North Star Renewables has handed out a multi-million pound contract to build vessels for use at the huge Dogger Bank offshore wind farm.
Great Yarmouth based marine and engineering specialist Alicat will construct its first hybrid powered daughter craft fleet with low carbon emissions potential.
Once completed, the vessels will operate at Dogger Bank, about 80 miles off England’s North East coast.
Following a competitive tender involving multiple UK shipyards, Alicat secured the initial contract with North Star.
The daughter crafts will utilise a combination of diesel and electric outboards, a “world first” for this form of workboat.
Designed by Southampton-based naval architects Chartwell Marine, in collaboration with North Star, the vessels will be used to safely transfer technicians from service offshore vessels (SOVs) to wind turbines.
Due to its scalem Dogger Bank is being built in three distinct phases in the North Sea.
Dogger Bank A and B are a joint venture between SSE Renewables (40%), Equinor (40%) and Eni (20%).
Dogger Bank C is a joint venture between SSE Renewables (50%) and Equinor (50%).
SSE renewables is leading on the construction of the wind farm and Equinor will operate the wind farm for its lifetime of up to 35 years.
Once the third phase is completed and operational, it will become the biggest offshore wind farm ever built, capable of generating around 5% of the UK’s electricity.
With bases in Aberdeen, Newcastle and Lowestoft, North Star has been servicing the North Sea’s oil and gas sector for more than 40 years.
It currently has 63 daughter craft within the existing fleet, managed and maintained by two divisions in Aberdeen and Lowestoft.
Robert Catchpole, North Star chief operating officer, said: “We are very excited to announce Alicat as the chosen shipbuilder for our first next generation and new breed of sustainable, reliable, comfortable daughter craft fleet, configured specifically for the renewables sector.
“Alicat is a leader in its field and demonstrated the comprehensive technical knowledge as well as great craftsmanship and the project management skills required to deliver the first of our new fleet. We also have great confidence in their capabilities after they satisfied all the financial, commercial and QHSE criteria set out in the contract.
“We are very fortunate to have talented companies like Alicat on our doorstep in East Anglia and working with them aligns to our strategy of utilising UK businesses whenever possible to strengthen our services in our ambitions as the market leader in marine offshore wind infrastructure support in the UK, and abroad.”
The £270 million deal is expected to create around 130 new jobs at the company, and North Star said it will be commencing a recruitment programme for seafarers in the next six months.
The new hybrid propulsion daughter crafts include stabiliser technology to ensure safe operations and smooth transport.
They will also have an increased sea state operability and safe transfer tank tested at wave heights of up to 1.7 metres – significantly higher than any alternative wind farm daughter craft.
The first vessel is being delivered a year ahead of schedule, under the build supervision locally of North Star Group’s Boston Putford division in Lowestoft.
This will allow time for performance analysis and improvements, crew training and additional development ahead of the first of three SOVs arriving from summer 2023.
Alicat director Simon Coote, said: “This multi-million-pound contract is a significant win for our business as it further establishes us on the renewables map as the first company in the world to build hybrid powered daughter craft, which is also the first offshore wind daughter craft to be built in the UK.
“Our involvement in testing and knowledge of the new breed of outboard propulsion packages has a significant role to play in the build of these innovative vessels.
“This is a great achievement for all the parties involved as well as for the local boatbuilding industry and supply chain which will support ongoing employment and open further opportunities for local employment and apprenticeships.”
Luca Daniele, marine & logistic leader at Equinor, said: “It’s great to see the impact Dogger Bank is having on the UK supply chain, and to see innovative companies like Alicat benefit from building the world’s largest offshore wind farm here. Innovation and sustainability are key areas of focus for the project and we are delighted the award of this contract demonstrates both.”