Posted on May 15, 2023
With demand continuing to grow for vessels to support the offshore wind industry and analysts projecting a need for more vessels, the UK’s North Star has entered into an additional building contract with Fincantieri’s Vard Shipyard headquartered in Norway. The contract is for two uniquely designed methanol-ready Commissioning Service Operation Vessels (CSOVs) with an option for up to two more vessels.
North Star, which already has the largest wholly UK-owned fleet engaged in the North Sea reports with the support of private equity investors Partner Group, they have the financial support to continue to grow to meet the needs of the offshore industry. In December 2022, North Star announced it had secured a nearly $177 million financing package to support the next phase of its offshore wind growth plan.
Acquired by Partners Group in January 2022, North Star is working to expand its presence in the offshore wind energy sector providing infrastructure support services as well as its legacy business in the offshore oil and gas markets. The firm has announced plans to deliver 40 offshore wind ships by 2040 to meet the evolving demands of offshore wind operations and maintenance (O&M) logistical support across the UK and Europe.
The hulls of the first two new vessels will be built at one of Vard’s yards in Romania. Outfitting, commissioning, and delivery will be from one of the yards in Norway. The first vessel is scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2025.
The vessels are based on Vard’s 4 22 design and in collaboration with Vard Design in Ålesund, Norway, they have been customized to North Star’s plans for the offshore wind industry. They feature the latest hull design which is being optimized for low fuel consumption and resistance as well as high operability and comfort. The design is prepared for future operations on methanol and will be equipped with Vard’s technology for power management and for utilizing battery technology for hybrid operations.
Each of the CSOVs will measure approximately 311 feet in length with a beam of 64 feet. According to North Star, the CSOVs are highly versatile platforms for all offshore wind farm support operations, focusing on onboard logistics, comfort, large storage capacities, and superior operability. They will feature state-of-the-art DP2 position and seakeeping systems and have a maximum transit speed of 14 knots.
North Star increased the number of single cabins aboard the vessels and will provide hotel-quality accommodations for wind farm technicians while working in the field. Each ship will have 95 cabins with accommodations for 111 persons.
Vard emphasizes that the order is another step as the shipbuilder moves to further strengthen its position in this segment of the offshore market. The latest order from North Star follows a 2021 order of four SOV newbuilds from Vard in Vietnam. Fincantieri reports that the first three ships from the earlier order will commence operations this year, ahead of schedule, with the final vessel to be delivered in 2024.
North Star has a long-term charter agreement for the SOVs. They will be used to support the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Dogger Bank, being developed off the coast of the UK by partners Equinor, SSE Renewables, and Eni. North Star won contracts to support all three phases of the wind farm. The 10-year agreements, with extension options, mark the company’s entry into the offshore wind business.