We’re getting new details about the United States’ first Jones Act-compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV) seen as critical to developing the nation’s offshore wind industry.
We just learned that the newbuild vessel currently under construction at the Keppel AmFELS shipyard in Brownsville, Texas for Dominion Energy will be built to ABS class . The 472-foot vessel is designed by GustoMSC to handle turbines of 12 megawatt or greater. It will also be capable of the installation of foundations for turbines and other heavy lifts.
UK-based Seajacks will assist Dominion Energy with construction and operations oversight, while Keppel AmFELS is undertaking the engineering and procurement.
Dominion Energy is in the process of developing the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, a 2,600 megawatt commercial offshore wind farm that is set to become the largest in the United States. Part of the project includes a 12MW pilot project, 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, that is expected to become the first in U.S. federal waters.
“Dominion Energy is proud to be leading a consortium of respected industry participants in the construction of the first Jones Act compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel, which will provide significant American jobs, and provide a reliable, home-grown installation solution with the capacity to handle the next generation of large-scale, highly-efficient turbine technologies,” said Mark D. Mitchell, Senior Vice President of Project Construction. “This will better enable the offshore wind industry to bring clean, renewable energy to customers in the U.S.”
The first Jones Act-compliant wind turbine installation vessel, to be named Charybdis, will be the latest for the U.S. offshore wind industry to be supported by ABS. The first U.S flagged Jones Act offshore wind farm service operation vessel (SOV) ever ordered will be built to ABS Class. It has also issued AIPs for two Jones Act SOVs to Vard and for a series of other wind support vessels from European designers.
“ABS is the ideal partner for a highly specialized wind turbine installation vessel such as this for the U.S. market. Our extensive knowledge of U.S. regulations combined with offshore industry leadership means we are uniquely equipped to support this project and a range of other innovative vessels now being commissioned for U.S. wind farms. ABS is committed to playing a significant role in the safe development of the U.S. offshore wind industry,” said Matt Tremblay, ABS Senior Vice President, Global Offshore.
Construction for the vessel got underway back in December with a keel laying ceremony at Keppel AmFELS. The vessel’s hull and infrastructure will utilize more than 14,000 tons of domestic steel, with nearly 10,000 tons sourced from Alabama and West Virginia suppliers. With a hull length of 472 feet, a width of 184 feet and a depth of 38 feet, it will be one of the biggest vessels of its kind in the world. Huisman will fabricate the main crane, which will have a boom length of 426 feet and an expected lifting capacity of 2,200 tons. It will also include accommodations for up to 119 crew and wind farm technicians.
Overall project costs for the vessel are estimated to be about $500 million.
“We are pleased to be able to build the largest wind turbine installation vessel in the U.S. for Dominion Energy and support the growing offshore wind industry,” said Mohamed Sahlan, President of Keppel AmFELS. “Keppel AmFELS has a solid track record and capabilities in a wide range of offshore vessels and we are also able to leverage the experience of our parent company, Keppel Offshore & Marine, in offshore renewables to provide a compelling construction solution for this milestone project.”
Development of the WTIV and others like it are seen as critical for the construction of a growing number of offshore wind projects planned for the U.S. East Coast. A recent amendment to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) affirming that the OCSLA does in fact apply to offshore wind and other renewable energy development, including its application of the Jones Act which requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported on ships that are built, owned and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has since ended long-standing ambiguity over the issue by expressly ruling that Jones Act applies to transportation of merchandise from a U.S. port to a location on the outer continental shelf for the purpose of the development and production of wind energy.
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