President Biden participated in a steel-cutting ceremony at Philly Shipyard Inc. Thursday, marking the construction of the first U.S.-flag subsea rock installation vessel (SRI), on the same day the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it will offer the first Gulf of Mexico offshore wind leases in late August.
The shipyard event centered on the 461'x112' Acadia, which will be the first U.S.-built SRI vessel for offshore wind. The Acadia will have accommodations for 45 people.
The $246 million vessel is being built for the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corp. (GLDD), Oak Brook, Ill., a major player in harbor and beach replenishment work. The Acadia project is GLDD’s move into the offshore wind sector, providing a Jones Act-compliant vessel to lay down rock protection around turbine towers, cable routes and other offshore structures.
“Currently under construction, our SRI vessel will set new standards for efficiency and innovation with its large capacity, accurate placement technology and cutting-edge battery and alternative fuel systems,” according to a description on GLDD's website. “This unique, technologically advanced vessel is an essential step towards building the marine infrastructure required for this new industry, which holds so much promise for our nation economically and environmentally.”
“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 Business Network for Offshore Wind said it’s all part of “$16 billion of investments made during his administration in offshore wind manufacturing, shipbuilding, and ports, noting substantial growth in the supply chain which is now creating jobs in places like Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, and New England.”
Biden’s visit to Philadelphia was aimed at Democratic alliances with labor, a key element to offshore wind power plans by the administration and Northeast and mid-Atlantic state governments.
“The Biden-Harris administration is helping make offshore wind a reality by bringing certainty to the permitting process, making investments in ports and transmission, and incentivizing domestic manufacturing,” said Business Network for Offshore Wind CEO Liz Burdock, who was at the Philly Shipyard event.
Biden announced the final sale notice for Gulf of Mexico lease areas that could potentially support up to 3.7 gigawatts of optimum, nameplate capacity. Long before those leases can take shape, companies on the Gulf coast have already captured 23% of contracts in the U.S. offshore wind market and about $1 billion going to the region’s shipyards and offshore equipment fabricators, according to the Business Network for Offshore Wind.