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Keel Laying Ceremony for First U.S. Hybrid SOV for Offshore Wind Industry

SOV keel laying ceremony
The second SOV under construction by ECO for offshore wind, this will be a hybrid with battery power storage (Edison Chouest)

Published Aug 15, 2023 5:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

Edison Chouest Offshore is marking another shipbuilding milestone for the emerging U.S. offshore wind sector. The yard along with partners Equinor and BP marked the keel laying for the next vessel for the industry, a service operation vessel that will feature a hybrid power system with battery power storage.

The vessel was ordered last year and will operate under a ten-year charter providing crew transport services as part of the operations and maintenance for the Empire Wind 1 and 2 wind farms to be located off New York’s Long Island. The vessel is being built at ECO’s LaShip yard in Houma, Louisiana. It is the largest yard in the company, able to handle new construction projects, as well as repairs, conversions, and refits.

The hybrid SOV is the first in the U.S. that will have the ability to sail in and out of port under battery power. Plans call for it to be homeported at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, where it will also recharge using shore power. It will sail in and out of port under battery power eliminating in-port emissions and the vessel is certified to “tier 4 emission standards.”

With accommodations for up to 60 wind turbine technicians, the vessel will be Jones Act compliant and be operated by Edison Chouest Offshore. It is due to enter service the companies said in the mid-2020s.

Empire Wind is being developed through a 50-50 joint venture between Equinor and BP and will be located 15 to 30 miles southeast of Long Island. The companies received the lease in 2017 and are in the later stages of permitting before construction begins. The wind farm spans 80,000 acres, with water depths of between approximately 75 and 135 feet. The project’s two phases, Empire Wind 1 (816 MW) and 2 (1,260 MW), have a total installed capacity of more than 2 GW.

It is the latest in a series of innovative vessels the ECO is building for the emerging offshore wind sector. In the spring they marketed the 50 percent completion point for the U.S.’s first SOV for the offshore wind sector. The company is building the vessel, known as Eco Edison, which will support the operation and maintenance of Ørsted and Eversource’s Revolution Wind, South Fork Wind, and Sunrise Wind projects in the Northeast United States. This first vessel will be homeported in Port Jefferson, New York, and is due to enter service in 2024.

The shipbuilding also recently started work on the first mini-crew transfer vessel for the offshore wind sector. That vessel will operate as a daughter crew for the SOV to transfer engineers and technicians to the individual turbines in the wind farm. 

Last month during the keel laying for the first rock laying vessel being built for the U.S. offshore wind industry, President Joe Biden highlighted that the sector has already contributed to 18 shipbuilding projects ranging from the SOVs to the smaller crew transfer vessels. MARAD last year also to be considered critical vessels and eligible for its loan guaranty program to assist with additional shipbuilding as the offshore industry moves forward.