Biden Attends Steel Cutting for Great Lakes' Subsea Rock Installation Vessel

From left to right: Lasse Petterson, CEO of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock; Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa.; President Joe Biden; and Steinar Nerbovik, CEO of Philadelphia Shipyard (Photo: Philly Shipyard)
From left to right: Lasse Petterson, CEO of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock; Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa.; President Joe Biden; and Steinar Nerbovik, CEO of Philadelphia Shipyard (Photo: Philly Shipyard)

President Joe Biden traveled to Philadelphia on Thursday to attend a steel cutting ceremony for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation's new offshore wind rock placement vessel, touting his administration’s clean energy agenda and job creation efforts as the U.S. builds up its offshore wind industry. 

"The clean energy future we’re building all across America will be transformational,” Biden said during the ceremony at Philly Shipyard. “Thousands of families will rely on good jobs these projects create, restoring a sense of pride, a sense of hope, a sense of dignity that got lost somewhere along the way."

In 2021, the Biden administration announced a goal of 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030 and provided $3 billion in federal loan guarantees for offshore wind projects. The administration has put a focus on expanding offshore wind jobs and local economic development across the country.

"A lot of my friends in organized labor know when I think climate, I think jobs. I think union jobs," Biden said.

The President also voiced support for the Jones Act and efforts to strengthen American supply chains. 

"Some folks may not know there is a law in 1920 called the Jones Act that was passed. It says ships traveling between U.S. ports have to be American built, American owned, have American crews. But there's some content to rely on ships built overseas without American crews to operate them. Again, not on my watch. There's strength in American shipbuilding. Supporting good union jobs and bringing offshore wind supply chains back home," President Biden said.

"Our Investing in America agenda is bringing our clean energy supply chains home. Since I took office, we’ve seen more than $16 billion in new offshore wind investments, including 18 offshore wind vessels, 12 manufacturing facilities and 13 ports. Today, we announced the first-ever offshore wind sale in the Gulf of Mexico. . . Across the Delaware River in Paulsboro, New Jersey, workers are welding the steel foundation for another large-scale wind project. . . A project off the coast of New York will use a vessel built in the shipyards of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida and rely on an electrical substation engineered in Kansas and made in Texas. The Inflation Reduction Act offers tax credits for projects using American-made iron, steel—manufactured products so our clean energy future will be made in America.

"All this investment means good-paying jobs here at home."

Ordered in November 2021, Great Lakes' new Jones Act-compliant subsea rock installation vessel (SRIV) Acadia will be the first of its kind in the U.S., designed by naval architecture firm Ulstein to carry up to 20,000 metric tons of rock for transport and strategic placement on the ocean bottom as a foundation for the offshore wind turbine monopiles. The ABS-classed ship will be 461 feet long with a breadth of 112 feet and crew accommodations for 45 people.

Great Lakes’ president and CEO, Lasse Petterson said, “We are pleased to get construction started as Great Lakes has already won contracts for this Jones Act compliant vessel.”

Scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2024, the vessel is booked to work with offshore services firm Van Oord to perform the subsea rock installation work for Equinor and bp's Empire Wind I and II wind farms off the U.S. East Coast.

“With our investment into offshore wind, we are also helping achieve the administration’s goal of creating American jobs in this new power generation market,” Petterson said. “The Acadia will provide employment for U.S. union crews including at the steel mills producing the steel for the vessel, at the quarries producing the rock, at the ports and facilities loading our vessel, and the marine crews operating the vessel. This market will continue to grow, and we are pleased to be one of the leaders in the U.S. maritime industry investing in offshore wind.”

“Today is a monumental day in the history of Philly Shipyard,” said Steinar Nerbovik, Philly Shipyard president and CEO. “Over the past several years, we have made a conscious effort to pivot toward a more diversified order backlog. Philly Shipyard is proud to contribute to the delivery of a vessel which will be essential in achieving the nation’s offshore wind targets.”

The steel cutting event was also attended by Pennsylvania’s Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, as well as offshore wind developers, union representatives, industry manufacturers, vessel owners, contractors and aligned vendors.

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