Update: The article was updated on Wednesday, October 10, to include a statement by the crane manufacturer Liebherr.
Offshore wind installation company Seaway 7 said Monday there had been an incident during the construction of its Alfa Lift offshore wind foundation installation vessel, currently being built in China at China Merchants Heavy Industry (CMHI) shipyard in Jiangsu.
"Today, we have been informed of an incident involving the folding A-frame on the main crane of Alfa Lift, currently under construction in China. No personnel have been injured and the unplanned movement of the folding A-frame is currently being investigated," Seaway 7 said.
"The incident is a matter between the shipyard and crane vendor, and it is too early to indicate if this will have an impact on the delivery schedule of the vessel," said the company, created recently through a merger between Subsea 7's subsidiary Seaway 7 and Offshore Heavy Transport (OHT). No further details were shared.
OHT, now part of Seaway 7, ordered the Alfa Lift vessel, capable of installing XXL wind turbine foundations, on speculation in 2018, and has since secured contracts to install foundations at the world's largest wind farm - the Dogger Bank in the UK. Alfa Lift render Credit: Liebherr (File Image)
According to available information, the A-frame mentioned by Seaway 7 in the incident report has been supplied by Liebherr. Liebherr is also responsible for the delivery of the HLC 150000 main crane.
Per Liebherr's earlier statements, the HLC 150000 crane is optimized for future wind park installations with a maximum lifting capacity of 3,000 tonnes at 30 meters and 1,000 tonnes at 76 meters outreach, and its foldable A-frame reduces the height of the crane as needed.
Before the OHT/Seaway 7 merger completion, some three weeks ago, OHT said in a social media post that the installation of the Liebherr HLC150000 crane had been completed at CMHI and the installation of the monopile cradles had started in preparation for its first project.
Offshore Engineer has reached out to Liebherr, seeking more info on the circumstances behind the incident.
A Liebherr spokesperson responded Wednesday: "We can confirm that during the installation of an offshore crane at a shipyard in Jiangsu (China) an incident with the crane’s A-frame occurred. Investigations into the exact circumstances and causes of the incident are currently underway. We can confirm that no one was injured. A team of Liebherr engineers is on site. Our colleagues are in close contact with all persons involved and are supporting the investigation."
Prior to the incident, Alfa Lift was expected to start operating in the North Sea at the Dogger Bank in 2022. The first project is the installation of wind turbine foundations at Dogger Bank A, about 130 kilometers off the northeast coast of England. After this, the company will also install foundations at Dogger Bank B. The partners in the first two Dogger Bank phases are SSE, Equinor, and Eni.
To remind, back in May 2020, an incident happened at Liebherr's yard in Rostock, Germany, when a giant crane collapsed on Deme Offshore's flagship offshore vessel Orion, during crane load tests.
The incident made the vessel unusable for the planned Moray East offshore wind installation project in the UK, forcing DEME Offshore to deploy the replacement vessel ‘Scylla’ for the offshore jacket installation.