Dominion announces construction has begun on offshore wind vessel
Vessel will be used in construction of utility's massive wind farm off coast of Virginia Beach
Dominion Energy Inc. announced Wednesday that construction has begun on the utility’s new vessel that will ferry the workers and huge components needed for its planned buildout of the largest offshore wind farm in the country off the coast of Virginia Beach.
Named Charybdis after the sea monster from Greek mythology, Dominion’s U.S.-flagged ship will carry the materials and assist in construction of the wind farm’s more than 180 wind turbines, which will be visible 800 feet above sea level. The vessel, which will be the first of its kind in the nation, will cost an estimated $500 million, not including financial costs.
The vessel will be 472 feet long, 184 feet wide, 38 feet deep, and will be made of 14,000 tons of steel. Once it reaches its intended destination, the vessel will plant four legs into the ocean floor, jack itself above the waves, then use a crane with a 426-foot boom to stand up each of the 800-foot wind turbines planned for the project. Each turbine should take about three days to erect.
“It’s one of the largest vessels of its type in the world. There are very few vessels in the world that can install these next-generation turbines,” says Mark Mitchell, senior vice president of project construction for Dominion.
Global marine shipbuilding firm Keppel AmFELS has already begun construction on Charybdis in Brownsville, Texas, with an expected completion by the end of 2023. Construction is expected to create 700 direct jobs. Once in operation, the vessel will be available for charter hire, including by Dominion, subject to approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
The vessel can hold up to 119 people, including somewhere between 20 and 30 maritime crew and 30 to 100 wind turbine workers, depending on the vessel’s mission at the time. While Dominion doesn’t have concrete numbers on the economic impact the vessel will have, it will be docked in Hampton Roads, though officials said they couldn’t yet disclose where.
Last year, Dominion announced its plan to erect the $7.8 billion offshore wind farm 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach that would generate 2,640 megawatts using more than 180 turbines. In October, Dominion successfully completed reliability testing for its initial twin-turbine, 12-megawatt, $300 million Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) pilot project, the first phase in the wind farm’s construction. Construction on the wind farm is expected to begin in 2024 and to be completed by 2026.
For the pilot, Dominion used the Vole-au-Vent, a vessel registered in Luxembourg, to ferry construction materials for the turbines after shuttling them south from Nova Scotia. However, due to the Jones Act, a century-old federal law, wind turbines taken from a U.S. port to another port or place inside of U.S. waters must be ferried by a U.S.-flagged vessel.