Austal, a designer and manufacturer of aluminum vessels, has entered a contract for a fourth wind farm support vessel for Turbine Transfers Ltd. According to Austal, this is the first order for the company's new design, which is intended to enable safer and more efficient offshore wind turbine service.
The new design combines the sea-keeping and fuel-efficiency benefits of Austal's trimaran hull configuration with a small water-plane area at rest in order to deliver low vessel motions both in transit and when alongside turbines, the company explains, adding that this enables wind farm personnel to be successfully transferred in considerably higher sea states than is practical with similar-sized catamarans.
The new vessel is designed to operate in ocean areas of all European countries, including in the demanding conditions of the North, Irish and Baltic Seas. The 27.4-meter-long, 10.5-meter-wide vessel will be able to transfer 12 wind farm technicians and over four metric tons of deck cargo.
Captain Mark Meade, managing director of Turbine Transfers, says the company is using Austal technology to support the next phase of wind farm development, which would see a much larger number of turbines installed farther offshore and in other areas with rougher sea conditions.
"To do that, we need to be able to transfer further, and in larger waves, while still providing the technicians we carry with comfortable transits and safe turbine step-offs," Meade notes.
"To date, most wind farms have been relatively close to the coast, and serviceable with fairly basic boats," adds Austal CEO Andrew Bellamy. "Now, as they move further offshore, there is a need for a second generation of vessels that can address the significant challenges this brings. Being able to transport wind turbine technicians comfortably in the rougher sea conditions over longer distances is the key requirement, and we have produced the solution to that need."
The vessel will initially be chartered to Turbine Transfers for a period of up to five years. It is scheduled for completion in November.