American Offshore Services (A-O-S), Blount Boats, Ørsted, and Eversource recently celebrated the official launch of the 101' Gripper, the latest crew transfer vessel (CTV) built to serve America’s fast-growing offshore wind sector.

Built by Blount Boats, Warren, R.I., and owned and operated by A-O-S, Gripper is a Jones Act-compliant aluminum catamaran built to support Ørsted and Eversource’s growing portfolio of offshore wind farms in the Northeast U.S. The Rhode Island-made, Rhode Island-crewed ship will be berthed at Ørsted’s operations hub at Quonset Point and will transport wind service technicians safely to projects at sea.

Gripper is the first crew transfer vessel built to service Ørsted and Eversource’s 704-megawatt Revolution Wind project, Rhode Island’s first large-scale offshore wind farm. It will also support the South Fork Wind and Sunrise Wind projects in New York.

The new boat is one of five new CTVs that have been completed or are currently being built in Rhode Island for Ørsted and Eversource, and the first of two that will be owned and operated by A-O-S and built at Blount Boats.  

Together, the chartering of these vessels will create approximately 80 local construction jobs and 48 ongoing maintenance jobs. Local companies also provided vessel components, including electronics, engines, cranes, aluminum, safety equipment, and more. No manufacturers or specific equipment names were released.

“Building on more than a decade’s worth of success, Rhode Island is continuing to create jobs and drive innovation in the offshore wind sector and prove itself as a national leader in America’s rapidly growing blue economy,” Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said in his remarks. “We are proud that A-O-S, Orsted and Eversource placed their trust in our talented workforce to build and crew this highly specialized vessel and congratulate all involved in making today’s celebration possible.”

"Rhode Island's ports are critical economic and logistical assets. They help attract business, create jobs, and yield economic dividends for the state," said U.S. Sen. Jack Reed. “Today, we celebrate the Ocean State’s critical contribution of U.S. shipbuilding in the growing offshore wind industry. I'm proud to have delivered millions of dollars in federal funding to boost port infrastructure and spur private investment in our ports as Rhode Island continues to be a leader in offshore wind. I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue supporting this critical sector."

“Congratulations to Blount Boats, A-O-S, Ørsted, and Eversource for today’s successful launch of Gripper — a Rhode Island-made, Rhode Island-crewed vessel built to support Rhode Island’s leadership in the growing offshore wind industry,” said U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. “The Ocean State’s burgeoning blue economy and world-class shipbuilding tradition are two of our top competitive advantages, and I will continue supporting these drivers of economic growth.”

“Rhode Island is a national leader in offshore wind, which can lower energy costs, create good-paying jobs, and strengthen American energy independence,” said U.S. Rep. Seth Magaziner. “This new Rhode Island-made, Rhode Island-operated offshore wind crew transfer vessel will help our state transition to an affordable, clean energy economy.”

“Positioned at the forefront of America’s clean energy revolution, Rhode Island remains a global leader in developing new technology, creating good paying jobs, and fighting the climate crisis,” said U.S. Congressman Gabe Amo. “Modernizing our shipbuilding is just another feather in our cap to show our state’s leadership in growing the blue economy and contributing to the revitalization of domestic manufacturing across our nation. I am eager to continue to work with my colleagues in Congress, those across the state, and the private sector the ensure we have robust support for our offshore wind industry.”

“Shipbuilding has long been a cornerstone of our state’s economy, helping drive growth and innovation,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Liz Tanner. We recognize the pivotal role this industry plays in our local economy and, together with offshore wind, will continue to foster an environment full of good-paying, quality jobs that will lead to a more vibrant and sustainable economy for generations to come.”

“As America’s offshore wind industry scales up, we need U.S.-flagged vessels that can quickly and safely transport our wind technicians to project sites offshore,” said Patricia DiOrio, SVP, head of offshore project development Americas for Ørsted. “We welcome Gripper and its well-trained, Rhode Island-based crew into service, and we look forward to continuing to work alongside our local partners to advance our mission of providing clean, reliable power in Rhode Island and beyond while driving local job creation and investment.”  

“Today’s celebration is a representation of the power the offshore wind industry has to create jobs, drive innovation and enhance the clean energy supply chain both here in Rhode Island and across the country,” said Michael Auseré, vice president of business development for Eversource Energy. “As our Northeast projects continue to progress, we are fortunate to have trusted, deeply experienced partners like A-O-S and Blount Boats on our team.”  

Gripper is owned and operated by A-O-S, a partnership between Swedish CTV operator Northern Offshore Group (N-O-G) and U.S.-based investment firm OIC. A-O-S is basing its U.S. operations out of the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in downtown Providence, R.I.

“At N-O-G we always strive to be the best at what we do, every day. We are very proud of A-O-S and the partnerships we have created throughout Rhode Island and the fast-growing offshore wind market. With CTVs like Gripper and our dedicated crew, we are honored to provide A-O-S designed, highly specialized vessels together with our experienced, trained crew colleagues, to the Rhode Island offshore wind market,” said David Kristensson, group CEO of A-O-S parent company Northern Offshore Group. “As America’s offshore wind industry evolves, we look forward to be a frontrunner in innovation and sustainability and continuing to play our crucial role in the construction and maintenance of offshore wind farms, both here in Rhode Island and across the Northeast region.”  

“We’re proud to have spent decades at the center of Rhode Island’s illustrious shipbuilding sector, and Gripper represents the next chapter in this legacy,” said Marcia Blount, president of Blount Boats. “This locally made, locally crewed ship will support our state’s growing offshore wind sector — and the rewarding and well-paid careers that come with it — for decades to come.”