Lloyd’s Register North America, Inc. (LR) has signed an agreement for a joint development project (JDP) with Northeast Technical Services Co., Inc. (NETSCo) to design and develop a Jones Act compliant wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV).
The Jones Act, or Merchant Marine Act of 1920, requires any vessel transporting cargo between U.S. ports, or between U.S. ports and offshore facilities, to be built and flagged in the U.S. In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act which includes an amendment that would enforce Jones Act requirements for all offshore renewable energy production. This means that U.S.-built ships, flagged in the U.S., and manned by U.S. nationals will be required for the installation of wind power plants, and for the supply and service of facilities. In addition to this, last week the U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2021. This bill includes an amendment ensuring full enforcement of the Jones Act and other federal laws in offshore wind development.
As part of the JDP, NETSCo engineers and naval architects will be responsible for the concept design of the WTIV. NETSCo’s WTIV design will be focused on meeting the requirements of current developments along the U.S. East Coast and the U.S. Great Lakes such as crane capacity, deck space and water depth. Another key feature of the design is that it will use hull shapes that are common in the U.S. shipbuilding market, therefore ensuring it could be built in U.S. shipyards.
LR will review and evaluate NETSCo’s concept design to ensure the vessel complies with applicable rules and regulations. LR’s team of technical compliance experts will also evaluate the design against international codes and standards and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs).
Jan Flores, Vice President of NETSCo, commented: “The lack of Jones Act-qualified compliant wind turbine installation vessels has become a major challenge for offshore wind turbine developers. With years of research and development in this industry, it is a perfect opportunity for us to leverage our engineering expertise in a strong collaborative enterprise with LR. This collaboration was a cumulation of efforts to better support the offshore wind turbine market with a Jones Act-qualified vessel alternative, as well as offering conversion options for vessels that have been dry-docked during this economic downturn. We look forward to our continued work with LR for their guidance and expertise in classification, compliance and advisory services in the offshore industry.”
Rafael Riva, LR’s Americas Marine & Offshore Commercial Manager, said: “The offshore wind industry is expected to see exponential growth in the United States. There are currently no U.S.-built wind turbine installation vessels, and if the sector takes off as expected, there will be a pressing requirement for such vessels. What truly sets LR apart is our in-depth understanding of specific port logistics to handle WTIVs, from the significant advisory work undertaken for some of the designated U.S. East Coast ports and how this will impact the optimal operation of these vessels in the specific environment. This collaboration with NETSCo to develop a Jones Act compliant wind turbine installation vessel represents an essential development to support the U.S. offshore wind industry.”