Dockwise directors approved an order for a giant semi-submersible vessel with a lifting capacity of more than 100,000 metric tons.
The contract is subject to shareholders approving a $100 million stock issue to partially finance the $200 million cost of the ship.
Netherlands-based Dockwise said it has applied for a patent for the design of the "Type O" vessel and is currently negotiating with selected "first rate" shipyards over its construction.
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The design for the ship, with a deck size of 275 meters by 70 meters, has already passed its tank tests.
The largest ship currently in the Dockwise fleet is the 73,000 ton Blue Marlin.
Dockwise said the rationale for the new vessel, which will feature a bowless design, is that the majority of its revenue originates from the oil and gas industries, where current trends for projects and equipment "are distinctly towards greater scale and size for premier projects."
Exploration and production is shifting from shallow water in traditional areas to deep water and remote areas, boosting demand for larger, heavier equipment in single transportable modules.
Plant and equipment are increasingly constructed in dedicated, low cost environments ahead of transport.
"The decision to invest in this unique new vessel once again underlines our view towards the future and the position of Dockwise at the premium end of the marine heavy transport industry," said Dockwise Chief Executive Officer Andre Goedee.
Dockwise said it expects the new vessel to be occupied following its planned delivery in late 2012.
Three major shareholders accounting for just over 37 percent of Dockwise's shares have pledged to vote for the $100 million stock issue and subscribe to shares not taken up by other shareholders.
Separately, Oslo-listed Dockwise reported third quarter net profit rose to $13 million from $5 million in the previous three months while revenue slipped to $109 million from $112 million.
The order backlog edged up to $400 million from $389 million in the second quarter.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.