North Star wins £90m Dogger Bank Wind Farm vessel contract

By Dominic Ellis
North Star Group has clinched the service operations vessel contract to support the third phase of the Dogger Bank Wind Farm

North Star Group has clinched the service operations vessel (SOV) contract to support the third phase of the Dogger Bank Wind Farm being built off the Yorkshire coast.

The UK firm has secured a long-term charter worth approximately £90 million to deliver an additional ship boasting its new hybrid-powered renewables fleet design for Dogger Bank C to support offshore wind technicians working in the field.

The ship bound for Dogger Bank C is a third order of a VARD 4 12 SOV, which is 78 metres long with a 19 metres beam and has 60 single cabins. Each vessel has a deadweight capacity of 1,600 tonnes.

The remaining vessel is a VARD 4 19, 85-metre which also has a 19 metres beam and will be able to accommodate 78 persons in single cabins. has a deadweight capacity of 2,000 tonnes and has a helipad.

Each of the four Dogger Bank SOVs have been contracted on a 10-year agreement, with three additional one-year options. The £360 million combined value is believed to be one of the world’s most successful offshore renewables related SOV charter deals of 2021, and further consolidates North Star’s position as the UK’s leading offshore infrastructure support services company.

All four are being built at VARD’s Vung Tau shipyard in Vietnam. Work on the first vessel started in October and the first SOVs are scheduled to arrive at Port of Tyne in summer 2023, with the Dogger Bank C ship due in 2025.

VARD ceo Alberto Maestrini said: “We would like congratulate North Star for the fourth contract of the complete vessel package for Dogger Bank Wind Farm, and at the same time thank North Star for choosing VARD as partner to design and build their hybrid-powered renewables fleet."

Around 40 new full-time positions in crewing and onshore-based jobs will be created locally in support of the Dogger Bank C contract, in addition to the 130 announced previously to support the first three SOVs. 

North Star Group employs around 1,400 personnel out of its facilities in Aberdeen, Newcastle and Lowestoft and currently supports more than 50 installations with its existing purpose-built tonnage.

North Star’s new SOVs provide floating-hotel style accommodation to offshore wind turbine technicians and a centralised logistics hub to travel to and from work each day across a “walk-to-work” gangway, or transfer via a smaller daughter craft vessel. They are also configured to handle cargo and act as a warehouse.

North Star ceo Matthew Gordon said securing the final SOV contract required for the Dogger Bank Wind Farm development is testament to the hard work of its team and technology partners. "We are fully committed to supporting the local supply chain and communities in the UK where possible and are actively recruiting around 170 personnel from across the country to support this complete vessel package," he said. 

“We’d like to thank Equinor, SSE Renewables and Eni for their enthusiasm and confidence in our SOV service, which significantly shifts the dial on sustainability, comfort, safety and workability. These hybrid-powered vessels are futureproofed for tomorrow’s zero-carbon emission marine fuels and the superior home-from-home living space will provide the offshore wind technicians exceptional respite from the often-harsh North Sea environment.

“The Dogger Bank C award has put us in an even stronger market position to deliver further value to our shareholders as we continue with our strategic ambitions to secure additional projects in the UK offshore renewables market and beyond.”

Due to its size and scale, Dogger Bank is being built in three consecutive 1.2GW phases (A, B and C). In total the wind farm is expected to generate enough renewable electricity to supply 5% of the UK’s demand, equivalent to powering six million homes.

Rune Rønvik, project manager for Dogger Bank, said with the final SOV also being delivered by North Star, it will have the same ship owner across all three phases, meaning it can develop further operational synergies.

“As we have seen from North Star’s initial contract award, securing big orders can really help UK businesses enter the offshore wind market, secure investment and create jobs, and we at Dogger Bank are proud to have played a role in enabling this UK company take advantage of the global opportunity presented by offshore wind.”

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