Southampton-based Williams Shipping has started transporting MHI Vestas' 82-metre-long offshore wind turbine blades built at the Isle of Wight factory in the UK.
According to Williams Shipping, a special design of blade transport barges was created since the blades cannot be transported by road and are instead transported by barge from the Isle of Wight to the painting facility in Fawley and then to international docks for shipping overseas.
The 76-meter-long barges are self-powered and capable of working in the shallow waters around the Solent, with an unloaded draught of 0.65m and a loaded draft of 0.75m, the company said.
Besides managing the operation of the vessels, Williams Shipping will be managing the stevedoring with cranes installed at local sites on the Isle of Wight, Fawley and Portsmouth Docks. The company said it has positioned cranes and site offices at each site to manage the stevedoring.
Williams Shipping won the contract in early 2018, while the blade transport barge was delivered to the company's marine base at the Southampton Dock at the beginning of April.
Philip Williams, Director of Marine at Williams Shipping, said: “We’re really pleased to get started on this contract. We have spent some time getting all the equipment and people set up and the arrival of the blade barges was the final stage. MHI Vestas’ ongoing investment has been great for the area and we are glad we can play a part in building the wind energy industry on the south coast.”
In November 2017, MHI Vestas announced it will repurpose part of a decommissioned power plant in Fawley into a painting and logistics facility for the blades, which are used for the V164 offshore wind turbines with a nameplate capacity of up to 9.5MW.
The blades have been manufactured at the Isle of Wight factory since 2015, with serial production commencing last year. The facility is expected to produce around 150 blades yearly, according to MHI Vestas.
Images: Williams Shipping