Keel Laid for Jones Act Offshore Wind Turbine Installation Vessel

keel laid for Jones Act compliant wind installation vessel
Rendering of the Jones Act compliant wind installation vessel - courtesy of Keppel

Published Dec 16, 2020 7:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

Construction of the first Jones Act compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel marked an important milestone with the keel laying for the vessel, which will be named Charybdis. Being built for Dominion Energy at the Keppel AmFELS shipyard in Brownsville, Texas, the vessel is expected to enter service by the end of 2023.

The vessel, which will have a length of 472, will be according to Dominion, one of the biggest vessels of its kind and represents a significant step in the development of the U.S. offshore wind market. Built in the U.S., it will be compliant with the Jones Act, meaning that it can support the domestic industry with coastal operations from U.S. ports. Recently, several projects have been announced for different types of vessels to fill the needs of the market and meet the regulatory requirements.

This vessel is designed to handle current turbine technologies as well as next generation turbine sizes of 12 megawatt or larger and will also be capable of the installation of foundations for turbines and other heavy lifts. Keppel AmFELS was contracted for the engineering, procurement and construction of the offshore wind turbine installation vessel. Seajacks, an operator of self-propelled jack-up vessels for offshore wind turbine installations will assist Dominion Energy with construction and operations oversight. 

The overall project cost, including the construction and commissioning is estimated to be around $500 million. Financing for the vessel has been arranged through a lease financing agreement with leading global banks.

The keel section for the new vessel - courtesy of Dominion Energy

"This is a monumental step for the offshore wind industry in America," said Robert M. Blue, Dominion Energy's president and chief executive officer. "Dominion Energy is proud to be leading a consortium of respected industry participants in the construction of the first Jones Act compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel, which will provide significant American jobs, and provide a reliable, home-grown installation solution with the capacity to handle the next generation of large-scale, highly-efficient turbine technologies. This will better enable the offshore wind industry to bring clean, renewable energy to customers in the U.S."

Dominion Energy expects the vessel to be fully utilized in support of the installation of over 5 gigawatts of planned offshore wind generation off the East Coast of the U.S. through 2027 and beyond. Once constructed, the vessel will be available for charter, including by Dominion Energy Virginia, in connection with the installation of its Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project.

According to a report by The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the US Department of Energy found the U.S. could develop a total of 86 GW of offshore wind projects by 2050. Project developers expect 14 offshore wind projects totaling 9,112 MW to be operational by 2026. The availability of Jones Act compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessels will be a key step in reaching the goals for the U.S. offshore wind market.