Beluga- Hochtief Construction has begun work on the much awaited heavy- lift, jack- up vessel for use in the offshore wind turbine market. Mainly to be used in offshore construction market, the first vessel will be employed in the Global tech I Offshore Wind Farm. The entry of this vessel is said to address the problem of onerous offshore assembly of wind turbines. This ship is to be built by Poland’s Crist shipyard and is expected to enter service by 2012.
Developed as a project under the joint venture of Beluga shipping and Hochtief construction, the heavy lift is designed on the original concept of the jack- up vessel by the Hamburg based company of offshore engineers and naval architects- Overdick. The company is slated to install 80 turbines at a height of 120 m in water depth of 50 m for the Global Tech farm being constructed a few 110 kilometres away from Cuxhaven, Germany. The self – propelled vessel is proposed to load, transport and install wind turbines at offshore locations. Apart from this,the vessel will also help in the maintenance and repair of turbines. Another advantage with the advent of this vessel, is its ability to reduce assembly time during installation thereby increasing productivity.
Extensive model tests conducted by the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands(Marin) further revealed the caliber of the vessel. Its structure allows it to operate in rough seas and it could also be used in the oil and gas sectors. The ship is to have a speed of 2 knots, a powerful drive and a maximum operating draft of 7m and a minimum of 5.7m. Further, the jacking system that consists of rack and pinion would give it a jacking speed of less than 1m a minute. Tests included resistance, propulsion, sea-keeping and manoeuvering. In addition, thruster interaction tests were also used to ultimate station keeping in the conditions of wind, wave and currents.
Apart from the crane which the ship will be equipped with, also featured will be a helicopter deck suitable for a Sikorsky S92. The ship is to be constructed to accommodate 120 people inclusive of crew. The design also allows for the vessel a total lift capacity of 8000 tons. Seven wind turbines, two jackets up to 1000 tons, 4 jackets up to 600 tons- both including piles and seven monopolies of up to 500 tons can be carried.
With the introduction of the first offshore vessel and growing demand for the specialized equipment- Beluga Hochtief intends to buy a second ship. An expected increase in Offshore wind capacity to 15GW in the next six years also has led to a scope for large influx of investments. According to the EU, total investments in these projects are said to increase more than 200 billion euros by 2030.