Building on its initial success in the renewable energy market, Austal has confirmed a contract for a fourth wind farm support vessel for Turbine Transfers Limited. The order is the first for a new Austal design that will enable safer and more efficient offshore wind turbine service. Welcoming the follow-up order from the UK-based company, Austal Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bellamy says the shipbuilder had continued to refine and enhance its Wind Express vessel range following its launch in mid 2010 as part of a strategy to pursue new commercial vessel markets. “There is clearly an increasing desire in the industry for vessels with enhanced capability, particularly in terms of performance in rough conditions. This is a challenge that we have already successfully addressed in the ferry and naval markets with our unique trimaran technology. We have now applied that expertise to develop and prove a new hullform that provides a step change in capability for the offshore industry.”
The new design combines the seakeeping and fuel efficiency benefits of Austal’s trimaran hull configuration with a small waterplane area at rest, to deliver low vessel motions both in transit and when alongside turbines. This enables wind farm personnel to be successfully transferred in considerably higher sea states than is practical with catamarans of similar size. “For offshore wind farm industry operators seeking to maximise productivity and safety in rough seas, this new hullform provides the highest possible levels of seakeeping, passenger comfort and fuel efficiency,” Bellamy says.
Managing Director of Turbine Transfers, Captain Mark Meade, said his company was 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. The extensive analysis and tank testing that Austal has done makes me very confident that this new boat will enable us to do that, and provide us with a competitive advantage.”
Bellamy says the new design would improve the viability of offshore wind farms by overcoming the seakeeping limitations of the support vessels currently used in the industry. “To date most wind farms have been relatively close to the coast, and serviceable with fairly basic boats. 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.” Learn more at www.austal.com.