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code which is the maritime sector’s procedural response to 9/11.


Management of access control onboard the Silja Europa through Internet-enabled devices will allow the oil consortium to link the ship with enterprise control software in other parts of the Barrow Island gas project which includes a 2,100-metre supply vessel jetty and covers 300 hectares with varied infrastructure including gas liquefaction and processing plants.

The client has the reassurance that a hierarchy of access privileges in the ISD Tech installation enforces a strict ‘need-to-be-there’ system on staff movements around the ship. This can be crucial to safety managers who need to demonstrate duty of care.

The client can add unlimited door controllers to the installation on a modular basis. The fact that the Keyscan TCP/IP modules generate data in the Wiegand protocol (widely used across many security disciplines) further increases the potential for ongoing centralization of systems at the gas complex. Seamless integration, maximum flexibility and unlimited scalability were all requirements when ISD Tech were awarded the project. Consolidating access control with PA/VA produced savings of £60,000 alone.

“Installing our access control equipment at such an early stage of the ship fit-out meant that ISD Tech could allow free movement around the site to legitimate contractors while denying entry to potential intruders at the dry dock. ISD Tech were able to enhance their offering to the oil consortium with Keyscan’s management software which has been generating intuitive reports on trends and anomalies so giving the end-user situational awareness from day one.”

Steve Dentinger, Director of Sales and Marketing, Keyscan Access Control Systems