Jones Act shipbuilder St. Johns Ship Building has started construction on the first vessel in a series of crew transfer vessels for Rhode Island-based Atlantic Wind Transfers (AWT).
AWT placed the order back in August for six Jones Act-compliant, 24-meter aluminum catamarans that will service domestic offshore wind projects during construction, operations, and maintenance phases. The order followed the June acquisition of St. Johns Ship Building, which is located in with Palatka, Florida outside Jacksonville, by Americraft Marine, a maritime subsidiary of the Libra Group.
A keel laying ceremony for the first vessel was held on September 8.
The “Chartwell Ambitious-class” vessels, designed by UK-based Chartwell Marine, will be the first U.S.-built CTVs to be compliant with US Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent Tier 4 regulations for emissions. The vessels will be certified under U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter L regulations for to offshore supply vessels and able to operate at any wind farm under the safety and inspection standards of the USCG.
“We are proud to be chosen as part of Atlantic Wind Transfers successful CTV operation. St. Johns Ship Building appreciates the trust and confidence that Charlie Donadio, President and Founder of AWT, and his team have placed in our hardworking and dedicated employees,” said Jeff Bukoski, President of St. Johns Ship Building. “We will also continue to make improvements to our facilities that allow us to construct greater numbers of similar, newbuild vessels.”
AWT currently operates the only two crew transfer vessels in the U.S. under long-term contracts, servicing the Block Island Wind Farm for Orsted and Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Farm (CVOW) for Dominion Energy.
“Our team is excited to be moving forward building with St. Johns, this collaborative design-build strategy will enable AWT to parlay its experience to provide future charter clients with the most reliable multi-purpose crew transfer vessels in the U.S. in the years to come,” said Charles A. Donadio Jr., Founder of AWT.
St. Johns Shipyard has historically performed a variety of new construction and repair work for steel and aluminum vessels in the Jones Act market, including ferries, tugs, deck and tank barges, landing crafts, and general cargo vessels. But going forward its new owners are turning their focus to the U.S. renewables sector, most notably wind, where significant shipbuilding capacity will be needed to support furture demand.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Maritime Administration (MARAD) earlier this year designated offshore wind vessels as “Vessels of National Interest”, a designation that is meant to catalyze more offshore wind vessel construction and prioritize project applications for review and funding through the Title XI Federal Ship Financing Program (Title XI). The designation is expected to increase industry interest in the construction of wind vessels at U.S. shipyards.
The Ambitious-class is Chartwell’s flagship CTV design with capacity to transport 24 personnel to and from turbines with speed, safety, and stability.
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