NORTH KINGSTOWN – Deepwater Wind, the Rhode Island- based offshore wind developer signed an agreement on Monday that will create more than 70 local jobs at two local marine companies.
Rhode Island Fast Ferry, the high-speed catamaran company located at Quonset Point entered into an agreement with
Deepwater Wind (DWW) to contract, commission and manage services for the first U.S. built offshore wind crew transfer vessel.
Marking the launch of the ferry company’s commercial wind support services division, Atlantic Wind Transfers, the newly formed company in turn commissioned Blount Boats of Warren to build the first crew vessel to be used at the Block Island Wind Farm.
“We’re excited to partner with two veteran Rhode Island companies that will bring their decades of experience to supporting our Block Island Wind Farm,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, Deepwater Wind CEO in a release. “Most importantly, this will mean more jobs in the marine trades for Rhode Islanders and another way that the Ocean State will lead the growth of this new American offshore wind industry.”
In a joint release, DWW stated that RI Fast Ferry was chosen for its “offshore operating experience, impeccable safety record and catamaran water jet experience.”
Blount Boats, known for its steel and aluminum vessels has been in existence in the Ocean State for more than six decades. Construction of the transfer vessel is expected to secure jobs for 70 workers throughout the 12-month build period.
In March, Deepwater Wind secured all debt and equity funding needed to construct and operate the nation’s first demonstration wind farm off the shores of Block Island. The five-turbine wind farm located exclusively in Rhode Island waters, is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2016.
According to Deepwater Wind, the long-term, 20 year charter services agreement is the first deal of its kind to be signed in the United States and marks another significant milestone in the successful development and deployment of US offshore wind.
Rhode Island Fast Ferry is said to be investing over $4 million to build the vessel and provide training to meet the needs of the Block Island Wind Farm.
“We are very excited to be a part of this offshore wind farm project and to work with Deepwater Wind,” said Charles A. Donadio, Jr., President, Rhode Island Fast Ferry. “Launching Atlantic Wind Transfers and building the first crew transfer vessel in the United States with local company Blount Boats is not only good for the State of Rhode Island, but it will also provide for future growth and enhance the capabilities of our company in the US offshore energy sector.”
Expectations within the North American offshore wind market were said to have escalated in recent months, making the exclusive first charter services deal tangible proof of the benefits in and commercial potential of working within the wind sector.
Due to the long-term nature of the charter agreement, the deal is expected to create long-term, local Rhode Island jobs, with each workboat chartered to an offshore wind farm typically requiring a crew of 5-6 full-time, skilled employees who work year round.
Marcia Blount, President of Blount Boats, a family owned and operated company stated, “We are honored to be chosen to build the first U.S. flagged windfarm vessel in the United States. The vessel is designed specifically for turbine transfer service. We enthusiastically join an all Rhode Island team of windfarm, operator, and boat builder.”
Atlantic Wind Transfers will provide crew and equipment support during the construction phase of the Block Island Wind Farm, beginning in spring 2016. The company’s location and dockage facility at Quonset Point allows Atlantic Wind Transfers and Deepwater Wind quick and convenient access to the wind farm site.
Following completion of the 30 megawatt, five-turbine site, work will move into operations and maintenance support. The operations cycle will encompass a scheduled maintenance program as well as any additional crew transfer support required throughout the 20-year lifecycle of the nation’s first US offshore wind farm project.
Deepwater Wind is involved in multiple wind energy products, actively developing a portfolio on both the East and West Coasts.
An official keel laying ceremony is planned for summer 2015 at Blount Boats where the workboat will be officially inaugurated.