Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO), Ørsted and Eversource have executed a long-term charter agreement for the provision of the first-ever U.S. flagged "Jones Act" compliant Service Operations Vessel (SOV).
The SOV will be engineered, constructed and operated by ECO as an integral part of the operation and maintenance of the Revolution Wind, South Fork Wind and Sunrise Wind offshore wind farms in the northeast United States, which are dependent on obtaining the necessary federal permits from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
The SOV will be utilized during the operation and maintenance (O&M) phases of the wind farm projects, serving as an at sea base of operations to accommodate and transfer technicians, tools and parts safely to and from the individual Wind Turbine Generators. This vessel is a special-purpose design with focus on passenger comfort and safety, enhanced maneuverability and ship motions, extended offshore endurance and reduced emissions.
The vessel will be built at a combination of Edison Chouest's shipyards in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, creating well over 300 new construction jobs. The construction of this vessel will also have a broader economic impact on other U.S. states hosting suppliers of major components, with some notable beneficiaries being North Carolina and Illinois for steel and main engines, respectively. While the offshore wind industry is relatively new to the United States, states in the Gulf of Mexico region, who have a long history in offshore related industries, stand to immediately gain from the high transferability of existing jobs over to offshore wind. In addition to jobs created in Louisiana, the vessel will operate from New York once in operation.
"The offshore wind energy industry is generally well developed and understood, particularly in Europe where an enormous industry has developed over decades, but this industry is in an initial stage in the United States. There is an unprecedented opportunity, with twelve offshore wind projects planned, an additional ten offshore wind leases signed, and another six wind leases awaiting award. In aggregate, there is a pipeline of well over 25 thousand megawatts of power to be produced by over 1,700 wind turbines, across thirteen states, and in various stages of development that will require an incredible array of vessels, resources, knowledge, and capital commitment to install, operate, and repair," says Mr. Gary Chouest, President of Edison Chouest Offshore. "We're unique in the U.S. offshore marine vessel industry with our own in-house engineering group, our own shipyards, and a wealth of expertise in the offshore industry putting us in a dominant position in the industry with the unique capability to engineer, construct and operate specialized vessels for this market."
The vessel will be over 260 feet long and capable of housing 60 passengers. Crew will enjoy access to passenger staterooms with private bathrooms, an exercise room, cinema/training room, internet café and multiple lounges. The SOV will include a below deck warehouse to palletize storage for wind farm tools, components and supplies with step-less access to an elevator. A Daughter Craft, with associated Launch and Recovery System and hydraulic height-compensating landing platform, will also be installed for infield turbine repair operations. In keeping with the environmental goals of the offshore wind industry, this vessel will operate on diesel electric power that meets EPA Tier 4 emission standards and will feature proprietary ECO Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"This is an incredible moment for the American offshore wind industry," said Thomas BrostrØm, CEO of Ørsted North America, Offshore. "It is hard to state what this moment means for this new, multi- billion-dollar industry. The SOV is not only a crucial part of our plans to build out and operate our Northeast Wind Farms, but it represents just how far reaching the economic impacts of offshore wind can be; offshore wind means massive investments for U.S. companies and jobs for American workers, even those in states without active projects."
"Today's news represents a key moment in the advancement of the offshore wind industry in the United States," said Joe Nolan, Executive Vice President at Eversource Energy. "Not only is this new vessel a critical component of our plans to build and develop the next generation of clean energy in our country, it's a testament to how far the industry has come in such a short time and what we can achieve moving forward. This new state of the art vessel will help us deliver on the promise of creating jobs, driving economic growth, and combating climate change and will play a key role in our efforts to support states in meeting their commitment to decarbonization."
"The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) is thrilled that Ørsted and Eversource are investing in U.S. vessels," said Aaron Smith, President of OMSA. "This is proof that the offshore wind will be an economic driver for the U.S. maritime industry and the U.S. maritime industry is fully capable of satisfying the needs of the offshore wind."