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Biden Uses Steel Cutting of Wind Vessel to Promote Offshore Energy Progress

Biden at Philly Shipyard
Biden speaking at Philly Shipyard to mark construction of the first rock installation vessel for the U.S. wind industry (Business Network for Offshore Wind)

Published Jul 20, 2023 8:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

President Joe Biden visited the Philly Shipyard in Pennsylvania to attend the steel-cutting ceremony for the first U.S. rock installation vessel being built for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corp. to support the burgeoning offshore wind power industry. Biden used the visit to the shipyard to also highlight the advancements in the U.S. offshore wind industry and announce the next lease auction, the first to be conducted for the Gulf of Mexico.

During his speech, the president highlighted that companies have announced 18 offshore wind shipbuilding projects as well as investments of nearly $3.5 billion across 12 manufacturing facilities and 13 ports to strengthen the American offshore wind supply chain. The vessels range from the first Jones Act-compliant installation vessels to a SOV, and crew transfer vessels. They are being built at shipyards ranging from Florida to Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. 

The visit was timed to coincide with the construction of Arcadia, a 461-foot long vessel that becomes the first offshore wind rock placement vessel and will be used by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock to enter the offshore wind sector. The vessel was designed by Ulstein and the construction contract, which is valued at $197 million, was awarded to Philly Shipyard in November 2021 along with an option for a second vessel.

The Subsea Rock Installation Vessel is designed to carry up to 20,000 metric tons of rock and will transport and strategically deposit the material to the ocean bottom, laying a foundation for the monopiles which serve as the prevailing support structure for offshore wind turbines. Delivery for the first vessel is expected in Q4 2024, and if awarded the second would be delivered in Q4 2025.

 

Biden was shown a model of the rock installation vessel being built at the yard (Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corp.)

 

Biden toured the shipyard and used the visit to highlight new data that shows there are more than 4,100 companies in all 50 states that are looking to support the U.S. offshore wind industry. He said the industry already includes nearly 1,500 contracts for work. 

Installation of the offshore foundations is now underway for the first two large, commercial-scale wind farms in the United States. Located off New York and Massachusetts both are targeted to complete construction by the end of this year while the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has moved forward with the review of the next two Construction and Operation plans. BOEM reports that it expects to review at least 16 Construction and Operation Plans for offshore wind farms by 2025, which would represent more than 27 GW of energy.

Biden and BOEM also today announced the next wind energy lease auction, which will be the first for the Gulf of Mexico. The areas will be auctioned on August 29 and will have the potential to generate approximately 3.7 GW and power almost 1.3 million homes. One area is over 102,000 acres offshore of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Two other areas are offshore Galveston, Texas comprising a total of approximately 200,000 acres. 

In less than a year, BOEM has conducted lease auctions for the New York Bight, Carolina Long Bay, and northern and central California. BOEM has also completed another step in reviewing a potential offshore wind research lease in the Gulf of Maine and is moving forward with plans for a lease area off the coast of Oregon. 

Biden has committed the United States to 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030.