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Wednesday, February 27, 2019 

With a significant proportion of the European offshore wind support vessel fleet entering the latter phases of its operational lifetime, or no longer able to meet changing industry demands, there is a growing emphasis on the vessel market to refit or repurpose these boats.

In doing so, vessel owners and shipyards can seize a commercial opportunity to maximise the value of these assets and support the overall sustainability of the offshore wind sector. That, at least, is according to Chartwell Marine, a pioneer in next-generation vessel design that has supported a number of offshore wind vessel refit projects in recent months. Chartwell Marine has substantial expertise in vessel repurposing, including re-flagging, re-coding, and complete vessel conversion – such as from crew transfer vessel (CTV) to ferry, or leisure fishing boat to workboat.

While offshore wind is a young sector, with the majority of large-scale European projects no more than 10 years old – and expected to continue operating for 25 years in total – vessel lifetimes do not match those of offshore wind turbines. Furthermore, rapidly evolving construction and operational standards mean that many of the CTVs originally commissioned to service these projects may no longer meet the requirements of offshore wind developers and operators.

This is not to say, however, that these vessels are no longer fit for purpose. Indeed, for vessel owners there are two main options on the table. One is to repurpose these catamarans for operation in other sectors, or for different functions within offshore wind. Offshore wind CTVs have been redeployed effectively for purposes including survey, dive support and security.

The other option is to conduct refits that extend the operational lifetime of the vessels in offshore wind. This often involves upgrades to propulsion systems, increasing the number of persons who can be carried onboard, and lengthening of the hull to enhance deck space and potentially seakeeping. Chartwell Marine has provided design consultancy services to shipyards and vessel owners on a number of these refit projects.

“For a sector like offshore wind, which is founded on principles of sustainability, vessel support is one area where substantial efficiencies can be realised,” said Andy Page, MD Chartwell Marine. “With robust design support, vessels that are starting to reach the end of their utility for offshore wind operators can either be upgraded in a cost-effective manner to re-enter service or set to work in other maritime sectors.”

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