Leading offshore vessel owner Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO), Ørsted and Eversource have agreed a long-term charter for the provision of the first US-flagged, Jones Act-compliant service operation vessel (SOV).
The SOV will be engineered, built and operated by ECO as an integral part of the operation and maintenance of the Revolution Wind, South Fork Wind and Sunrise Wind offshore windfarms on the US’ northeast coast.
The SOV will be utilised during the operation & maintenance (O&M) phase of the projects, serving as a base for offshore wind technicians.
ECO described the SOV as "a special-purpose design with a focus on passenger comfort and safety, enhanced manoeuvrability and reduced ship motions, extended offshore endurance and reduced emissions".
The vessel will be built at Edison Chouest’s shipyards in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, creating more than 300 new construction jobs. ECO said construction of the vessel “will also have a broader economic impact on other US states hosting suppliers of major components.” Some notable beneficiaries are North Carolina and Illinois for steel and main engines, respectively.
“While the offshore wind industry is relatively new to the US, states in the Gulf of Mexico, who have a long history in offshore-related industries, stand to gain from the high transferability of existing jobs over to offshore wind,” ECO said. “In addition to jobs created in Louisiana, the vessel will operate from New York once in operation.”
ECO president Gary Chouest said, “The offshore wind energy industry is well developed and understood, particularly in Europe where an enormous industry has developed over decades, but this industry is in an initial stage in the US.
“There is an unprecedented opportunity, with 12 offshore wind projects planned, an additional 10 offshore wind leases signed, and another six wind leases awaiting award.
“In aggregate, there is a pipeline of well over 25 GW of power to be produced by over 1,700 wind turbines, across 13 states. In various stages of development that will require an incredible array of vessels, resources, knowledge, and capital commitment to install, operate, and repair.
“We are unique in the US offshore marine vessel industry with our own in-house engineering group, own shipyards and a wealth of expertise in the offshore industry, along with the ability to engineer, construct and operate specialised vessels for this market.”
Ørsted North America offshore chief executive Thomas Brostrøm said, “This is an incredible moment for the American offshore wind industry.
“It is hard to state what this moment means for this new, multi- billion-dollar industry. The SOV is not only a crucial part of our plans to build out and operate our northeast windfarms, it represents just how far reaching the economic impacts of offshore wind can be. Offshore wind means massive investment for US companies and jobs for American workers, even those in states without active projects.”
Eversource Energy executive vice president Joe Nolan said, “Today’s news represents a key moment in the advancement of the offshore wind industry in the US.
“Not only is this new vessel a critical component of our plans to build and develop clean energy in our country, it’s a testament to how far the industry has come in such a short time and what we can achieve moving forward.
“This vessel will help us deliver on the promise of creating jobs, driving economic growth, and combating climate change and will play a key role in our efforts to support states in meeting their commitment to decarbonisation.”
Offshore Marine Service Association president Aaron Smith said, “OMSA is thrilled that Ørsted and Eversource are investing in US vessels.
“This is proof that offshore wind will be an economic driver for the US maritime industry and that the US maritime industry is fully capable of satisfying the needs of the offshore wind industry.”
The vessel will be in excess of 260 ft in length and will have accommodation for 60 passengers. ECO said the crew and passengers will enjoy access to accommodation with private bathrooms, an exercise room, cinema/training room, internet café and multiple lounges.
The SOV will include a below-deck warehouse to palletise storage for windfarm tools, components and supplies with step-less access to an elevator.
A daughter craft with a launch and recovery system and hydraulic height-compensating landing platform, will also be installed for infield turbine repair operations.
In keeping with the environmental goals of the offshore wind industry, the vessel will be diesel-electric and will meet EPA Tier 4 emission standards. It will have a proprietary ECO Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.