HULL shipyard is to build and operate a fleet of vessels to serve giant offshore wind farms planned for the North Sea. MMS Ship Repair will both construct and run the boats, which will transfer technicians and equipment to the wind turbines.
Capable of carrying 12 passengers, the vessels would be able to run a “shuttle service” between the shore and the sites where hundreds of turbines are to be installed. The multi-million pound project will see as many as six vessels, up to 24 metres in length, built by MMS – with the first ready for operation in approximately a year.
Rob Langton, managing director of MMS, said that the boats will meet the needs of the area’s rapidly-developing offshore wind energy industry. He said: “We started looking at this project 12 months ago. These vessels will have a unique design and will be much larger than most current boats – being purpose-built for the type of wind farms planned for the North Sea, which are further out from shore. The vessels will work much like a shuttle service and MMS will also crew the boats, so they will be operated by highly-experienced local seaman.”
Established in 1988, MMS is based at Alexandra Dock, overlooking the Green Port Hull development – the site earmarked for a proposed Siemens wind turbine factory. If approved, the plant will assemble turbines for the so-called Round Three, North Sea, wind farms, which are just 12 hours’ sailing time from the Humber.
Mr Langton said: “The Green Port Hull project and Round Three wind farms are the inspiration for the offshore transfer vessels. We have the perfect position, geographically – in Hull – and also the right experience and skills to build, operate and maintain these vessels as the offshore wind industry and supply chain grows around us in the Humber area.”
Up to 50 new jobs could be created through the project, including apprentice positions. This will add to the company’s existing workforce of 70 people. The vessels to be built by MMS will be catamarans and feature a wave-piercing hull design, allowing them to remain stable, yet fast, in the North Sea’s often choppy conditions.
The vessels will also have a unique turbine-transfer system to ensure they can safely disembark people and equipment upon reaching the offshore turbines. With a crew of three, the boats will be capable of 25 knots and have first class galley, toilet and shower facilities, together with crew’s sleeping accommodation.
Shipbuilding Tribune Staff, February 9, 2012; Image: MMS