Chartwell Marine is warning that there is a looming shortage of crew transfer vessels (CTVs) as the European offshore wind market continues to expand with larger and more ambitious projects.
The European CTV fleet is “thinly stretched” as the industry continues to expand, with Round 4 UK projects in build, development starting in France and continuing construction activity in the German North Sea, Chartwell said.
The company notes that 22-24m vessels are particularly in short supply as many reach retirement or require refit after over 10 years in service, which highlights an urgent need for investment in the next generation of offshore wind workboats.
According to Chartwell, prominent CTV operators have highlighted unprecedented levels of fleet occupancy and an imbalance in supply and demand for existing vessels, but the challenge may be traced further back up the supply chain to a shortage of next-generation vessels in design and build.
“Make no mistake, the offshore wind industry has provided a significant fillip to the UK vessel building industry, and that is hugely welcome, but if we’re to effectively harness this growth, and retain the benefits for the UK economy, we need to ensure that we can collectively deliver on the task ahead,” said Andy Page, Managing Director at Chartwell Marine.
“The UK vessel manufacturing industry is contesting with a skills shortage, on top of a full order book. While commitments from Government on decarbonisation are essential, the industry needs to take on some risk in order to fulfill the demands of the next round of offshore wind development.”
Chartwell attributes a further shortage to competing demands for vessels entering new markets, even accounting for the capacity for Asian yards to serve their own offshore wind industry.
While UK shipyards recently saw the impact of a shortfall in new CTV orders, precipitated by a period of low vessel demand between 2016 and 2018, they are now primed to respond to this challenge with agreements in place for pioneering vessel designs.
However, as build slots at these yards are limited, it is important that the industry takes the opportunity to invest now in the next generation of workboats, Chartwell concludes.