The vessels will be added to its new renewables fleet which is bound for the Dogger Bank Wind Farm - a joint venture between SSE Renewables (40%), Equinor (40%) and Eni Plenitude (20%) - off the North East coast of England from next year.
Last September, the marine and engineering specialist firm successfully won a competitive tender to build an initial two daughter crafts for the offshore wind service vessel operator utilising a hybrid powered design, developed by leading sustainable naval architect Chartwell Marine, in collaboration with North Star.
The partnership has resulted in the build of high-performance vessels that combine diesel and electric outboard propulsion, a first for the offshore wind market.
North Star’s first fleet purpose built for offshore wind operations and maintenance (O&M) support is being delivered to the Dogger Bank Wind Farm partners Equinor, SSE Renewables and Eni Plenitude, from February next year.
The full tonnage package includes four of North Star’s unique hybrid-powered service operation vessels (SOVs). These ships provide state-of-the-art comfort and accommodation for wind farm technicians working in field and encompass the latest green technologies to integrate and futureproof for zero emission fuels in the future.
New shipping capacity adds flexibility for personnel deployment and logistics
The quartet being built by Alicat to the Chartwell Daughter Craft design specifications will support operations with the safe transfer of maintenance technicians and equipment between the SOVs and wind turbines at Dogger Bank Wind Farm during phases A, B, and C, providing further flexibility in field when it comes to personnel deployment and logistics.
Alicat director Simon Coote said: “This commitment from North Star helps to sustain our business for a further two years, creating new employment opportunities and securing our workforce for the long term. We anticipate increasing our headcount with a further five new hires in the coming months, including up to three new apprentices.”
Andrew Duncan, renewables director at North Star, said as the UK’s largest offshore infrastructure support vessel operator, it has a proven track record of successfully delivering multiple newbuild projects simultaneously.
“We have been working very closely with Alicat since the first Chartwell design daughter craft award 10 months ago, and they have really impressed us with their knowledge, workmanship, and ‘can-do’ attitude which has resulted in some significant enhancements and efficiencies," he said.
"We have worked together for example on the interface of the daughter craft to the SOV power grid preboarding to charge the hybrid packs, power HVAC systems and spin the daughter craft’s gyroscope stabiliser technology prior to technicians boarding for efficiency and daily operational readiness.
Steve Wilson, project director for Dogger Bank Wind Farm, welcomed North Star strengthening its future operational fleet with additional daughter craft from Alicat, while supporting new job opportunities with the Great Yarmouth-based marine specialist.
"Our vessels will be critical to the safe and efficient operation of the world’s largest offshore wind farm when they enter service from next year onwards.”
North Star employs 1,300 personnel and has 63 assets currently being managed and maintained by its two rescue boat divisions in Aberdeen and Lowestoft.
Dogger Bank is providing 62 scholarships during the construction of the wind farm, with 25 allocated earlier this year, as part of a wider £1mn investment in local communities. The scholarship fund supports students undertaking courses focussed on science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
The programme has now re-opened to applicants across South Tyneside, Redcar and Cleveland and East Riding of Yorkshire.