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As Briggs Marine celebrates its 50th anniversary, the marine and environmental company looks at the highlights from the last 5 decades, reflects on its growth and provides an insight into what lies ahead.

One of Briggs Marine's first workboats

As Briggs Marine celebrates its 50th anniversary, the marine and environmental company looks at the highlights from the last 5 decades, reflects on its growth and provides an insight into what lies ahead.

The company, headquartered in Burntisland, Scotland, initially became involved in the marine industry in the 1970’s when Robin Briggs established the company to provide workboats to assist with marine based construction works around Scotland’s coast.

Fast forward 50 years and the landscape looks entirely different. Whilst Briggs Marine remains a family-owned business, the fleet now boasts over 30 vessels and the company’s service offering encompasses port and vessel management, cable installation and repair, diving and salvage services, heavy moorings and Aids to Navigation (AtoN) management, as well as oil spill response services. The list is not exhaustive.

Briggs Marine’s Managing Director, Collieson Briggs, will modestly tell you the company has simply ‘navigated the marine industry well’, but the fact is, Briggs Marine has grown to become market-leading marine experts due to its collaborative and adaptive approach and the ability to evolve and stay ahead of the curve.

Reacting to the Market

Briggs Marine’s success has been achieved through planned and careful investment throughout the years in both its assets and people.

During the 1980’s Briggs identified an opportunity in the Environmental Services market and by 1987 had invested in an oil spill response vessel and established “Briggs Environmental Services”. This foresight saw the company play a part in the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster response team as well as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989.

High pressure water at Valdez
High pressure water at Valdez

These days, the number of oil spill occurrences have significantly reduced, mainly due to much improved process and Health and Safety standards within the industry. However, this has not stopped Briggs Marine’s environmental services division evolving. It now provides consultancy and training, with much work coming from land spills including road traffic oil spills, as well as flood defence response.

The late 80s also saw Briggs Marine start providing vessels and manpower for oil and gas terminal operations. This move saw the company secure contracts for intermodal sites where ship-to-shore transfers were necessary. Through its ability to provide tailored solutions to meet the needs of the client, Briggs’ Terminal and Energy Storage Solutions Division has seen growth with a presence in 10 UK terminals. Briggs Marine are now well aligned to support the market as the transition to renewable energy and hydrogen takes place.

Briggs Marine provide manpower at Stanlow Oil Terminal
Briggs Marine provide manpower at Stanlow Oil Terminal

Briggs expanded its workboat fleet to meet the needs of its client base and now owns a comprehensive fleet of assets that includes workboats, multicats, barges, crane barges and anchor handling vessels. The vessel fleet is used to support Briggs projects as well as being available for short or long-term charter.

Forth Drummer available for Spot Charter
Forth Drummer available for Spot Charter

Through the years

At the turn of the millennium, Briggs Marine continued to expand its portfolio of services, this time, with heavy moorings and AtoN refurbishment. Twenty years later, the company is now the UK’s biggest provider of AtoN management services and is responsible for the maintenance and repair of all MoD heavy moorings and navigation aids around the UK, Gibraltar and Cyprus.

Buoys to be refurbished
Buoys to be refurbished

The company also provides this service to many UK ports and provides single point mooring (SPM) repair and maintenance at overseas locations. It is with this experience and having a dedicated fabrication and refurbishment base in Burntisland, that Briggs Marine are firmly placed to expand this offering to meet the future demarcation needs of the Renewables industry where buoys and aids to navigation are required.

The noughties also saw the establishment of a subsea cables division. This was a move that would see the company provide bespoke cable installation, maintenance and repair services to the subsea power, telecommunication, offshore wind farm export and inter-array cables industries.

Cable Installation by Briggs Marine
Cable Installation by Briggs Marine

With Framework agreements in place for some of the UK’s largest utilities companies, recent work has taken the Briggs team to multiple UK locations from the south coast of England to the far ends of the Orkney islands.

This same period also saw the expansion of the company into the provision of long term vessel management and port services for customers with a requirement for marine services but where this was not their core skill. Briggs Marine has successfully established itself as the marine operator of choice for coastal, nearshore and port areas, with current services including provision of pilot boat services, survey vessel provision, mooring services, ro-ro terminal operation, workboat operations, environmental response and the previously mentioned AtoN services.

Briggs Employees Provide Full Landside Port and Terminal Operations Services at the Port of Dover
Briggs Employees Provide Full Landside Port and Terminal Operations Services at the Port of Dover

The Future is Green

Now with a firm footing in the renewables industry, Briggs Marine currently holds framework agreements with just under 40 wind farm operators for cable repair services. Its most recent contract award includes a requirement to design, install, maintain and finally decommission a temporary Transition Piece (TP) Dehumidification System for Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm.

Briggs Marine Crew Transfer Vessel
Briggs Marines CTV vessel

The company’s recent purchase of a 12pax CTV vessel, saw Briggs further cement its relationship with the offshore wind industry which has been complemented by a recent walk to work provision for NnG for which Briggs sourced and converted a suitable vessel.

Briggs Marine’s investment into the renewables industry includes the acquisition of a majority stake in ARB WIND in 2021. The Fife-based inspection, testing and certification business, together with Briggs’ marine expertise and project management capabilities, creates a partnership that offers a complete package in terms of maintenance services for wind farms.

Crossing the boundaries

Based on the Forth Estuary which, provides easy access to the North Sea, Briggs Marine is well positioned to provide support to offshore wind operators around the UK shoreline.

However, the UK’s coastal waters do not limit the company which has grown significantly in the last fifty years and now boasts international operations in the Caspian Region, the Falkland Islands and with the addition of “Foreshore”, Canada.

Briggs Marine’s recent signing of a collaboration agreement with Horizon Ocean Management (HOM) to provide an O&M consultancy and service provision will see the company enter the burgeoning Japanese market.

The agreement will involve both companies working together to provide world-class operational strategic advisory and service provision across the offshore wind asset spectrum.

Reflecting on the last fifty years Collieson Briggs, Managing Director of Briggs Marine, summed up what he deems the success of the company:

“Briggs Marine has stayed relevant to the market whilst ensuring it remains competitive, all the while sticking to its original values.

We focus on delivering comprehensive solutions to our clients to minimise risk exposure and enhance competitive edge.”

Briggs Marine are delighted to have this article featured in the Maritime Journal