Rhode Island shipyards to build five new offshore wind crew vessels to service Ørsted and Eversource’s northeast wind farms

Source: press release, 27 January 2022

illustration: BMT/Ørsted/Eversource
illustration: BMT/Ørsted/Eversource

Ørsted and Eversource are bringing more offshore wind jobs to the Northeast, with their selection of two regional vessel operators that will partner with Rhode Island shipyards to build crew transfer vessels (CTVs) serving the offshore wind companies’ Northeast wind farms.

Joint venture partners Ørsted and Eversource will charter five new offshore wind CTVs from New York-based WindServe Marine and Massachusetts-based American Offshore Services (AOS). WindServe Marine’s affiliate shipyard, Senesco Marine, at Quonset Point in North Kingstown, R.I., will build three of the vessels and AOS is partnering with Blount Boats & Shipyard, of Warren, to build another two vessels.

Ørsted and Eversource’s chartering of the vessels will create about 80 local construction jobs at Senesco and Blount Boats, plus another approximately 48 jobs for captains and crew who will work aboard the vessels, primarily during the wind farms’ construction. A number of regional suppliers will provide vessel components, such as electronics, engines, cranes, aluminium, and safety equipment.

“Rhode Island continues to be a national leader in clean energy innovation,” says Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee. “We are proud that these companies chose our shipyards for this major partnership that will bring jobs to the Ocean State. With our blue economy ecosystem, which positions us to support the entire offshore wind supply chain, and substantial proposed investments to expand capacity for offshore wind developers, we are on a path to solidify Rhode Island as the East Coast hub of offshore wind development.”

“Rhode Island knows offshore wind and we are proud to be delivering even more jobs to the Ocean State’s marine trades to build these new crew vessels,” says David Hardy, Chief Executive Officer of Ørsted Offshore North America. “Our continuing commitment to Rhode Island shipbuilders, together with our selection of first-rate regional vessel operators, is just the latest example of our work to build a domestic supply chain to support the growing offshore wind industry.”

“Rhode Island has a long history of leading in ocean-based industries and has established one of the country’s most innovative and expansive blue economies,” says Joe Nolan, Chief Executive Officer and President of Eversource Energy. “This partnership between two outstanding local shipbuilders and two major vessel operators will be critical as we build and operate our portfolio of Northeast wind farms. Offshore wind is a growing industry with tremendous potential to create jobs and grow the domestic supply chain, and with today’s news, we are proud to once again help turn that promise into a new reality.”

These purpose-built vessels are designed to handle the unique offshore conditions at the wind farms, which will be located 15 miles off the Southern New England coast, and to transport technicians and materials safely to and from the wind farms and local ports.

Construction work is expected to start early this year at Senesco on the 88-foot long WindServe vessels and at Blount Boats on the 101-foot long AOS vessels. All five vessels will be built over the next 2 years, ready to provide crew transfer support during the construction phases of the Ørsted and Eversource joint venture’s three Northeast projects. The first vessel will be completed by early 2023.

“The AOS newbuild program for Ørsted and Eversource will bring over 40 skilled shipyard jobs to Rhode Island,” says David Kristensson, owner of Northern Offshore Services, a co-owner of AOS. “In addition, this partnership will give dozens of US merchant mariners the opportunity to embark on a new and exciting career path, throughout the Northeast. We are thrilled to bring the first purpose-built hybrid ready CTVs to the US market for Ørsted and Eversource and remain poised on delivering on our promise to bring maximum economic benefit to local suppliers.”

“Blount Boats has emerged as a leader in the CTV space having built two of the three US flagged CTVs currently in operation,” says Marcia Blount, President of Blount Boats, Inc. “Blount looks forward to substantially increasing its highly skilled workforce while maintaining its reputation for quality construction during the build of these hybrid ready CTVs, the first vessels in the AOS fleet.”

“WindServe Marine is excited to continue our CTV build program at Senesco Marine to deliver on our long-term commitments to create local jobs and provide high quality vessel operations for the US offshore wind industry,” says Josh Diedrich – Managing Director, WindServe Marine. “We look forward to expanding our partnership with Ørsted, Eversource, and industry stakeholders to ensure the success of US offshore wind projects.”

“Senesco Marine is proud to continue its partnership with WindServe Marine to build innovative and efficient CTVs for Ørsted and Eversource,” says Ted Williams, President, Senesco Marine. “Capable of builds of all sizes, CTVs are one of many vessel types that Senesco Marine builds with the highest of quality and safety standards. Senesco will commence local Northeast construction on three CTVs in early 2022 to support the expanding offshore wind industry on the East Coast.”

The two shipyards are leaders in building offshore wind crew transfer vessels: Blount Boats built the country’s first-ever offshore wind crew transfer vessel, the Atlantic Pioneer, which has served Ørsted’s Block Island Wind Farm since the American-first offshore wind farm began operations in 2016. Senesco built the Windserve Journey crew transfer vessel, which began operations in 2020 at the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project; Ørsted supported the engineering, procurement and construction of that offshore wind farm.

Among the largest offshore wind partnerships in the United States, the Ørsted and Eversource joint venture is playing a unique role in the development of a domestic offshore wind supply chain.

In December 2016, Ørsted and Eversource teamed up to launch a new clean energy industry in the Northeast. This partnership has now grown to include three offshore wind farms including the 704-megawatt Revolution Wind project serving Rhode Island and Connecticut; the 130-MW South Fork Wind serving Long Island, and the 924-megawatt Sunrise Wind project serving New York. All together, these projects will generate 1,760 MW of clean, renewable energy – enough for more than 1 million homes. The JV has the potential to more than double its existing portfolio within its current jointly owned uncontracted offshore wind energy lease areas.