Wind farm support vessels: The Builders

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The one sector of the whole offshore wind energy industry where the British Isles stand in a commanding position is in the building of wind farm support vessels, of all shapes and sizes. The name “British Isles” is used because it includes the Republic of Ireland, and the yards there, including Arklow Marine, and Safehaven Marine, are just as much a part of this dominant position as all of those in the United Kingdom. But there are also more builders from elsewhere in the world …some of them are even quite large.

South Boats • UK

OW10_totaal_2.jpg 14 3In the last 12 months South Boats have received orders for 27 vessels, 2 of them in the RRV class with a GRP hull, and the remaining 25 over 16m, including 7 of their 24m class to the DNV 1A1 HSLC R2 Wind Farm Service 1 standard. Not all of the builds ordered are for their own design vessels. An order that was also completed was for 2 Australian Incat Crowther design vessels ordered by P&O Maritime in Ireland. All the other vessels ordered and built in this period are variations of the South Cat design, which has surely become a standard for the industry. They have recently moved into the Venture Quays site in East Cowes, and currently share this protected, listed building with the large UK flag painted on the doors with Vestas. Here they have based an already busy vessel service facility within the South Boats Group, for vessels in the offshore wind and other industries.

Alnmaritec • UK

With 4 vessels built for the offshore wind industry in the last 12 months and a further 4 under construction at the new Blyth yard, Alnmaritec maintains a strong presence in the offshore wind vessel market. The new building sheds alongside the quay in Blyth harbour give Alnmaritec the capacity for up to 20 vessels under construction at any one time. The vessels in their WFSV portfolio include the popular Wave Commander class and the new variant of this class with a raised wheel house such as the Ocean Wind 5, launched this year. Another new class, the Wave Master, was launched in September last year with the 20m x 7.2m Dalby Esk and the slightly larger 21m x 7m Wind Transfer built for the owners of Walney Windfarm.

Alicat Workboats Limited • UK

Alicat, a subsidiary of Richards Dry Dock and Engineering Limited, which in turn is part of the Great Yarmouth based Gardline Group, has been building aluminium catamarans since May 2009. In their third year they will have built 3 vessels for stock and are working on 6 vessels to complete current orders. Orders for a further 6 vessels this year are possible subject to contract approval. Their vessels are based on a Gavin Mair design from the Australian Global Marine Designs Pty. Both variations, the 17m and the 20m are built to DNV specification.

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CTruk • UK

Regular readers of Offshore WIND will remember that CTruk and CWind featured in our new concept article last April. These innovative vessels are still making news as Siemens recently has chosen CTruk vessels for charter. They have 2 new builds in progress for UK operator Offshore Turbine Services, the first for delivery in April/May, and the second in July. Additional to the CWind Alliance and CWind Athenia design, CTruk now has a SWATH design available. Already claming huge fuel savings with their vessels, CTruk are now working on making faster speeds possible in higher sea states with the SWATH design.

Damen • NL

Since the christening of the Marinco Shamal in Southampton last year at Seawork, Damen have taken their FCS 2610 twin axe design further with a really massive 4612 (length – 46m, beam – 12m) for up to 150 passengers, and a new “baby”, the 2008. There are two 2610 vessels working for the Scottish Marineco, and 11 more are on order from other operators for delivery this year. Damen have the enviable ability to build for stock and therefore cut delivery time drastically. They are so confident that the 2008 will succeed that 4 are being built before the first order is in. Variations in the 2610 design include the possibility for a larger passenger area or a survey vessel format. At the moment there are 13 2610 vessels being built at various Damen shipyards for stock, the first which will be available in Q4 of this year.

Austal & Incat Crowther • Australia

The Australians are coming… look out. With lots of experience in twin hull fast ferries, the Australians see the distance between their shipyards and the customer as no problem. As stated above Incat Crowther got around the problem by South Boats building their design under license. Austal already have yards in the USA for military builds, but will build their orders for four vessels in the European offshore wind industry at home near Fremantle, Western Australia. They have a 27.5m trimaran and three 21m catamarans ordered by the UK Turbine Transfer. The first of the ‘cats’ has already been launched and will shortly be ready for sea trials.

Danish Yachts • DK

What wind farm engineer would not like to go to work in a super yacht? They might well have to wait until they win the lottery, but in the meantime they could be sailing in a vessel designed for, and built by, luxury yacht builder Danish Yachts, the SeaStrider SWATH class vessel. It is the first SWATH design to use carbon fibre for the hull construction. The SWATH design is synonymous with stability, and faster speeds in sea states where perhaps other designs would not be so comfortable. We will report more on this builder in the future.

Mobimar Ltd • SF

Reported last year in Offshore WIND magazine, the Mobimar vessel with the gripper on the bow to hold the vessel on the transition piece, is now in the water. Delayed by the frozen Baltic in the longer than expected winter, the trials for this unique trimaran will be taking place as this piece is being written. Look out on and in the July issue of Offshore WIND magazine for more news.

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Mercurio Group • Spain

Mercurio Group has a long history in building commercial GRP working boats and their new build is based on their patented Ocean going 28m design. This is the first purpose built wind farm support vessel with sleeping accommodation not only for the crew but also for the 12 offshore wind engineers, where local regulations allow. The hull form is a development of one used for their fishing vessels, and as such has the seagoing ability of pedigree working boats. The vessel is substantially less heavy than comparable vessels and therefore has a fuel saving advantage. With large cargo decks, fore and aft, these vessels are able to sail with up to 20 tonnes of cargo on board. The first one, Ginny Louise, owned by Norfolk company Tidal Transit, is already working in the North Sea and will shortly be followed by the Eden Rose second.

Navalu • France

Back to basics in France. Navalu are building a simple wind farm support vessel that, should it ever have a mechanical problem, will not need major surgery to get it back at sea again. The whole vessel has been designed with ease of maintenance in mind. The fine entry displacement hull is also designed for economic operation at all speeds. Propellers, shafts and main engines, are robust and accessible. The 24m vessel is also designed to remain on location at sea for long periods, with sleeping accommodation for 12 passengers in four cabins, galley, showers, w.c. and good storage facilities for personal or work gear. The first of the two vessels that have been ordered by the UK Enviroserve Ltd are built to MCA category 1 and BV classification for wind farm service ships, and will be delivered in early 2013.

Blount Boats Inc • US

Work boat builder Blount Boats Inc. of Rhode Island, have signed agreements with South Boats to be their exclusive builder in the US. They have been building work boats for 62 years, and will be building the South Boats designs in the future with, perhaps, modifications for local conditions for the offshore wind industry in the US. This arrangement will allow South Boats design vessels to work within the regulation of the Jones Act, requiring US content at all levels for vessels working between US ports.

Dick Hill

With thanks to the contributions from all the companies mentioned in the article.