Today, the first US-built and operated offshore wind farm crew transfer vessel will be named at an official christening ceremony in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Following the Christening the ‘Atlantic Pioneer’, owned and operated by Atlantic Wind Transfers, the commercial wind support services arm of Rhode Island Fast Ferry, will embark on the first phase of a 20-year charter to support the construction and operation of the Block Island offshore wind farm.The Block Island site, currently under construction by developer Deepwater Wind off the coast of Rhode Island, is set to be the first offshore wind farm in US waters.
Installing an offshore wind farm is a significant logistical endeavor, requiring the support of highly proficient and versatile players throughout the supply chain. Adhering to strict construction timelines, whilst managing the scheduling impact of adverse weather conditions at sea, depends on high levels of vessel availability and the ability to quickly deliver technicians to the site, fresh and ready to work.For the lifetime of the Block Island project, Atlantic Wind Transfers will provide crew and equipment transfer services to meet these key logistical requirements. The Atlantic Pioneer was built in Rhode Island and is a 21 meter aluminium vessel that was designed by South Boats IOW, Cowes, Isle of Wight, U.K. South Boats IoW is a pioneer in designing and manufacturing crew transfer vessels and has built approximately 81 crew transfer vessels for the European offshore wind sector, servicing wind farms throughout Europe.
The Vessel is able to safely deliver 16 technicians in comfort, along with 3 crew and 12 tons of equipment directly to the base of a turbine or offshore platform. With a fuel capacity of 2100 US gallons, the Atlantic Pioneer has the capacity to operate for several days at a time between refueling, and can reach a maximum speed of 30 knots.After today’s Christening ceremony, which will bring together over 150 representatives of the US offshore wind industry, along with State Governor Gina Raimondo, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and US Congressmen David Cicilline, Atlantic Pioneer will be ready for deployment to the Block Island project site.For the first month of its long-term charter, the vessel will be engaged in supporting subsea cabling specialist Durocher Marine, delivering technicians and their equipment to and from shore as inter-array cables are winched into place and connected at each of the turbine foundation sites. Following this phase of work, Atlantic Pioneer will be deployed to support Fred Olsen’s Brave Tern jack-up installation vessel as it lifts each of the five Alstom Haliade 150 6MW turbines into place.
“After 12 months in build and undergoing extensive sea trials, Atlantic Pioneer is ready to get straight to work delivering a first-class service to Deepwater Wind and the teams of specialist contractors responsible for bringing the Block Island offshore wind farm to fruition,” said Charles A. Donadio Jr., President, Atlantic Wind Transfers.“Our years of experience in the maritime sector – and lessons learned from our counterparts over in Europe – have shown us that availability and versatility are the essential attributes when it comes to supporting a marine construction project on this scale – the Atlantic Pioneer delivers both.”
“This is a significant milestone, and shows our local industry is ready and able to take advantage of opportunities in clean energy and rise to the challenge of supporting large-scale marine infrastructure projects,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Rhode Island is truly leading the way for the rest of the country in offshore wind – and these contracts will create local job opportunities in our state for years to come,” she commented. .“The Atlantic Pioneer represents a tremendous partnership between two veteran Rhode Island companies, bringing their decades of experience to support the Block Island Wind Farm, and we’re thrilled to celebrate the christening of this remarkable vessel,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, Deepwater Wind CEO.
“The tremendous work by Atlantic Wind Transfers and Blount Boats is just another example of how the Ocean State is leading this new American offshore wind industry and creating more Rhode Island jobs in the marine trades.”
Block Island Offshore Wind Farm is due for completion in the fourth quarter of 2016. Following commissioning of the project, Atlantic Wind Transfers will support essential ongoing operations and maintenance activity, helping to guarantee the performance of the 5-turbine wind farm over the long term.