The news that the OSV Despina has gone into lay-up, with Larissa scraping by in Nigeria, should surprise no one. No two assets highlight how the industry overbuilt more than these two ships: for a start they aren’t even very good, underpowered and with crane issues. Reef couldn’t get them to work for more than token time in a booming market.
Originally OSVs were valuable because they could do a large number of diverse tasks but by the time these were built day rates were so high people wanted smaller versions of the real thing (say a Volantis)… but cheaper. Operational and performance compromises were made and the price was reduced. Larissa and Despina could find some work in a booming market but as the work dried up the compromises become ever more evident. In reality there is no market for these vessels for the foreseeable future. Not old enough to be scrapped and not good enough to secure regular work.
These ships were part of a classic investment bubble: there was a degree of rationality at the time to their specification and price but they relied on perfect market conditions for shipowners. The second this changed they were always economically and operationally compromised assets.
There are a lot more vessel stories like this coming as shale becomes the marginal producer of choice as oil prices rise. I believe the restructuring on the vessel side has only just begun.