Thrustmaster of Texas, a marine propulsion design and manufacturing company from the U.S., is looking to give an edge to U.S. based marine jack-up operators wanting to enter the national offshore wind farm construction and maintenance sector by cutting the cost of entry in half with a unique propulsion system that allows conversion of existing vessels to dynamically positioned work vessels, the company’s Johnray Strickland writes.
As the country’s offshore wind market is gearing up, current marine construction contracts are being awarded to operators outside the U.S. with a track record of success in European wind farm construction.
Last year, Deepwater Wind awarded a contract to Fred. Olsen Windcarrier Group for the installation of five wind turbines at Block Island Wind Farm in the U.S. The installation will be carried out by a DP-2 class, 430 ft (132 m) jack-up installation vessel Bold Tern designed by Gusto MSC.
The vessel is self-elevating, self-propelled and dynamically positioned with large open deck space and an 800t offshore-rated crane. Bold Tern was granted exemption to the Jones Act since there are no known US-built, owned and crewed vessels available for this type of work.
However, Thrustmaster points out that there is an opportunity for vessel operators to win future contracts by converting their existing jack-up into dedicated wind turbine installation vessels with its patented Portable Dynamic Positioning System.
It includes a modular system of azimuth thrusters, power modules and controls to allow for quick dockside conversion of any work barge or ship into a self-propelled and dynamically positioned vessel without major hull penetrations or costly modifications to existing vessels.
The system is best suited for ships and barges from 100 ft to 600 ft (30 m to 180 m) in length and can be provided per DPS-0 to DPS-3 requirements of any classification society.
The Portable Dynamic Positioning System was recently utilized in Europe for the Wind Pioneer, a 56m x 28m offshore construction jack-up vessel for offshore wind turbine installation and maintenance. The system, which was installed dockside without the need for any major hull modifications, uses four azimuthing thrusters at 750 kW each.