The first of three 27 metre Austal wind farm support vessels has successfully completed sea trials at Austal’s Philippine shipyard and is heading to Europe, where it will commence operations for Turbine Transfers.
Christened Church Bay, the first Wind Express 27 catamaran will arrive in the UK in late April 2014 and commence operations shortly thereafter. Turbine Transfers has confirmed that the vessel will operate off the German Coast under contract with Dong Energy.
Turbine Transfers is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Holyhead Towing Company, which has been operating work boats since the early 1960s. Its long term customers include Siemens, RWE NPower, Van Oord, Dong Energy, EnBW and Royal Boskalis Westminster.
Managing Director of Turbine Transfers, Captain Mark Meade, said: “We have been very happy with the previous three 21 metre Wind Express vessels built by Austal and we have high expectations for the new larger 27 metre craft. Church Bay performed well on trials and met all performance expectations.”
Joey Turano, President and General Manager of Austal’s Philippine Shipyard Operations, said the vessel had been specifically designed for operation in rough sea conditions.
“We have built on the experience in designing and constructing the smaller 21 metre sister at the Philippines shipyard to ensure the Wind Express 27 provides stability and fuel efficiency through its highly-refined catamaran hull form, requiring less power and fuel to meet operational requirements,” Mr Turano said.
“Given the high tunnel height and Austal’s advanced Z-bow chine hull form, the vessel is able to operate at speeds of around 30 knots with targeted seakeeping ability in up to two metres significant wave height. Church Bay also has a four engine arrangement with four independent drive trains, which is believed to be unique in the wind farm support vessel market and provides an unparalleled degree of operational efficiency,” added Mr Turano.
With a trial’s deadweight of 12.5 tonnes, Church Bay achieved a top speed of 31.4 knots and a comfortable cruising speed in the range of 26-27 knots.
The vessel has four Caterpillar C18 diesel engines rated at 553kW at 2,100 rpm each drive a Rolls Royce 36 A3 waterjets. The advantage of the four engine installation with each engine driving its own waterjet is redundancy.
In trials, with one engine shut down Church Bay achieved 24.2 knots and with only one drive train operational in each hull the catamaran still achieved a sustainable speed of 13 knots.
In addition to incorporating the proven features of hull shape and high tunnel that have been fundamental to the success of the three earlier 21 metre vessels achieving an exemplary reputation as excellent rough weather boats, the latest 27 metre design also incorporates the option for fitting a pair of fixed T-foils.
The 27m Wind Express vessel’s practical arrangement enables comfortable transits for up to 12 wind farm personnel, with a high quality interior fit-out, good visibility, and ample fore and aft cargo stowage space.
It also has accommodation for up to eight crew in a live-aboard, four-cabin arrangement with bunks located on the main deck aft of the passenger saloon.
The subsequent 27 metre vessels in the three-vessel contract, Mill Bay and Bull Bay, are expected to be loaded for transportation to Europe later this month.
Austal, April 14, 2014