Chouest to Build First Jones Act Wind Farm Service Operations Vessel
Offshore vessel operator Edison Chouest has reached an agreement with the wind farm developer Ørsted and the utility company Eversource on a charter for the first-ever Jones Act-compliant service operations vessel (SOV). It will be the first vessel of its kind to be built, flagged, owned and crewed in America.
Under the agreement, Edison Chouest will design, build and operate the vessel under long term charter for the operation and maintenance of the future Revolution Wind, South Fork Wind and Sunrise Wind offshore wind farms in the northeastern U.S. These projects are still contingent upon a federal permit process managed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
"There is an unprecedented opportunity, with twelve offshore wind projects planned, an additional ten offshore wind leases signed, and another six wind leases awaiting award. In aggregate, there is a pipeline of well over 25 thousand megawatts of power to be produced by over 1,700 wind turbines, across thirteen states, and in various stages of development that will require an incredible array of vessels, resources, knowledge, and capital commitment," said Edison Chouest president Gary Chouest in a statement.
The new SOV will be used primarily for long-term operations and maintenance after wind farm installation is completed. It is designed to serve as a floating base of operations, providing housing and transfer arrangements for technicians, tools and parts to access turbine pylons. It will have room for 60 passengers, a large hold for parts and supplies, and a daughter craft for in-field operations. Its hydraulic height-compensating landing platform will give technicians straightforward walk-to-work access between the ship and the turbine.
The special-purpose vessel will be built in-house at Edison Chouest's shipyards in Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, creating over 300 new construction jobs. In addition to jobs created on the Gulf Coast, the vessel will be based in New York once in operation.
"This is an incredible moment for the American offshore wind industry," said Thomas Brostrom, CEO of Ørsted North America, Offshore. "The SOV is not only a crucial part of our plans to build out and operate our Northeast wind farms, but it represents just how far reaching the economic impacts of offshore wind can be; offshore wind means massive investments for U.S. companies and jobs for American workers, even those in states without active projects."
According to Nick Prokopuk, business development manager for special ships and offshore wind at DNV GL, there will be more SOVs on the way as the U.S. offshore wind sector takes off. "SOVs are going to be the big push in this market," he explained in a recent video. "I'm thinking to see a dozen - maybe even more - SOVs built over the next decade in the U.S. . . . [Smaller crew transfer vessels] are great, they can go really fast back and forth, but they're not ideal for winter conditions and can carry 10-12 people at most. That's why SOVs are the hot ticket in town."