RWE is to pioneer the design and build of a new amphibious vessel enabling crews to reach offshore wind farms in shallow waters.
Designed and built in partnership with Commercial Rib Charters (CRC), the crew transfer vessel has been created to reach turbines at the Scroby Sands scheme, which have become stranded by the natural rising tide of the sandbank on which it is built.
The fully seaworthy vessel, which can also drive on land, provides a unique access solution for some of the industry’s first-generation assets affected by the challenging seabed conditions.
The vessel is a 12m type approved crew transfer vessel, with a 1000kg deck cargo capacity. It features two wheels at the front and one at the back, and is capable of transferring 10 technicians and two crew to any of the turbines within the array, including on the raised sandbank.
RWE’s 60-megawatt (MW) Scroby Sands project, off Great Yarmouth, was one of the first of a group of schemes to be built in the UK, and all in coastal locations with relatively shallow waters close to shore.
It features 30 turbines and was built on a prehistoric sandbank and, because of natural changes in the marine environment and coastal erosion, this has risen over time effectively isolating four turbines from being accessed by service vessels.
The bespoke solution was jointly developed in record time between RWE’s operations team, its technical innovation team and its vessel provider Commercial Rib Charter (CRC), which contracted naval architects Chartwell Marine to carry out the design to the specifications requested.
The vessel is to be named ‘CRC Walrus’ in honour of R.J. Mitchells’ classic 1930s Supermarine amphibious biplane.
The craft is now in construction and is being built by Isle of Wight based boat builders Diverse Marine. It will be operated for RWE by CRC, via a six-year contract.
Stuart Hedges of Commercial Rib Charter commented: “The collaborative approach we have taken has helped mitigated the risk on such a technically innovative project. Working with highly competent marine architects and a boat builder steeped in experience has not only produced an excellent design but has done so to both budget and timetable. We signed the build contract with Diverse Marine in December, and we plan to be operational at Scroby in September this year.”
RWE Renewables CEO for offshore wind, Sven Utermöhlen, added: “The new amphibious maintenance vessel at Scroby Sands is really exciting; it’s a great testimony to the talent of our employees and contractors, and once again demonstrates RWE and its partners leading the way in future-proofing offshore wind.”