U.S.-based Crowley and Danish shipping company ESVAGT are teaming up to build and operate purpose-built, Jones Act vessels to support the emerging U.S. offshore wind energy market.
As the U.S. offshore wind industry continues to gain momentum at pace, a large number of Jones Act compliant vessels will be needed to build, service and eventually decommission America's significant pipeline of to-be-developed offshore wind farms. The joint venture (JV) between Crowley and ESVAGT announced Tuesday brings together two leading maritime solutions providers to help address the current vessel shortage. The partners will design and operate wind-dedicated, U.S.-flag service operation vessels (SOV), used during the operation and maintenance (O&M) phases of wind farm projects, serving as an at-sea base of operations to accommodate and transfer technicians, tools and equipment to and from the individual turbines.
Long-serving U.S. maritime player Crowley will own and operate the vessels crewed by U.S. mariners, while European SOV operator ESVAGT will provide technical advice on the design, construction and operation of these vessels based on past experience with this specific vessel type. Both Crowley and ESVAGT will share in the economics.
For Crowley, which earlier this year announced the formation of its New Energy division to support emerging energy sectors in the U.S. and adjacent regions, the JV advances its strategy to become a total lifecycle service provider for the burgeoning U.S. offshore wind sector. In addition to the industry-specific SOVs, Crowley plans to be active in the transportation of turbines during wind farm construction as well as shoreside terminaling and supply chain services from construction through decommissioning.
“This partnership will marry Crowley’s transferable engineering, vessel operations, project management and logistics experience in the U.S. offshore markets to ESVAGT’s global SOV design and operations capabilities. This will enable the continued growth of sustainable, greener energy solutions by directly addressing the offshore wind service capacity challenge,” said Tom Crowley, Crowley chairman and CEO.
Jeff Andreini, VP of Crowley's New Energy division, said the company's engineers have been hard at work developing designs for vessels to support the growing market, from newbuild crew transfer vessels (CTV) to barge conversions for nearshore cable laying and even articulated tug barge (ATB) solutions for turbine feeder services.
Andreini said Crowley's partnership with ESVAGT legitimizes the promise of a nascent industry: "When a company like Crowley makes that level of investment along with the number one SOV provider in Europe, [it demonstrates] that offshore wind is here, and it's here to stay."
The JV is also of strategic importance to ESVAGT, which helped to pioneer the SOV concept in Europe more than a decade ago and today transfers ore than 115,000 personnel members from SOVs to offshore wind farm installations annually, as its partnership with Crowley will mark the company's entry to the U.S. market.
"ESVAGT looks forward to further cementing its position as an offshore wind market leader by entering the U.S. offshore wind market with Crowley, a strong partner with an established track record of delivering solutions to its customers," said ESVAGT CEO, Peter Lytzen. "ESVAGT’s experience in Europe will help deliver a seamless operation in the United States, and we also appreciate the opportunity to invest in the construction of these vessels in compliance with the Jones Act."