St. Johns Ship Building in Florida hosted a keel laying ceremony for the first Incat Crowther 30 Crew Transport Vessel (CTV) built in the United States in compliance with the Jones Act.
The keel laying comes only about a month after it was announced that Americraft Marine, a maritime subsidiary of the Libra Group, acquired the shipyard, seeing the need for Jones Act-compliant vessels to support the nascent U.S. offshore wind sector.
The announcement of the acquisition came just a few days before the U.S. Maritime Administration designated offshore wind vessels as “Vessels of National Interest,” a designation meant to catalyze more offshore wind vessel construction and prioritizes project applications for review and funding through the Title XI Federal Ship Financing Program (Title XI).
Representatives from the shipowner, Windea, a partnership of Hornblower Wind and MidOcean Wind, participated in the event. The vessel is the first in a series of vessels under construction at St. Johns for Windea that will enter service at the Vineyard Wind I construction project near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
“This ceremony is a very proud moment for Americraft Marine, as it represents the first keel laying ceremony at St. Johns Ship Building under our ownership and is the culmination of a lot of hard work from the outstanding team at St. Johns,” said Ed Sheets, executive vice president and director of business strategy for Americraft Marine Group. “We could not be happier to have Hornblower and their partners return to St. Johns Ship Building to build the vessels that will help America move closer towards energy independence and a cleaner, healthier environment for generations to come.”
The construction of the Incat-designed vessels also signals the official launch of St. Johns Ship Building’s new focus on dedicated high-speed aluminum vessel production. The Incat 30 is a 30-meter crew transport vehicle with a max speed of 29 knots and made of marine-grade aluminum.
The groundwork for constructing the vessels was laid more than two years ago with facility modifications and the acquisition of new production equipment such as the installation of a computer numerical control (CNC) router for processing of non-ferrous metals and composite materials.
“The employees at St. Johns Ship Building continue to work hard to augment our well-equipped facility to support a diversified product line, which already includes several steel and aluminum projects,” said Jeff Bukoski, president of St. Johns Ship Building. “Our efforts are reinforcing the industrial strength of U.S. shipbuilding, and we remain prepared to construct and repair almost all of the various vessel types that will be required to support the future of this country’s offshore wind development needs.”
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