Multi-role vessel Ocean Researcher, part of Gardline Marine Sciences’ fleet, has arrived at the Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford, Massachusetts, ahead of a planned geophysical survey in an area south of Martha’s Vineyard leased by DONG Energy for its Bay State Wind offshore wind farm.
The survey is expected to last for 35 days, Bay State Wind said in a notice to mariners issued in July. The survey team has started mobilization activities with a meeting aboard the vessel.
Ocean Researcher is scheduled to start the survey on 17 August, Malgorzata Zorawinska, DONG Energy’s Site Investigation Project Manager, said.
Bay State Wind is a utility scale offshore wind farm, located 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, with water depths of between 130 – 165 feet. If given approval, DONG plans to build an offshore wind farm which could have an installed capacity of up to 1,000MW.
In May 2015, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) awarded a lease for area OCS-A 0500, in the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area (WEA), to DONG Energy.
The exploratory geophysical survey will gather data on seabed conditions within the lease area OCS-A 0500. This information will help to identify potential locations for future siting of wind turbines. The future wind farm will be smaller than the survey area, but sited somewhere within its boundaries. The ideal location has yet to be identified.
Ocean Researcher may venture outside of the survey area and may require a turning radius up to 2nm to complete transects.
The survey vessel will tow sensors through the water column, above the seabed. The sensors will include multi-beam and side scan sonars, magnetometer, and high and medium frequency sub-bottom profilers. In addition to the above, grab samples of seabed will be taken at select locations, each sample about 0.1 cubic yard.
Comprising 187,523 acres (222 sq nm), the lease area is the western-most portion of the Massachusetts WEA, beginning approximately 12 miles due south of Martha’s Vineyard.
For the next three years, DONG Energy will collect data and perform assessments of the physical, biological and economic characteristics of the lease area. The geophysical survey is the first step of data collection.