The Empire Offshore Wind joint venture between Equinor and BP has awarded a long-term service operations vessel charter agreement to marine transportation provider Edison Chouest Offshore for US offshore wind operations.

The contract — awarded as Empire Wind begins development of a wind farm spanning 80,000 acres to the south-east of Long Island — will involve deployment of a plug-in hybrid service operations vessel (SOV) capable of sailing partly on battery power.

Jone Act-compliant

The US-flagged vessel will be constructed with components from 34 different US states and operate out of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) in New York, according to Equinor. It will be built in compliance with local content rules imposed by the US Jones Act.

"The vessel will accommodate up to 60 wind turbine technicians and will be utilised for the safe and efficient operations and maintenance of 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," Equinor stated.

Edison Chouest Offshore is currently recruiting and training vessel crew from the New York region.

The state-of-the-art vessel described by Equinor is certified to the highest standards for marine emissions applications and will be the first in the US capable of sailing on battery power for portions of the route.

The Empire Wind lease was acquired in 2017 and encompasses a project of two phases leading to a total installed capacity of more than 2 gigawatts.

Equinor and BP are currently investing in port upgrades to turn the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) into a modern offshore wind staging and assembling facility and to become the operations and maintenance (O&M) base for the project developers.