North Star Renewables has cut steel on the first two of a hybrid-powered vessel fleet due to set sail for the Dogger Bank wind farm.
Two cutting ceremonies, a traditional moment in the shipbuilding process, have taken place in different parts of the world, one in Vietnam and the other in Great Yarmouth.
Aberdeen-based North Star announced in August it won a £96 million funding package to support the building of three new service operations vessels (SOVs) to support the delivery of the Dogger Bank offshore wind farm under a charter of at least 10 years.
Three associated daughter crafts are also bound for the first two phases of the Dogger Bank, located off the east coast of Yorkshire.
The company – part of the North Star Shipping (NSS) group of companies – secured loan from multinational financial services giant Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI) supplemented by its own balance sheet, as well as equity commitments from NSS’s 100% shareholder, Basalt Infrastructure Partners.
Creation of 130 jobs
It has led to a jobs boost with more than 130 new recruits to be taken on to support the first ship being delivered from summer 2023.
Matthew Gordon, North Star chief executive, said: “It’s been exhilarating to see construction beginning on our first renewables fleet at both locations, demonstrating we are fully on track for delivering the six vessels on schedule despite the global pandemic.
“This is just the start of our journey in renewables. Not only do we have the capital in place we also have the experience and capabilities within our organisation to deliver and operate numerous offshore wind vessel fleets simultaneously.
“It’s our overarching objective we have planned to secure at least 15 renewable fleet contracts within the next five years; and our business is ready to do so.”
NSR’s three Dogger Bank-bound SOVs are being built by Norwegian company Vard under a £270m deal.
The first of the two sister 5,000-tonne vessels being built will accommodate up to 40 technicians working on the wind farm’s offshore wind turbines at its first two phases, Dogger Bank A and Dogger Bank B.
A third 6,000 tonnes SOV, which features a helideck and space for up to 50 personnel, will also be delivered.
Simultaneously this week, work gets underway on building what will be the world’s first hybrid-powered daughter craft for the offshore wind market, as the aluminium-cutting commenced at Alicat’s shipyard in Great Yarmouth (UK).
Designed by Southampton-based naval architects Chartwell Marine in collaboration with North Star, the high-performance craft will be used to safely transfer technicians from the SOVs to work on the wind turbines benefitting from Chartwell’s unique AFS bow fender and other stability technology.
The craft will also be on emergency rescue support standby.
Once completed, Dogger Bank – about 80 miles off the Yorkshire coast – will become the world’s largest offshore wind farm, capable of powering an estimated six million UK homes.
It is currently under construction by joint-venture partners Equinor, SSE Renewables, and Eni.
Simon Coote, Alicat director, said: “It’s always a very exciting moment to see the first cut of the aluminium achieved on a newbuild project, but to be involved in a first for the offshore wind industry has really upped the ante.
“There is a wealth of industry talent on Dogger Bank’s doorstep and it’s great to be recognised for having the necessary skills and facilities to deliver a project of this size.”