High-speed catamaran ferry company Rhode Island Fast Ferry has secured a 20-year crew transfer contract for the Block Island Wind Farm. The announcement comes not long after developer Deepwater Wind kicked off the construction phase of its 30 MW offshore wind project, located three miles off the coast of Block Island, R.I.
Rhode Island Fast Ferry says the agreement allows it to commission the first U.S.-built offshore wind crew transfer vessel and launch Atlantic Wind Transfers, the company's commercial wind support services division.
As part of the agreement with Deepwater Wind Block Island LLC, a subsidiary of Deepwater Wind, Rhode Island Fast Ferry will be investing over $4 million to build the vessel and provide training to meet the needs of the Block Island Wind Farm.
The construction of the transfer vessel is being undertaken by local Rhode Island shipyard, Blount Boats, where the contract is expected to secure employment for 70 workers throughout the 12-month build.
"Launching Atlantic Wind Transfers and building the first crew transfer vessel in the Unites States with local company Blount Boats is not only good for the state of Rhode Island, but it will also provide for future growth and enhance the capabilities of our company in the U.S. offshore energy sector," says Charles A. Donadio Jr., president of Rhode Island Fast Ferry.
"We are honored to be chosen to build the first U.S.-flagged wind farm vessel in the United States," adds Marcia Blount, president of Blount Boats. "The vessel is designed specifically for turbine transfer service."
Following completion of the 30 MW project, Rhode Island Fast Ferry says work will move into operations and maintenance support, as well as any additional crew transfer support required throughout the 20-year lifecycle of the project.
"We're excited to partner with two veteran Rhode Island companies that will bring their decades of experience to supporting our Block Island Wind Farm," says Jeffrey Grybowski, Deepwater Wind CEO. "Most importantly, this will mean more jobs in the marine trades for Rhode Islanders and another way that the Ocean State will lead the growth of this new American offshore wind industry."
An official keel laying ceremony at Blount Boats in Rhode Island, where the workboat will be officially inaugurated, is planned for later this summer.
Separately, LM Wind Power has confirmed that will supply 15 of its 73.5-meter blades to the Block Island Wind Farm. According to the blade maker, turbine manufacturer Alstom has received formal notice to proceed with the project, which is slated to showcase five Alstom Haliade 150 6-MW turbines featuring LM blades.
"The rotor set is one of the most influential ways to reduce overall cost of offshore wind energy, and LM Wind Power is proud to be chosen as a critical part of the equation," comments LM Wind Power's Alexis Crama. "Multi-turbine demonstration projects of this nature are crucial to prove the viability of offshore wind in the U.S. and bring the industry one step closer toward utility-scale deployments and manufacturing scale."