Seacat Services on the south coast of the UK has become the first operator of crew transfer vessels to adopt a new design developed by Chartwell Marine
April 2019 saw crew transfer vessel owner Seacat Services sign a multi-million-pound contract to build a next-generation catamaran hullform crew transfer vessel for deployment in the offshore wind sector.
Seacat Services has a fleet of 14 vessels and operates internationally, working directly with developers, utilities, manufacturers and support service businesses to provide offshore personnel and equipment transfers.
The vessel, to be named Seacat Weatherly, was designed by Southampton-based naval architect Chartwell Marine and will be constructed by Isle of Wight firms Diverse Marine and Aluminium Marine Consultants (AMC) in Cowes on the south coast of England.
The contract includes an option for a further vessel, which would see Seacat Weatherly joined by a sister vessel in the Seacat Services fleet.
Demand for crew transfer vessels is growing, particularly for vessels able to transport up to 24 windfarm technicians or industrial personnel. The Chartwell 24 is Chartwell Marine’s response to that evolving market.
Scheduled for completion in March 2020, Seacat Weatherly will be the first Chartwell 24 catamaran to enter service, a design based on 10 years of experience in designing vessels for the offshore wind sector.
For Seacat Services, the vessel – which can accommodate 24 industrial personnel, alongside four crew – will support its commitment to innovation and to safety, technical availability and ‘time on turbine’ for offshore wind technicians.
Chartwell marine claims Seacat Weatherly will boast one of the largest foredecks of any CTV design on the market, providing enhanced cargo-carrying capacity. The vessel design has been optimised for safety, with designated walkways, handrails and safety sliding rails positioned for safe, repeatable crew transfer.
The new design also has a unique wheelhouse configuration that provides total control and complete visibility during logistic and crew transfer operations.
At the same time, Seacat Weatherly’s hull and engine configuration have been designed to provide superior transit speed and manoeuvrability, alongside high bollard push and frictional holding force – both of which are critical attributes for vessels ‘pushing on’ to offshore wind turbines and other infrastructure.
Seacat Services managing director Ian Baylis said, “The Chartwell 24 is the vessel the market has been calling for. It not only responds directly to our needs as a vessel operator, but also ticks all the boxes for our offshore windfarm customers. Seacat Weatherly will help us set new benchmarks for safety, availability and performance.”
Chartwell Marine managing director Andy Page said, “The Chartwell 24 is a vessel design that was developed by the industry for the industry, with involvement throughout the offshore wind supply chain. We look forward, not only to the deployment of Seacat Weatherly in UK and European waters, but also to exporting the design overseas as international offshore wind development picks up pace.”
Although full details of the design have yet to be revealed, early iterations of the Chartwell 24 were based on four engines – and options for hybrid propulsion – to enable power sharing, enhancing efficiency and adding redundancy to maximise vessel reliability and availability.
Speaking at the time the design was first unveiled, Mr Page said, “With the Chartwell 24 we are responding directly to tried and tested vessel support approaches adopted throughout Europe, taking and building upon the best proven designs and equipping international operators and windfarm owners with a boat that is built for purpose, and meets their needs from day one.”