Wind-farm service vessel and world’s largest LNG barge to be built at Sturgeon Bay shipyard
Global maritime and energy companies are relying on Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding (FBS) in Sturgeon Bay to build two large vessels on the cutting edge of the energy industry.
Parent company Fincantieri Marine Group has confirmed that FBS will soon begin constructing a 289-foot-long service-operations vessel (SOV) to accommodate large crews to tend to 176 wind turbines off the coast of Virginia for Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. In 2021, Crowley and Danish offshore maritime leader ESVAGT formed a partnership called CREST Wind to jointly provide offshore service under a long-term charter with Siemens.
Under the new contract, ESVAGT’s U.S. operation will support Crowley with the design, construction, crew training and operations for the vessel to support the Dominion Energy Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. Crowley said CREST Wind and its SOV services will “deliver the best of both worlds: combining European designs and operating practices with the safety and operational expertise of the premier U.S. vessel operator.”
Consistent with federal law, the vessel will be U.S. built. It’s scheduled to be completed and put into service in 2026.
“This order confirms Fincantieri as a prime mover in the sector of offshore wind-support vessels, which will attract huge investments in the coming years,” said Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of Fincantieri, in a press release. “As stated in our business plan, the push for decarbonization will further strengthen our industrial competitive positioning and distinctiveness of our business model. At the same time, it will stem synergies across the whole core business to enhance the competencies of our [Fincantieri Marine] Group.”
Bob Karl, senior vice president and general manager for Crowley Wind Services, said in a statement that the company looks forward to “continuing our work to develop state-of-the-art, purpose-built vessels to meet sustainable-energy demands in the U.S.”
The SOV is designed to accommodate crews, equipment and work platforms for weeks or months offshore. During assignments, wind-turbine technicians live on an SOV, which hosts an onboard workshop and much of the equipment and spare parts needed to safely and efficiently service an offshore wind farm.
The SOV is designed for comfort while providing a highly efficient workspace and safe transfer of technicians at the wind farm via a motion-compensated gangway and transfer boats. It also will offer recreational activities for the onboard crew and technicians, including fitness facilities, a game room, cinema and individual accommodations.
FBS Also Building World’s Largest LNG Barge
Before the SOV construction begins, FBS will stay busy with the winter fleet, as well as a 416-foot-long liquid natural gas (LNG) barge, which Crowley hired FBS to construct one year ago. A Crowley corporate spokesperson said the hull of the Shell Oil LNG barge is nearing completion, and it will undergo seaworthiness testing before tanks are added and it’s launched sometime this spring or summer.
To date, it will be the largest Jones Act–compliant vessel of its kind, with a capacity of 3.17 million gallons and carrying additional equipment to efficiently refuel and serve ocean carriers. It is the third LNG barge built at Fincantieri facilities.
“The new bunker barge will extend Crowley’s commitment to deliver cleaner, innovative solutions to help the shipping industry continue on the path to decarbonization,” said Tucker Gilliam, vice president of Crowley Shipping, last January. “Orders for ships fueled by liquefied natural gas continue to rise, and the vessel will provide Shell with an innovative and reliable service to meet the demands for more sustainable energy sources.”