Wind farm support vessels: The Operators

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With the unenviable task of selecting the right boat goes the privilege of leading the designers and yards to build the boats they want. While the hulls are built in different materials and with beam and lengths in various dimensions, the engines, propulsion systems and the fittings remain the choice of the buyer. Even then the hulls are not always so similar. The buyers can choose between single hull, the double hull catamaran, and even more, the triple hull trimaran. Offshore WIND has spoken to operators who have chosen some of these hull designs with different fittings.

Workboats Ltd • UK

MPI Workboats Ltd are the proud owners of six purpose built wind farm service catamarans built by South Boats and have a further two 17m vessels on order. The earlier vessels comprise of three 15m, two 17m, and one 20m South Cats. By the time you are reading this article the first of the new builds will have been delivered. The second new build is due in May and will be taken to the Seawork International event before starting work on the Sheringham Shoal wind farm alongside 5 of her older sisters including the April delivered new build. The remaining two vessels are the 20m Don Quixote working on Greater Gabbard and the 15m Rucio working on London Array.

Maritime Craft Services (Clyde) Ltd • UK

MCS have recently ordered 2 of the Damen FCS 2610 and the first MSC Sirocco will be delivered from the Damen Singapore yard in Q1 of 2012. Built to BV classification she will be able to operate throughout Europe with 12 passengers and 10ft container locks on deck for up to 15 tonnes of cargo.

Offshore Wind Services • NL/UK/D

This joint venture between 2 Dutch companies, Royal Doeksen and Workships BV, has 2 South Cats and 2 DNV classed 19m South Cats on order. The new builds will be aimed for the German market. Safety for crew and their passengers rates very highly in their priorities and the new builds will be issued with Safety Management Certificates under the ISM Code to ensure a safe, transparent and quality crew transfer service. The company have recently increased their fleet by acquiring the North Wales support vessel operator, Offshore Wind Power Marine Services Ltd. OWPMS has a fleet of 6 South Cats in the 10m to 15m range. OWS is also forming cooperation agreements with other operators such as Seacat Services Ltd in the UK and a German owner, details of which have not yet been released.

P&O Maritime • IRL

P&O Maritime’s Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) were designed by Incat Crowther and custom-built for the European offshore renewables market. Developed in cooperation with prospective clients, the vessels are designed for both the construction/ installation and O&M phases of offshore wind projects. Initially three 17.5m vessels have been constructed and are now on contract. The company is now in consultation on the design of larger crew transfer vessels. The P&O Maritime fleet can provide construction, research, survey and cable lay and now crew transfer services to the international offshore wind industry.

Tidal Transit Ltd • UK

Having recently taken delivery of Ginny Louise, their GRP, MCA Cat 1, Spanish new build that even incorporates overnight accommodation for 12 technicians and 4 crew, operators Tidal Transit have got her to work on Greater Gabbard for 5 months. The second vessel the Eden Rose, a twin of Ginny Louise, will be launched by the time you are reading this and then heading North to the UK after sea trials. North Norfolk based Tidal Transit holds an option for a further 8 of these elegant and extremely hard working boats that they plan to exercise during 2012/13.

Turbine Transfers Ltd • UK

With the busiest new build program in the industry, Anglesey based Turbine Transfers already have 23 vessels in their current fleet. 22 of them are South Cats ranging in size from 12m to 20m. A 30m catamaran built in 1992 was refitted last year to complete the fleet. On order and delivery expected imminently are a further 9 vessels, including 3 Austal built 21m cats, a 25m Extreme semi-swath vessel and 3 more South Cats, two 19m and one 24m. The delivery date of a 26m Austal TriSwath and a 19m Holyhead Marine vessel, and also more orders are yet to be confirmed. The company is a subsidiary of Holyhead Towing Co. Ltd.

Seacat Services Ltd • UK

Two 19m and four 24m, DNV 1A1 HSLC R2 Windfarm Service 1 classed, South Cats, soon to launch or on order, make up the fleet for Isle of Wight owner Seacat Services. All vessels operate under ISM. The first 2 have contracts with cable company Nexans on the Anholt Offshore Wind Farm. Prior to starting work in Denmark the first of these vessels will attend the Southampton Seawork event.

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Iceni Marine Services Ltd • UK

Great Yarmouth based Iceni Marine now have 5 vessels built by South Boats. The latest is the Iceni Defiant that was handed over in January this year and is followed by an order for a further two 24m vessels from the same yard. The Defiant has a beam of 6.3m and has been specifically built to operate through the locks at Grimsby Fish Docks.

Windcat Workboats • NL/UK

Windcat Workboats launched a new vessel in March from the Windcat Mark 3 type series. Named Windcat 28, she is built according to MCA SCV code category 2, GL class (GL + 100A5 HSDE III Workboat MC Overbar). She is the second Windcat to be GL classified and meets all the German flag state requirements, so is able to work in German and other northern European waters. Contracts for work have been found starting work immediately on the Greater Gabbard Wind Farm before departing for Oostende for the commissioning of Thornton Bank Phase II Offshore Wind Farm in Belgium next month.

Jifmar Turbine Services • France

The French offshore wind industry will have three 28m support vessels ready for support service from Marseille based Jifmar Turbine Services. They will be available for all survey, support and crew transfer work for the French wind industry. The company is a joint venture between Jifmar Offshore Services and Turbine Transfers Ltd.


This is not the first time we have said this and we sincerely believe that it will not be the last: There are no bad designs, or builds, or operators. You, as the decision-making reader of Offshore WIND, must decide what vessels you want to support your wind farm with and who you want to operate them for you. The operator must select the builder and the builder must select the designer.

There is only one disappointment in this chain and that is the lack of unity in regulation. It must be possible for the European Union and Norway, Lloyds, DNV, GL, BV, and any one else involved in classification, certification and regulation to work out a common format. If for no other reason than that it would be cost effective, the industry should work to get this sorted now.

Dick Hill

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