North Star’s second hybrid-propulsion service operation vessels (SOVs) is set to be mobilised three months earlier than planned to support SSE Renewables with a new scope of work at the Dogger Bank Wind Farm.
The firm’s first of its new offshore wind fleet, the Grampian Tyne, was blessed last month (June) at an event held at the Dogger Bank O&M base in Port of Tyne. The second SOV, the Grampian Derwent, which is a larger ship with increased accommodation capacity and helideck, has recently been delivered to North Star in Vietnam.
The new award with SSE Renewables will see the UK’s leading infrastructure vessel support firm aiding the construction and commissioning stage at the initial phase of the wind farm’s development, located 130km off the east Yorkshire coast. This will allow the ships to then dovetail straight into their scheduled long-term charters to carry out operations and maintenance (O&M) related in field vessel activities for the development partners. The wind farm is a joint venture between SSE Renewables (40%), Equinor (40%) and Vårgrønn (20%), North Star has a proven track record of successfully building multiple vessels simultaneously on time and on budget. The 135-year-old business also has a robust £127 million finance package in place to fund its Dogger Bank SOV fleet newbuild programme, which will result in four of its hybrid-electric ships being operational in field by 2026, each on a 10-year minimum term charter agreement.
Michael Gordon, North Star commercial director, said: “Winning this new scope of work at Dogger Bank – our first in construction and commissioning – is part of our focus to be a true value add service partner. We are extremely proud to be recognised as a dependable operator delivering these vessels to the project ahead of schedule during a market which is finding significant supply chain issues cascading throughout the SOV sector. Achieving this is testament to the hard work and dedication of our 130-strong shoreside team and carefully selected shipyard.
“We believe we are leading the way in delivering ships without any delays to add further operational excellence and efficiencies to our clients. We have a tried and tested newbuild strategy in place through which we are delivering not only a leading vessel design, but a fully qualified complement of experienced crew to deliver the service we pride ourselves in.”
North Star employs around 1,300 personnel out of its facilities in Aberdeen, Newcastle and Lowestoft, and has unrivalled marine expertise in the North Sea. Its high performance, sustainable SOV design supports net-zero goals. These ships provide hotel-quality accommodation to offshore wind turbine technicians and a centralised logistics hub in field. It is also configured to handle cargo and act as a warehouse.
The Grampian Derwent is a larger iteration of the three other VARD designed newbuilds secured as part of the biggest SOV contract ever awarded in the UK. This second ship boasts an increased warehouse capacity and ability to accommodate 50 client technicians compared to 40 personnel on the other fleet tonnage. The vessel is also equipped with a 17m helideck and larger 5Te capacity 3D crane for offshore lifting. The digital suite of tools and North Star’s unique Decision Support Software will also be utilised and provide feedback and learnings to the project with regards to operational tracking, KPI’s and improving emissions.
North Star has also begun work on the construction of its first two commissioning SOVs, after awarding the contract to VARD in Norway in May. This will see the two firms collaborate on up to four of its uniquely designed ships specifically tailored for this growth market.