Deepwater Wind Selects Local Firm For Crew Transfer

R.I. ferry company awarded 20-year deal to operate nation’s first offshore wind service vessel

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Rhode Island Fast Ferry recently signed a 20-year contract with Deepwater Wind for the transfer of maintenance and service crews at the Block Island wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island.

This long-term charter services agreement is the first deal of its kind to be signed in the U.S. and marks another significant milestone in the successful development and deployment of U.S. offshore wind. Expectations within the North American offshore wind market have escalated in recent months and this exclusive first charter services deal provides further tangible proof of the benefits and commercial potential that the wind sector can deliver.

The agreement enables the high-speed catamaran ferry company to commission the first U.S.-built crew transfer vessel to be built by Blount Boats and to launch Atlantic Wind Transfers—its commercial wind support services division.

“We are very excited to be a part of this offshore wind farm project and to work with Deepwater Wind,” said Charles A. Donadio, Jr., president of Rhode Island Fast Ferry. “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.”

As part of the charter agreement with Deepwater Wind Block Island, LLC, a subsidiary of Deepwater Wind, Rhode Island Fast Ferry will build a dedicated wind turbine transfer vessel and develop an extensive training program for its transfer services crew. 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 will secure employment for 70 workers throughout the 12-month build.  

“We are honored to be chosen to build the first U.S.-flagged wind farm vessel in the United States,” said Marcia Blount, president of Blount Boats. “The vessel is designed specifically for turbine transfer service. We enthusiastically joined an all Rhode Island team of wind farm, operator, and boat builder.”

As Rhode Island Fast Ferry’s subsidiary brand, Atlantic Wind Transfers will provide crew and equipment support during the construction phase of the Block Island Wind Farm beginning in Spring 2016. Following completion of the 30MW five-turbine site, work will move into operations and maintenance support to encompass a scheduled maintenance program as well as any additional crew transfer support required throughout the 20-year lifecycle of the first U.S. offshore wind farm project.

Thanks in part to the long-term nature of the charter agreement and the strong working relationship that has already been built between Deepwater Wind and Rhode Island Fast Ferry, this deal will create long-term, local Rhode Island jobs. Each workboat that is chartered to an offshore wind farm typically requires a crew of five to six full-time, skilled employees working year round.  

Rhode Island Fast Ferry was awarded the inaugural charter agreement thanks in part to its offshore operating experience, its impeccable safety record, and its catamaran water jet experience.  In addition, the firm’s established location and dockage facility at Quonset Point will provide Atlantic Wind Transfers and Deepwater Wind quick and convenient access to the Block Island Wind Farm site using the new crew transfer vessel.

“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,” said 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.”

“I’m delighted to support Deepwater Wind’s efforts throughout the wind farm’s offshore construction and operation and to demonstrate our own personal commitment to the offshore wind sector through the launch of our subsidiary brand, Atlantic Wind Transfers,” Donadio said.

An official keel laying ceremony at Blount Boats in Rhode Island, where the workboat will be officially inaugurated is planned for later this summer.  

— Source: Rhode Island Fast Ferry