Vessel operator North Star intends to take on dozens of experienced seafarers ahead of its new offshore wind fleet arriving in UK waters early next year.
The company, which has facilities in Aberdeen, Lowestoft and Newcastle, is looking to hire 42 qualified seafarers in the next few months to support the first of its four new service operations vessels (SOVs).
All four are set to serve the mammoth 3.6GW Dogger Bank Wind Farm development off the East Yorkshire coast, after the company secured contracts worth £360m with developers SSE Renewables, Equinor, and Vårgrønn last year.
The intake marks the beginning of a recruitment drive that will see more than 170 seafarers welcomed aboard over the next 18 months to crew the four-strong fleet and associated daughter craft – the latter being amongst the sector’s first to use hybrid propulsion.
The new SOVs offer floating-hotel style accommodation for offshore technicians, enabling travel to and from work via a “walk-to-work” gangway, or daughter craft. They are also configured to handle cargo and logistics and can act as an offshore warehouse.
North Star is looking to hire personnel into roles including ship’s master, chief officer, second officer, gangway and crane operators, as well as electrical engineers.
New recruits will join the company’s existing 1,300 personnel working across its fleet of 41 emergency response and rescue vessels (ERRVs) and platform supply ships in the UK North Sea.
SOV operations director Steve Myers said: “Over the past 135 years, the business has expanded from fishing into oil and gas, and now into offshore wind. Our four state-of-the-art SOVs are on 10-year minimum charters to the Dogger Bank Wind Farm, which presents a host of exciting seafaring career opportunities with long-term prospects.
“As our unique vessel design utilises the most cutting-edge solutions including AI and machine learning technologies, walk-to-work gangways, and dynamic positioning, we have developed a programme of transition training to help upskill our current crew with their offshore wind career ambitions.”
Mr Myers said the new hires would across both the new SOVs and backfill openings within the existing fleet.
This recent recruitment drive is underpinned by North Star’s ongoing cadet programme – the largest of its kind in the UK – into which the group invests around £1 million annually.
Elsewhere in the business, North Star has also taken on Joanna Lang as its first in-house legal counsel.
Based in Aberdeen, Joanna has 20 years’ experience in global legal, contract and commercial roles, including a decade of experience supporting energy companies including Subsea 7, ROVOP and ROVCO.
The intake follows a newly secured £140m finance package, backed in part by the Scottish National Investment Bank (Snib) – which will support the “next wave” of the company’s expansion.
“This investment has opened the door wider for more sustainable careers for both cadets and the more experienced seafarers we retain and attract as the industry transitions,” added North Star chief exec Matthew Gordon.
“We are not just hiring people to carry out a job, we aim to create a strong pipeline of skilled talent as we encourage and support our people to develop their careers.”