While the market for new workboats is virtually nil along the Gulf Coast, hope is in the wind for shipbuilders in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.
The ball started rolling in 2016 with the delivery of Atlantic Pioneer, the first crew transfer vessel (CTV) purpose-built in the United States to support offshore wind farm construction and maintenance. The 70-foot aluminum catamaran, constructed by Blount Boats for the Deepwater Wind project off Block Island, R.I., is based on a CTV design from South Boats IOW of the United Kingdom that is popular across Europe.
As plans have advanced for other wind projects off the East Coast, so has the need for U.S.-flagged vessels to serve them. In May, offshore wind farm developer Orsted entered into a partnership with WindServe Marine LLC, an affiliate of the Reinauer Group, to build a pair of CTVs for Jones Act service.
The vessels are designed by the U.K.-based BMT Group, which has a portfolio of nearly 50 CTVs operating in Europe. U.S. Workboats of Hubert, N.C., is building the first vessel, initially for service in Orsted’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. The second CTV will be built by WindServe’s affiliate shipyard, Senesco Marine of North Kingstown, R.I., for the Revolution Wind field between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard.
“(The design) is one of the most comfortable and versatile in the industry,” Orsted said when the vessel orders were announced. The developer added that the boats will be classed by DNV GL and will meet “the highest of build standards needed in the offshore wind industry.”
The first CTV is scheduled for delivery in early 2020. Construction of the second boat is slated to begin in late 2020, according to Orsted. Vessel dimensions were not announced.
“With over 95 years of experience in the maritime industry, we are committed to offering premier offshore wind support services to the East Coast and look forward to contributing to the future of offshore wind growth,” said Craig Reinauer, president and CEO of the Reinauer Group. “Thanks to Orsted, this partnership … will provide new, sustainable jobs for U.S. workers.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management clouded the outlook for additional orders of Jones Act CTVs in early August when it called for a delay in the Vineyard Wind project, set to be the largest in the U.S. The agency said it would expand its review of the 800-megawatt Massachusetts project to include a “more robust” analysis of the cumulative effects of other offshore wind farms built in the region.