Louisiana, US-based liftboat designer A.K. Suda has signed its first contract in the offshore wind segment, having agreed a deal with US liftboat operator All Coast. Under the terms of the contract, All Coast will take on an A.K. Suda-designed newbuild specifically to undertake the installation and maintenance of offshore wind farms. Delivery of this vessel is scheduled for 2020, A.K. Suda tells Offshore Marine Technology.
At present, All Coast has nearly 30 liftboats in its fleet. The operator’s co-chief executive, John Powers, has been vocal in stating what he wanted – and, in particular, what he didn’t want – from the new liftboat. On the announcement of the contract, Powers said: “The vessel has to be special-purpose, and efficiently designed, built and operated to have any success in this business. Barges on legs don’t make wind turbine installation vessels.”
The vessel is most likely to be deployed at an offshore wind farm maintained by energy giant Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. Suda adds: “The liftboat was designed to work within all of the known wind farm staging ports in the US, as well as in Europe.” At present, however, there is no assigned first job for the vessel, he reveals.
The new liftboat will be heavily based on A.K. Suda’s four-legged JG6000P class (pictured above). This model has been developed to operate in water depths ranging from 50m to 55m, features an air gap of 14.3m and accommodates up to 55 persons. Ajay Suda says: “In comparison to oilfield vessels of this size, wind farm installation vessels have heavy-duty jacking systems, as well as big cranes with long reaches.” Interestingly, he reveals, the majority of vessel types proposed for this task have, to date, comprised feeder vessels. He adds: “The JG6000P, however, can carry the turbines as well as install them.”
The liftboat will be able to carry up to four 8MW or two 10MW wind turbines, assisted by an onboard main crane rated 1,500tonnes SWL and an auxiliary crane rated 100tonnes. The JG6000P class boasts approximately 2,200m² of deck space and has a variable load capacity of 6,500tonnes. Other features include a dynamic positioning system (DPS), classed by ABS to DP2 status, and a 22.2m-diameter helideck.
According to Ajay Suda: “Based on information available, we are confident that it is cheaper to build [the vessel] in the US rather than in the Far East.” As a result – and thereby making the forthcoming newbuild compliant with the terms of the Jones Act – the first JG6000P for All Coast will be built by Lousiana's Semco Marine Construction & Engineering, which claims to have produced more than a dozen liftboats since 1994.