Middle East owner P&O Maritime Logistics has struck a lucrative deal to offload a multipurpose support vessel for a big premium to its newbuilding cost.

The 98-loa Topaz Tangaroa (built 2019) has been acquired by the UK Ministry of Defence to be used as a subsea protection ship.

VesselsValue put the price at $74.86m, against a newbuilding bill of $62m at Vard in Romania and Norway.

The UK said its critical subsea infrastructure is set to be strengthened by the vessel, the first of two it intends to acquire.

The Topaz Tangaroa is now at the Cammell Laird shipyard in north-west England for “military modification” into a multi-role ocean surveillance vessel to be operated by the Royal Navy from the summer of 2023.

The deal was first mooted in November, but has been accelerated to have the ship working months earlier than originally planned.

The Topaz Tangaroa will safeguard seabed telecommunications cables and oil and gas pipelines, acting as a mother ship for remote and autonomous systems.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace said: “The first of two dedicated subsea surveillance ships will join the fleet this summer, bolstering our capabilities and security against threats posed now and into the future.

Critical infrastructure

“It is paramount at a time when we face Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, that we prioritise capabilities that will protect our critical national infrastructure.”

The ship, which will be renamed, was built to support a mix of underwater operations, including work on oil rigs, construction, maintenance and inspection, and autonomous submarine operations.

It is equipped with a helipad, crane and expansive working deck, and features a moon pool — a large access point in the underside of the hull through which submersible capabilities can be launched.

The government said the programme for the acquisition of a second ship is “currently in concept phase”.

P&O Maritime retains a fleet of 41 offshore support vessels, plus nine offshore construction vessels, a ro-pax, a heavylift ship, a product tanker, a container ship and six dry cargo units.