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Steel in the Water: Foundation Installation Kicks Off for First Commercial-scale U.S. Offshore Wind Farm

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

June 9, 2023

DEME's Orion installation vessel - Credit: Vineyard Wind

DEME's Orion installation vessel - Credit: Vineyard Wind

The installation of the first monopiles and transition pieces has kicked off for the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the United States - the Vineyard Wind 1.

“We can finally say it – as of today, there is ‘steel in the water,’” said Klaus S. Moeller, CEO of Vineyard Windthe company developing the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind farm, located in a federal wind energy area 15 miles south of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and 35 miles from mainland Massachusetts.

Vineyard Wind is a joint venture between AVANGRID and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP).

Belgium-based DEME is installing the monopiles and transition pieces using its heavy-lift vessel Orion. The Orion will work with a team of ships throughout the summer installing 62 foundations in the offshore wind development area.

"With the start of the foundation installation today on the nation’s first commercial scale offshore wind farm, the windmills that will power hundreds of thousands of homes are beginning to emerge from the water, a process that is creating jobs and bring us one step closer to delivering the Commonwealth’s clean energy future,” said Ronald J. Mariano, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. 

“The House will continue to work towards making Massachusetts a national leader in the offshore wind industry, as we work to play our role in addressing the climate crisis.”

“CIP’s Vineyard Wind 1 project is taking a historic step today, one that will eventually usher in a new era of clean, renewable and affordable energy,” said Tim Evans, Partner and Head of North America for CIP.  “We’re proud to be at the forefront for the offshore wind industry in the US and look forward to bringing our leading global experience to other projects around the country.”

After receiving the first turbine components in New Bedford last week, Avangrid’s Vineyard Wind 1 project has achieved another historic milestone for offshore wind in the United States as we begin foundation installation,” said Avangrid CEO Pedro Azagra. “We’re proud that local union piledrivers are playing a critical role in the installation of the monopiles and transition pieces in the project area as we pioneer this new American industry.”

In addition to the existing crew, the vessel Orion is utilizing local union piledrivers.  The Piledrivers received special training to begin this scope of work.  As tradespeople gain additional experience in the offshore wind industry, greater employment opportunities will be created in the trades.

“The offshore wind industry has officially landed in Massachusetts waters and we’re excited for what comes next,” said Rebecca Tepper, Secretary, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “Each of these 62 platforms forms the foundation of our clean, affordable energy future. I want to congratulate the workers who are making this possible.”

Bubble Curtain

Bubble Curtain noise mitigation system ©Vineyard Wind (File image)

As part of the installation process, Vineyard Wind has also deployed the OSV Atlantic Oceanic and the Northstar Navigator to deploy a primary and secondary bubble curtain.  

A bubble curtain, which is comprised of large, perforated hoses and specialized air compressors, is designed to absorb and dampen sound during foundation installation.  The hoses are placed on the seafloor around the monopile before being filled by compress air.  Once the hoses are inflated, the air escapes through the perforations and creates a barrier of bubbles that reduce noise.

Three local fishing vessels, the F/V TORBAY, F/V SOCATEAN and the F/V KATHRYN MARIE, will be onsite to serve as safety and communication sentries. 

The project is also deploying a Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) system comprised of fixed buoys. Up to four PAMs will be used for real-time underwater acoustic monitoring during pile driving to characterize the presence of marine mammals by detecting vocalizations.  The buoys will be deployed and retrieved by the F/V BETH ANNE before mobilizing to the next foundation location.

“We look forward cooperating with all stakeholders and US partners in the construction of this first large-scale offshore wind project in US waters, including the local union workers who will participate in the installation work under the project labor agreement,” said Sid Florey, President DEME Offshore US. “DEME Offshore has contracted with local US vessels and crews to be deployed for mitigation of noise emissions as well as marine mammal observations.”

With its 800-megawatt capacity Vineyard Wind will generate electricity for more than 400,000 household and businesses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, create 3,600 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) job years, and is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking 325,000 cars off the road annually.

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