The cargo is destined for a Massachusetts cranberry bog instead of the waters off Cape Cod, but city and state officials hailed the arrival Monday of the first ship carrying wind turbine parts to New Bedford’s newly renovated South Coast Marine Commerce Terminal.
The terminal is the first facility in the nation designed to support the construction, assembly, and deployment of offshore wind projects, as well as handle bulk, breakbulk, container shipping and large specialty marine cargo.
“What we’re trying to do here is cement New Bedford’s status as the hub of this part of the state,” Mayor Jon Miller said at the city’s Gifford Street boat ramp, as behind him the 408’x69”x30” cargo ship Thorco Svendborg arrived at the terminal, assisted by tugs from McAllister Towing’s Massachusetts operations: David McAllister, Shannon McAllister and Rainbow.
“Port assets are a big part of that,” Mitchell said. Having the terminal positions New Bedford “to become the epicenter of the offshore wind industry in the United States,” he said. The ship carried turbine nacelles and other components from Gamesa, a company based in Spain that manufactures turbine equipment and structures in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
The timing of the delivery by Danish company Thorco Shipping was significant, according to port and labor officials. It was the first “summer ship” in 25 years to bring cargo to a port where freight usually comes in winter for local markets. If the terminal gets active, it would mean more year-round work and employment in the harbor.
Massachusetts taxpayers put out $113 million to redevelop the 28-acre harbor site, known locally as the South Terminal, with a goal of making New Bedford a construction and operational hub for the nascent offshore wind energy industry. The terminal is managed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and its first tenant was to be Cape Wind, the company seeking to build turbines in Nantucket Sound, for a rent of $4.5 million a year.
But after Cape Wind’s two biggest would-be power purchasers backed out of their contracts – citing Cape Wind’s continued legal and political challenges – Cape Wind itself cancelled its deal for the South Terminal.
City leaders saw the Monday docking as a vindication of their terminal redevelopment efforts. Anthony Sapienza, president of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said it’s a first step toward more cargo capability.
“The NBEDC has been proactively working with Mayor Mitchell and a wide range of state and local partners to plan for greater heavy cargo activity in the port today, while preparing for a long-term future in offshore wind energy,” Sapienza said. “The arrival of MV Thorco Svenborg as the first user of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal is a true milestone in that effort.”