VARD to Build North Star's Dogger Bank SOV Fleet in Vietnam

April 6, 2021

Credit: VARD
Credit: VARD

Norwegian shipbuilder VARD has won contracts to build three Service Operation Vessels (SOVs) for the UK-based North Star Renewables. The vessels, to be built in Vietnam, will operate on the Dogger Bank Wind Farm in the North Sea, the world's largest.

The shipbuilding contract announcement comes three weeks after North Star said it had won a deal worth around $375 million to supply SOVs for the giant wind farm off the UK. The 3.6 GW Dogger Bank wind farm is being built  in three phases in the North Sea by joint venture partners SSE Renewables, Equinor, and Eni (Phases A & B).

North Star will deliver the VARD designed and built SOVs to Dogger Bank wind farm operator Equinor from the summer of 2023 onwards on a ten-year charter, with an option for three one-year extensions.

According to the shipowner's statement in March, North Star will deliver one SOV to be used for scheduled maintenance at Dogger Bank A and B. The vessel is due to be delivered in January 2024 and will also serve Dogger Bank C when this phase of the wind farm is operational.

A further two SOVs will be delivered by North Star to be used for corrective maintenance, at Dogger Bank A and Dogger Bank B. Delivery of these vessels is scheduled for July 2023 and July 2024 respectively.

Each vessel will have dynamic positioning (DP2) capability, with walk-to-work gangways for the safe transfer of personnel and equipment to and from the turbines. Using these gangways means that technicians will be able to transfer safely in wave heights above 3 meters, increasing the productive time on turbines and optimizing wind farm availability.

North Star Renewables CEO Matthew Gordon said: “We’ve worked closely with the team at VARD for over two years on the development of our SOVs for Dogger Bank. I’m delighted to be able to say that the work which went into to designing the vessels to meet the optimal standards of workability, comfort, safety and sustainability has resulted in us securing the award of three vessels on long term charters, which is a huge step for North Star on our journey to becoming a leading player within the SOV market.

"It’s exciting that these designs will now move into the construction phase and continuing that journey with VARD is a natural extension of our strong relationship. We’re confident that we have a high-quality design and build partner that will support us in bringing these advanced new vessels to the market.”

Two of Vard Design concept designers, Thomas Brathaug and Stian Ona, have intimate knowledge of the vessels having spent many man-hours turning specifications into reality, VARD said. Brathaug says one will be of the VARD 4 19 design and the other two of its VARD 4 12 design.


"The VARD 4 19 design has been developed specifically to handle planned maintenance on the Dogger Bank A and B wind arrays. It is tailored for operations in the harsh North Sea environment more than 130 kilometers off the north-east coast of England. Crew well-being is vital to ensure safe and efficient operations, so safety and comfort have been a strong focus throughout the process,” said Brathaug.

Ona says another crucial design driver was sustainability. “The vessel’s environmental footprint and operability, hybrid battery solution and prepared for carbon-neutral operations in the future really pushes the envelope for this kind of specialized vessel,” he said.

According to VARD, a subsidiary of Italy's Fincantieri, another key SOV design element was to ensure efficient logistics.

"All the vessels have a height-adjustable, motion-compensated gangway with elevator system, a height-adjustable boat transfer system, as well as a 3D-compensated crane for cargo transfer,” Brathaug said.

The 85-meter vessel has a beam of 19 meters and will be able to accommodate 78 crew members in single cabins.

Developed to perform corrective maintenance on Dogger Bank, the other VARD 4 12 pair will be 78 meters in length with a beam of 19 meters and accommodation for 60 persons in single cabins.

VARD says that the hybrid vessels will be equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system, highly efficient main propellers, and tunnel thrusters with permanent magnet electric motors in combination with SeaQ solutions supplied by Vard Electro in Norway.

"They will feature a fully integrated SeaQ ESS solution in combination with SeaQ IAS, SeaQ PMS, SeaQ EMS, and SeaQ Green Pilot (energy monitoring system) for improved operational performance and reduced environmental footprint. The set-up makes it possible to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, in addition to enhance responsiveness and safety," VARD said.

The three SOVs are set for handover to North Star in 2023. They will be built at VARD’s Vard Vung Tau shipyard in Vietnam. Various suppliers within the Norwegian maritime cluster are also involved in the project, VARD said-

VARD CEO Alberto Maestrini said: “At VARD, we continuously strive to deliver the best possible solution to our customers. Our dedicated team have had a close cooperation with North Star in developing these innovative ships for the Dogger Bank Wind Farm, and we look forward to continuing that good teamwork in developing future-oriented and environmentally friendly vessels for the renewables market. This market will continue to be one of the main pillars to support VARD’s growth.”

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