Empire Offshore Wind, a joint venture betweenEdison Chouest Energy Wind Offshore Equinor and BP, has reached a long-term charter agreement that will see Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) provide a plug-in hybrid service operations vessel (SOV) for the Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2 offshore wind farms. The charter agreement has a fixed period of 10 years, with commencement in the mid-2020s.

The SOV will be the first in the U.S. offshore wind sector capable of sailing partly on battery power and, indeed, is only the second U.S.-flag SOV to be announced. Edison Chouest will also deliver the first, the ECO Edison, which is currently under construction at ECO shipyards located in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. That vessel is set for delivery in 2024 and will then immediately provide operational support out of Port Jefferson, New York, for Ørsted and Eversource’s joint venture offshore wind portfolio.

The plug-in hybrid SOV that Chouest will operate for Empire Wind will accommodate up to 60 wind turbine technicians. It will be Jones Act compliant and have its home port at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) in New York. The SOV will be constructed with components from ECO’s extensive supplier base across 34 U.S, states. Chouest estimates that this will generate over 250 high-skilled U.S. jobs during vessel construction. The company is also dedicating considerable effort and resources to recruiting and training vessel crew from the New York region and will operate the vessel from its New York office.

The plug-in hybrid vessel will be the first in the U.S. capable of sailing on battery power for portions of the route. The SOV will sail into the port of SBMT on battery power, recharge the battery using shore power and sail out of New York Harbor. The hybrid vessel will be certified to Tier 4 emissions standards.

“Equinor and BP’s agreement with Edison Chouest will generate ripple effects throughout the supply chain, creating jobs in numerous states across the country” says Teddy Muhlfelder, vice president, Empire Wind and Beacon Wind, Equinor. “With the first of its kind, plug-in hybrid service operations vessel, Empire Wind will reduce potential emissions from our operations in the New York City area. This is another critical step forward in the development of the offshore wind industry, while helping achieve critical state and federal climate goals.”

“Edison Chouest Offshore will provide a state-of-the-art vessel fit for Empire Wind. We selected Edison Chouest in part for its extensive experience and expertise as a shipbuilder and we look forward to a collaboration beginning with construction and continuing through operations for the next decade or more. This is an important step in our efforts to develop a domestic supply chain in the US for offshore wind,” says Mette H. Ottøy, chief procurement officer, Equinor. Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) has started construction of what will be the first Jones Act-qualified offshore wind farm service operations vessel (SOV) to be built in the United States.

The Jones Act SOV, which will be named ECO Edison, is being built at ECO in-house shipyards located in Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, creating well over 300 new jobs, with components of the vessel being manufactured across 12 states including Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. On delivery in 2024, ECO Edison will immediately start providing operational support out of Port Jefferson, N.Y., for Ørsted and Eversource’s joint venture offshore wind portfolio, which includes South Fork Wind, Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind.

The vessel, which will be over 260 feet long and capable of housing 60 crew members, will be utilized during the operation & maintenance (O&M) phases of offshore wind farm projects, serving as an at sea base of operations to accommodate and transfer technicians, tools and parts safely to and from the individual wind turbine generators.

“This new vessel will be the first of its kind in the United States and play a crucial role in the growth of America’s offshore wind industry,” said David Hardy, Chief Executive Officer of Ørsted Offshore North America. “We’re proud to work with companies like Edison Chouest Offshore to support good-paying jobs in states across the country as we build a new energy future.”

Orders for Jones Act offshore wind crew transfer vessels are starting to tick upwards. Last week, Vineyard Wind, a joint venture between Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners reported it had signed a charter for a CTV with Patriot Offshore Maritime Services.