Dutch heave compensation specialist Seaqualize has signed its first contract for their newly developed offshore lifting device: the Heave Chief 1100. DEME Offshore US will deploy the HC1100 on the first commercial scale wind farm installation project in the USA, Vineyard Wind, to transfer delicate wind turbine components to and from heaving supply vessels. The HC1100 is currently the largest active heave compensator in the world. As a Balanced Heave Compensator (BHC), it can compensate a vessel’s heave motions and safely quick-lift loads up to 1,100 metric tons (tonnes), although being battery powered.
Feeder-barge operations: Jones Act compliant
Since the high ambitions of US offshore wind were announced, the market has been looking for ways to get sufficient Jones Act compliant installation capacity in place. Seaqualize and DEME Offshore have been working together on developing a novel tool, enabling a Jones Act compliant feeder-barge concept. To lift delicate wind turbine components from feeder-barges to an installation vessel while being offshore is a complicated operation. This type of operation, which needs to be done safely, efficiently, frequently and often in harsh weather conditions, requires a new, next generation lifting tool.
DEME Offshore: The Vineyard Wind 1 project
DEME Offshore, the market leader in offshore wind installations, is the first contractor that will embark on such an operation, by transporting and installing 62 wind turbine generators for the Vineyard Wind 1 project, the first commercial scale offshore wind installation in the United States. Each turbine will be transported in components from the supply harbor to DEME’s installation vessel Sea Installer. DEME Offshore US has contracted the HC1100 to ensure the components can be safely lifted from the heaving supply barges, and thus continue working in challenging weather conditions.
“We contracted Seaqualize to de-risk the Vineyard Wind project: their solution is a novel, but realistic method to safely transfer the delicate components, minimising the risk of damage and delays. We think this is how Feeder Barge operations should be done going forward,” says Glenn Carton, Project Director Vineyard Wind, DEME
The Seaqualize Heave Chief 1100
Since December 2019, Seaqualize has developed inline Balanced Heave Compensators, specifically for heavy lift, in-air active load control. Together with Van Oord Offshore Wind a prototype for 600 tonnes was successfully tested in November 2021. The HC1100 is based on this prototype and will be the world’s largest and most sophisticated active heave compensator. It is scheduled for delivery in March 2023.
The HC1100 has an improved design to better serve the offshore wind market. It has an increased load-capacity of 1,100 tonnes (equivalent to nearly 7 jumbo jets), required to balance turbine components of the 15 MW generation. It can reach higher quick-lift speeds and has a longer stroke to handle the larger motions of smaller supply vessels. It also offers a single lift point for operational efficiency. The new design further minimises dynamic load fluctuations impacting the crane and offers passive safety procedures. In addition, Seaqualize’s in-house developed “follow-mode” allows the full load to match the movements of the target vessel. If required, quick-lift operations are fully reversible.
As many more wind installation projects will follow Vineyard Wind, various offshore installation contractors are currently investigating how to include the Heave Chief into their feeder-barge setup. Seaqualize expects to announce an additional contract before the end of the year, cementing Balanced Heave Compensation as the way to go for safe and efficient offshore feeder lifts. Alongside the HC1100, the company’s first full-scale BHC prototype is currently being upgraded for working loads up to 750 tonnes.