The US gets a game-changing offshore wind farm installation vessel

Richmond, Virginia-headquartered Dominion Energy is building the Charybdis, the first Jones Act-qualified offshore wind turbine installation vessel in the US. (Interesting name choice for the vessel – a dangerous mythological sea monster.)

And Danish wind giant Ørsted and Boston-headquartered electric company Eversource today announced that they will charter the Charybdis for the construction of Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind, two of their planned offshore wind farms in the Northeast.

The Charybdis

The Jones Act is a US federal law that requires goods shipped between US ports to be transported on vessels that are built, owned, and operated by US citizens or permanent residents. 

The 472-foot, $500 million Charybdis is being built in Brownsville, Texas, on the western Gulf coast, at global marine shipbuilder Keppel AmFELS’s shipyard, out of 14,000 tons of US-sourced steel. One thousand US workers will be employed at peak construction.

The Charybdis will be able to handle wind turbine sizes of up to 12 megawatts or larger. It will also be able to install turbine foundations. It’s expected to be sea-ready by late 2023.

Charybdis will first be deployed out of New London, Connecticut’s harbor to support the construction of Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind. State Pier in New London will create and support a large number of jobs as a result of hosting the vessel. It will be homeported in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and manned with an American crew.

The offshore wind farms

Revolution Wind is a 704-megawatt offshore wind farm that will provide power to 350,000 Connecticut and Rhode Island homes. The site is located more than 15 miles south of the Rhode Island coast, 32 miles southeast of the Connecticut coast, and 12 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard. Construction could begin as early as 2023.

Sunrise Wind is an approximately 924-megawatt offshore wind farm that will power nearly 600,000 homes in New York. Its site is around 30 miles east of Montauk Point, New York. Con Edison and the New York Power Authority will provide support. It’s expected to be fully operational by 2024.

The charter’s terms will also allow the vessel, subject to state regulatory approval, to support construction of Dominion Energy’s 2.6-gigawatt Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project off the coast of Virginia Beach, which is expected to be completed in 2026.

David Hardy, Chief Executive Officer of Ørsted Offshore North America, said:

A Jones Act-qualified installation vessel is a game-changer for the development of the US offshore wind industry.

This investment will enable us to unlock the economic benefits of offshore wind, not just for the Northeast, but for the southern states as well. We’re proud to partner with Dominion Energy and Eversource on this historic milestone.

Photo: Dominion Energy

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