Blount to build first U.S. wind farm service vessel


“We wanted to position ourselves for when it happened,” Blount said from her office at Blount Boats in Warren, R.I. “We have a certain, niche type of vessel — 50′ to 200′, aluminum and steel, shallow draft. As we looked across the potential, this type of vessel fit our yard perfectly.”

Blount Boats has landed a contract with Rhode Island Fast Ferry for the construction of a 21-meter (69’×24’×8’10”) crew transfer vessel (CTV) for Deepwater Wind, to serve the first U.S. ocean wind farm of five turbines to be built off Block Island. With contractors already building foundations for the turbines, the boat is scheduled for delivery on April 1, 2016.

“They’re very specialized boats. You can’t just put a square bow on a crewboat,” Blount said. Blount Boats began exploring the European market in earnest in 2011, going to trade shows and consulting with European turbine builders like Siemens and boatbuilders serving the industry.“It was really the turbine manufacturers’ call” on the best boat designs for delivering crew to the monolithic wind towers, based on experiences in the challenging North Sea, Blount said.

The Blount team was most impressed with South Boats IOW, on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. South Boats was an early supplier to the European offshore wind industry and has the largest market share with about 85 CTVs delivered.“It’s a superb boat. The design has evolved with the industry,” Blount said.

Cargo capacity will be 12 tons of cargo in the bow and three tons in the stern, with decks outfitted with cargo lashing and container sockets. The bow area will feature a Palfinger PK 6500 Mknuckle-boom crane.

In 2011 Blount signed a licensing agreement with South Boats to become the exclusive manufacturer for a U.S. version of the 21-meter all-aluminum design. Blount foresees plenty of market potential. The company is in contact with other wind power developers, and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is opening new offshore lease areas. 

“So we’re positioned to take advantage of that,” Blount said. 

Tankage will include 2,250 gals. of fuel oil and 130 gals. fresh water.

Mainpropulsion will come from two 1,400-hp MAN V12-1400 engines linked to ZF Marine 3050 gears and HamiltonJet HM571 waterjets. Top speed is expected to exceed 28 knots. Cruising speed at 80% throttle will be an estimated 27 knots and the CTV should hit 23 knots loaded.

Up at the bow, a boarding platform lets offshore workers get from the boat into the turbine tower with a special Manuplas fendering system like those used in Europe. This permits workers to safely get on and off in wave heights up to 5′.

The interior of the deckhouse will have a head, a small galley area with settee seating, 12 suspension seats, storage lockers, entertainment system, Wi-Fi, and sound absorbing decking. The steering system and control will be from HamiltonJet.

The entire deckhouse is isolated from the hull with vibration mounts for a quieter and smoother ride to and from the work site.

Ship’s service power will come from a single Cummins Onan genset.

The CTV will be dual certified to USCG Subchapter T specifications to carry up to 49 passengers and Subchapter L (Offshore Supply Vessel) regulations to carry up to 16 offshore workers.— Kirk Moore


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