North Star’s second hybrid-propulsion service operation vessels (SOVs) are set to be mobilized three months earlier than planned to support SSE Renewables with a new scope of work at the Dogger Bank Wind Farm.
The firm’s first of its new offshore wind fleet, the Grampian Tyne, was blessed in June at an event held at the Dogger Bank O&M base in Port of Tyne. The second SOV, the Grampian Derwent, a larger ship with increased accommodation capacity and helideck, has recently been delivered to North Star in Vietnam.
The new award with SSE Renewables will see the U.K.’s leading infrastructure vessel support firm aiding the construction and commissioning stage at the initial phase of the wind farm’s development, located 130 kilometers off the east Yorkshire coast. This will allow the ships to then dovetail straight into their scheduled long-term charters to carry out operations and maintenance (O&M) related in field vessel activities for the development partners.
The wind farm is a joint venture between SSE Renewables (40%), Equinor (40%) and Vårgrønn (20%), North Star has a proven track record of successfully building multiple vessels simultaneously on time and on budget. The 135-year-old business also has a robust 127 million pound finance package in place to fund its Dogger Bank SOV fleet newbuild program, which will result in four of its hybrid-electric ships being operational in field by 2026, each on a 10-year minimum term charter agreement.
“Winning this new scope of work at Dogger Bank — our first in construction and commissioning — is part of our focus to be a true value add service partner,” said Michael Gordon, North Star commercial director. “We are extremely proud to be recognized as a dependable operator delivering these vessels to the project ahead of schedule during a market, which is finding significant supply chain issues cascading throughout the SOV sector. Achieving this is testament to the hard work and dedication of our 130-strong shoreside team and carefully selected shipyard.”
“We believe we are leading the way in delivering ships without any delays to add further operational excellence and efficiencies to our clients,” he said. “We have a tried and tested newbuild strategy in place through which we are delivering not only a leading vessel design, but a fully qualified complement of experienced crew to deliver the service we pride ourselves in.”
North Star employs about 1,300 people out of its facilities in Aberdeen, Newcastle, and Lowestoft, and has unrivaled marine expertize in the North Sea. Its high performance, sustainable SOV design supports net-zero goals. These ships provide hotel-quality accommodation to offshore wind-turbine technicians and a centralized logistics hub in field. It is also configured to handle cargo and act as a warehouse.
The Grampian Derwent is a larger iteration of the three other VARD designed newbuilds secured as part of the biggest SOV contract ever awarded in the U.K. This second ship boasts an increased warehouse capacity and ability to accommodate 50 client technicians compared to 40 personnel on the other fleet tonnage. The vessel is also equipped with a 17 meter helideck and larger 5Te capacity 3D crane for offshore lifting. The digital suite of tools and North Star’s Decision Support Software will also be used to provide feedback and learnings to the project with regards to operational tracking, KPI’s and improving emissions.
North Star has also begun work on the construction of its first two commissioning SOVs, after awarding the contract to VARD in Norway in May. This will see the two firms collaborate on up to four of its uniquely designed ships specifically tailored for this growth market.