Offshore vessel operator Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) will build and operate the first-ever U.S. flagged Jones Act compliant Service Operations Vessel (SOV), used for offshore wind farm operation and maintenance works.
Edison Chouest Offshore, Ørsted, and Eversource announced Thursday the execution of a long-term charter agreement for the provision of the SOV.
"The SOV will be engineered, constructed and operated by ECO as an integral part of the operation and maintenance of the Revolution Wind, South Fork Wind and Sunrise Wind offshore wind farms in the northeast United States, which are dependent on obtaining the necessary federal permits from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)," the companies said in a statement.
The SOV will be used during the operation and maintenance (O&M) phases of the wind farm projects, serving as an at-sea base of operations to accommodate and transfer technicians, tools, and parts safely to and from the individual Wind Turbine Generators.
The vessel will be built at a combination of Edison Chouest’s shipyards in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, creating well over 300 new construction jobs.
According to wind farm developer Ørsted, the construction of the SOV will also have a broader economic impact on other U.S. states hosting suppliers of major components, with some notable beneficiaries being North Carolina and Illinois for steel and main engines, respectively.
Gulf of Mexico states to gain, too
While the offshore wind industry is relatively new to the United States, Ørsted says that states in the Gulf of Mexico region, who have a long history in offshore-related industries, stand to immediately gain from the high transferability of existing jobs over to offshore wind. In addition to jobs created in Louisiana, the vessel will operate from New York once in operation.
Gary Chouest, President of Edison Chouest Offshore said: "The offshore wind energy industry is generally well developed and understood, particularly in Europe where an enormous industry has developed over decades, but this industry is in an initial stage in the United States.
"There is an unprecedented opportunity, with twelve offshore wind projects planned, an additional ten offshore wind leases signed, and another six wind leases awaiting award. In aggregate, there is a pipeline of well over 25 thousand megawatts of power to be produced by over 1,700 wind turbines, across thirteen states, and in various stages of development that will require an incredible array of vessels, resources, knowledge, and capital commitment to install, operate, and repair,” he said.
"We’re unique in the U.S. offshore marine vessel industry with our own in-house engineering group, our own shipyards, and a wealth of expertise in the offshore industry putting us in a dominant position in the industry with the unique capability to engineer, construct and operate specialized vessels for this market.”
The vessel will be over 260 feet long and capable of housing 60 passengers. It will be equipped with passenger staterooms with private bathrooms, an exercise room, cinema/training room, internet café and multiple lounges.
The SOV will include a below deck warehouse to palletize storage for wind farm tools, components and supplies with step-less access to an elevator.
Furthermore, a Daughter Craft, with associated Launch and Recovery System and hydraulic height-compensating landing platform, will be installed for infield turbine repair operations. The vessel will operate on diesel-electric power that meets EPA Tier 4 emission standards and will feature a proprietary ECO Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"This is an incredible moment for the American offshore wind industry,” said Thomas Brostrøm, CEO of Ørsted North America, Offshore. “It is hard to state what this moment means for this new, multi-billion-dollar industry. The SOV is not only a crucial part of our plans to build out and operate our Northeast Wind Farms, but it represents just how far reaching the economic impacts of offshore wind can be; offshore wind means massive investments for U.S. companies and jobs for American workers, even those in states without active projects.”
Joe Nolan, Executive Vice President at Eversource Energy said: "Today’s news represents a key moment in the advancement of the offshore wind industry in the United States. Not only is this new vessel a critical component of our plans to build and develop the next generation of clean energy in our country, it’s a testament to how far the industry has come in such a short time and what we can achieve moving forward. This new state of the art vessel will help us deliver on the promise of creating jobs, driving economic growth, and combating climate change and will play a key role in our efforts to support states in meeting their commitment to decarbonization.”