The ship is expected to be sea-ready by late 2023 and will adhere to the Jones Act, a century-old law that goods transported between U.S. ports be carried on domestically built and crewed ships. Ørsted and Eversource will charter the $500 million vessel to build two offshore wind farms that will power nearly a million homes in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, according to a statement on Tuesday.
The companies expect it to help expedite installation of wind farms in U.S. waters, which would advance President Biden’s goal for 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. Without a Jones Act-compliant vessel, installing an offshore wind farm requires staging the materials in Canada or using feeder ships that bring the materials out to the installation vessel, said Dominion spokesman Jeremy Slayton. Both methods are slower and more expensive.
“It’s really a huge vote of confidence for the industry,” said Søren Lassen, head of offshore wind research at Wood Mackenzie. He added that building a Jones Act-compliant ship shows there is a healthy pipeline of offshore projects in the pipeline. “It’ll certainly help Biden and the U.S. realize their targets.”
Dominion also plans to use the 472-foot ship on its own offshore projects, including its 180-turbine wind farm about 30 miles from Virginia Beach. The vessel is named Charybdis after the sea monster of Greek mythology and is currently being built in a shipyard in Brownsville, Texas.
“A Jones Act-qualified installation vessel is a game-changer for the development of the U.S. offshore wind industry,” David Hardy, chief executive officer of Ørsted Offshore North America, said in the statement. “This investment will enable us to unlock the economic benefits of offshore wind, not just for the Northeast, but for the Southern states as well.”