Offshore wind Joint venture partners Ørsted and Eversource will charter five new crew transfer vessels from WindServe Marine based in New York City and Massachusetts-based American Offshore Services (AOS), the companies announced Tuesday.
WindServe Marine’s affiliate shipyard, Senesco Marine at Quonset Point in North Kingstown, R.I., will build three of the vessels, and AOS is partnering with Blount Boats & Shipyard, of Warren, R.I. to build two vessels.
The vessels are designed to handle offshore conditions at wind turbine arrays about 15 miles southern New England, transporting technicians and materials between local ports and the project sites of Revolution Wind, South Fork Wind and Sunrise Wind.
Construction is expected to start early this year at Senesco on the 88’ WindServe vessels and at Blount Boats on 101’ AOS vessels. All five vessels will be delivered over the next two years to provide crew transfer support during the construction phases of the Ørsted and Eversource joint venture’s three Northeast projects. The first vessel will be completed by early 2023.
The companies say the newbuild work and chartering operations will create about 80 local construction jobs at Senesco and Blount, and about 48 jobs for captains and crew who will work aboard the vessels, primarily during the wind farms’ construction.
Regional suppliers will provide vessel components, such as electronics, engines, cranes, aluminum, and safety equipment.
Both shipyards were early leaders in building U.S.-flag offshore wind crew transfer vessels. Blount Boats built the country’s first-ever offshore wind crew transfer vessel, the Atlantic Pioneer, which has served Ørsted’s Block Island Wind Farm since that first U.S. commercial offshore wind project began operations in 2016.
Senesco built the WindServe Journey crew transfer vessel, which worked during fall 2020 at the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. Working with Virginia-based Dominion Energy, Ørsted has supported the engineering, procurement and construction of that project, to date the largest planned U.S. array at 2.6 gigawatts design capacity.
“Rhode Island knows offshore wind and we are proud to be delivering even more jobs to the Ocean State’s marine trades to build these new crew vessels,” David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America, said in a joint statement announcing plans for the support fleet. “Our continuing commitment to Rhode Island shipbuilders, together with our selection of first-rate regional vessel operators, is just the latest example of our work to build a domestic supply chain to support the growing offshore wind industry.”
“Rhode Island has a long history of leading in ocean-based industries and has established one of the country’s most innovative and expansive blue economies,” said Joe Nolan, CEO and president of Eversource Energy. “This partnership between two outstanding local shipbuilders and two major vessel operators will be critical as we build and operate our portfolio of Northeast wind farms. Offshore wind is a growing industry with tremendous potential to create jobs and grow the domestic supply chain, and with today’s news, we are proud to once again help turn that promise into a new reality.”
"The AOS newbuild program for Ørsted and Eversource will bring over 40 skilled shipyard jobs to Rhode Island,” said David Kristensson, owner of Northern Offshore Services, a co-owner of AOS. “In addition, this partnership will give dozens of U.S. merchant mariners the opportunity to embark on a new and exciting career path, throughout the Northeast."
“Blount Boats has emerged as a leader in the CTV space having built two of the three U.S. flagged CTVs currently in operation,” said Marcia Blount, president of Blount Boats, Inc. “Blount looks forward to substantially increasing its highly skilled workforce while maintaining its reputation for quality construction during the build of these hybrid ready CTVs, the first vessels in the AOS fleet.”
“WindServe Marine is excited to continue our CTV build program at Senesco Marine to deliver on our long-term commitments to create local jobs and provide high quality vessel operations for the U.S. offshore wind industry,” said Josh Diedrich, managing director at WindServe Marine. “We look forward to expanding our partnership with Ørsted, Eversource, and industry stakeholders to ensure the success of U.S. offshore wind projects.”
“Capable of builds of all sizes, CTVs are one of many vessel types that Senesco Marine builds with the highest of quality and safety standards," said Senesco president Ted Williams. "Senesco will commence local Northeast construction on three CTVs in early 2022 to support the expanding offshore wind industry on the East Coast.”