Mass Maritime opens first US facility for offshore wind training

Screenshot2019 10 29at10.10.45am

The following is text of a news release from Massachusetts Maritime Academy:

(BUZZARDS BAY, Mass.) — Ahead of launching the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm, state officials gathered on Thursday to mark the opening of the nation's first facility for training workers in the emerging offshore wind industry.

Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov.Karyn Polito, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides, and Stephen Pike, CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, joined officials from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to launch the first-in-the-nation offshore wind crew transfer training facility. The group of state and college representatives officially christened the training vessel as part of the second annual Massachusetts STEM Week.

The project is a partnership between Mass Maritime, state government and industry, including Vineyard Wind, which was selected in 2018 by the commonwealth’s Electric District Companies under the state’s first competitive procurement for offshore wind. Vineyard Wind is installing two 400-megawatt turbines about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Over the next few years, Massachusetts will pursue two more projects that could bring another 2,400 megawatts of wind power to the state.

Prior to the opening of the Mass Maritime training facility, there was no other organization in the United States accredited to provide a full safety program required for workers in offshore wind. Providing critical infrastructure that will give both college students and adults seeking new careers the necessary skills and certification to work in the emerging industry, Baker said this positions Massachusetts to become a major player in offshore wind.

“We were literally, when we got into this, just trying to create an alternative energy source and demonstrate that it could be done in a way that would be affordable,” Baker said. “This is the start of something very big, very sustainable and very important.”

The training facility represents a significant investment by the commonwealth to grow a workforce for offshore wind, and supports safety training for workers moving from relatively small crew transfer vessels to the fixed support structures of wind turbines in the open seas.

“This facility is an example of how all things maritime can meet the energy sector,” said Rear Adm. Francis X. McDonald, president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

A recent study by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center estimates that over the next decade, offshore wind farms will create up to 3,000 jobs and generate economic impacts between $1 billion and $2 billion in the region.

“Offshore wind is a crucial part of our administration’s climate strategy,” said Polito. “We are grateful to Massachusetts Maritime Academy for their partnership to ensure Massachusetts workers have the necessary certifications, credentials and safety training to build these projects and lead us to a clean energy future.”

By Professional Mariner Staff