The United States’ ambitious plans to develop the offshore wind sector over the next two decades are also helping to create new opportunities in the shipbuilding and shipping sectors to support the installation and maintenance of the offshore wind farms. The latest entrant is an American company called Green Shipping Line that is teaming with the Dutch engineering firm DEKC Maritime to develop Jones Act compliant feeder vessels to support the development of offshore wind installations.
The FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains language that applies federal offshore energy regulations (and the Jones Act) to offshore wind farms. It ensures that offshore wind farms count as U.S. points for purposes of federal law, just like offshore oil and gas facilities. While it had been anticipated, the language in the act provided certainty that foreign-flag vessels cannot be used to carry goods between U.S. ports and wind projects on the U.S. outer continental shelf.
Application of the Jones Act created the need for a new class of American flag ships to service the industry. Several companies are proceeding with efforts to build vessels that will be used for elements of the installations.
Green Shipping plans to develop a versatile, multi-purpose feeder vessel that can be used throughout the life cycle of an offshore wind installation. Following an extensive study that included examining U.S. and European ports, channels, and quays, and European components, GSL says it identified an existing vessel design that would not require dredging to accommodate U.S. ports or manufacturing needs.
“DEKC's extensive knowledge and capabilities provide GSL with an ideal partner to design our fleet of modern Jones Act feeder vessels, including our flagship Eleanor model,” said Percy R. Pyne IV, founding partner of GSL. “This agreement furthers our ability to provide efficient, proven, green solutions for offshore wind developers and component manufacturers in the U.S.”
DEKC Maritime has designed a multi-purpose vessel known as the “Swiss army knife” vessel of the offshore wind industry in Europe for its versatility and durability. GSL’s multi-purpose cargo vessel, which will be the Eleanor model, adapts the existing design. The design recently received approval in principle from the American Bureau of Shipping.
The 364-ft multipurpose vessel is designed to transport offshore wind components, including towers, nacelles, and blades, from a port to installation sites in a two-day cycle. According to the companies, the efficient design will reduce costs and production time by over 40 percent. The vessel can also be configured to perform rock dumping, scour protection, and offshore accommodation.
The Eleanor model will be available for delivery as soon as mid-2023. The vessel will be built at the Moran Iron Works Shipyard in Onaway Michigan and operated by Keystone Shipping Company. It will be flagged American and manned by an American crew and its dimensions and draft will permit it to operate out of all the regional ports along the United States’ East Coast.
Separately, GSL reports that it has an agreement with Keystone Shipping Company to operate future shuttle vessels in the U.S. offshore wind market and a teaming agreement with Moran Iron Works to construct future vessels.