UK-based CWind has invested in vessel monitoring and motion control for its fleet of offshore windfarm maintenance vessels to improve safety and extend operating capabilities
CWind operates a fleet of 16 crew transfer vessels that transport turbine technicians to offshore wind turbines in the North Sea.
To enhance the ride quality on the vessels and ensure that technicians do not get sea sick and arrive for work in good shape, its multipurpose catamarans and small waterplane area twin hull (SWATH) vessels have been fitted with motion control, bridge communications and monitoring capabilities, as managing director Lee Andrews explained.
He told Marine Electronics & Communications that the technology is combined in these vessels to improve safety for the personnel that they transport to remote working areas. The catamaran and SWATH hulls are designed for comfort during transits, which reduces crew fatigue and technician sickness during long and difficult transits.
“Motion stabilisation control and live monitoring systems expand our capability to service the offshore wind and renewables industry,” Mr Andrews said. The vessels’ design and technology is backed up by a strong training programme for their crew, including simulator practice to extend their experience and competence.
"Motion control and live monitoring systems expand our capability to service the offshore wind and renewables industry"
“Safety is our number one priority,” Mr Andrews continued. This approach “is underpinned by adopting industry best practice, our can-do attitude and delivering customer-focused services with continued dedication to engineering innovative solutions,” he said.
Bridge workstations have controls for Rolls-Royce waterjets that increase vessel manoeuvrability and responsiveness to sea conditions when approaching the turbine transition piece.
Once there, one of the biggest challenges for these vessels is providing a safe transfer for crew to the transition piece’s landing platform in rough seas. CWind’s SWATH vessels have stabilisation controls for fins with multi-axis capabilities that reduce pitch, roll and heave motions. There are also controls that are specifically configured to reduce bow heave motions at vessel speeds of zero and near zero, which is a crucial element for ensuring safe transfers to offshore turbines, said Mr Andrews.
CWind’s vessels, such as CWind Endurance, pictured, can also transport cargo to offshore windfarms and provide other operations and maintenance support. This flexibility is supported by their moveable wheelhouse and modular storage pod system.
Mr Andrews said the bridge communications technology on the company’s 16 vessels enable real-time monitoring from shore. CWind Endurance has Inmarsat L-band satellite communications that includes antennas supplied by Intellian Technologies. The vessels also have Simrad radar for navigation and operating close to offshore wind turbines.
Vessel operations benefit from downloaded information on imminent weather, sea conditions and turbine movements. The vessel crews also send daily reports to shore managers covering weather conditions, hours at sea, breakdown assessments, vessel trends, turbine motions and wave levels. Mr Andrews said customers benefit from these reports through reduced vessel downtime and having more control over work rotas.
• CWind provides crew transfer and cable laying services for offshore windfarms in the UK and Germany. It has experience on 40 projects. The latest UK contract for crew transfer vessels was for Dong Energy’s West of Duddon Sands Offshore in the Irish Sea. Outside the UK, its latest contract was for cable pull-in services for 66 offshore wind turbines and one offshore substation at Merkur Offshore windfarm, which is being constructed 45 km from the island of Borkum in the German sector of the North Sea.