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November 3, 2022

Vessels Of National Interest

With the growing momentum behind offshore wind vessels, how can shipyards and machine shops ready themselves for the assumed influx of demand?

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced the designation of offshore wind vessels as Vessels of National Interest. This designation is meant to spur more offshore wind construction and bring additional focus to project applications for review and funding through the Title XI Federal Ship Financing Program (Title XI).

The Title XI program assists the domestic shipbuilding industry by providing financial support for U.S. shipyards to modernize facilities, build and retrofit vessels and help U.S. shipowners purchase new domestically-produced vessels.

“We’re excited that some American shipyards have already secured contracts to build vessels to service offshore wind developments,” said Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips. “By growing [the shipbuilding industry], we further support essential offshore wind installations and continue to add jobs and strengthen our important domestic industrial base, including our shipyards and shipbuilding industry.”

This assistance program and the Vessels of National Interest designation, recently made available for offshore wind vessels, are significant milestones to help the U.S. reach 30 gigawatts (G.W.) of offshore wind by 2030, the initiative set in motion by the President.

Currently, more than 58 different types of vessels are needed to make offshore wind arrays possible. Dominion Energy, a major player in offshore wind, is the first to invest in a U.S.-flagged offshore Wind Tower Installation Vessel (WTIV) in Brownsville, Texas, that will be operational by late 2023. Not far behind are Orsted and Eversource, energy companies that have contracted with Edison Chouest in Louisiana to build the first U.S.-flagged Service Operations Vessel (SOV). In addition, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock is developing the first U.S.-flagged offshore wind Fallpipe Vessel for subsea rock installation as early as the first quarter of 2024. These three vessels are essential for the industry to meet current deployment goals, with additional vessels needed for different stages of offshore wind tower implementation.

The vessels needed for the early stages of development help with surveying to place buoys, map the seabed, take seafloor samples, prep the seabed and ensure project safety. These include:

  • Geotechnical Survey, Jack-Up Vessel
  • Geophysical Survey Vessel
  • Scout Vessels
  • Dredge Vessels

Next, for wind tower installation, the vessels needed to prep the foundation, transfer turbine components and personnel, lay cabling and provide noise mitigation are:

  • Crew Transfer Vessels (CTV)
  • Wind Tower Installation Vessels (WTIV)
  • Service Operation Vessels (SOV)
  • Jack-Up Barges/ Vessels
  • U-Feeder Vessels/ Feeder Barges
  • Noise Mitigation Vessels

With all this growing momentum behind offshore wind vessels, how can shipyards and machine shops ready themselves for the assumed influx of demand?

Most shipbuilders feel the biggest challenge in supplying vessels for offshore wind is not capacity but engineering and procurement. Design engineers often fail to provide a completed design upfront, augmenting ship design after, just before or during the building, drastically impacting delivery lead times. Furthermore, procurement of parts, especially now, as resources continue to be constrained due to overseas tensions, seems to pose a threat. This is why asking the right questions upfront and establishing strong U.S. manufacturing partnerships are critical.

While Scot Forge can’t speak to the processes of design engineers, we can say we know the importance of a fully integrated American supply chain. From steel production, forging and ABS inspection to heat treatment, NDT and semi-machined parts ready for fabrication, we only use U.S.-sourced labor and material. That said, shipyards and shipbuilders often don’t specify a vendor for forgings or castings. They leave that selection to the machine shops they partner with to produce the ready-to-install component.

So, whether you are a shipyard project manager or need to procure near-net-shaped metal parts, the U.S. has a supply chain ready to support your needs. Scot Forge has the experience, material and ABS relationships required to provide the parts that will set your vessels sailing. From a single ABS Grade 2 bar to pinions that support a jack-up rig, our owners have decades of experience delivering the quality required to build a vessel.