U.S.-based Great Lakes Dredge & Dock is developing a first-of-its-kind vessel to support America’s burgeoning offshore wind industry.

The nation’s largest dredging services provider announced Thursday it is working with Ulstein Design and Solutions B.V. to design and develop the first U.S.-flagged Jones Act compliant, inclined fallpipe vessel for subsea rock installation. The specialized vessel would be built at a U.S. Gulf Coast shipyard and could be operational as early as the first quarter of 2024, GLDD said. 

The company said it sees the vessel as a critical advancement in building the future of the new U.S. offshore wind industry, including establishing a U.S.-based rock supply chain network spanning eastern seaboard states with active offshore wind leases. While the EPA Tier 4 compliant vessel would initially serve the East Coast, GLDD believes it will be available as offshore wind projects develop along the Gulf and West Coasts.

GLDD said its expertise in dredging, marine engineering, specialized vessel design and offshore operations help to position the 130+ year old company for a move into offshore wind. Last month the firm announced it will relocate its corporate headquarters to Houston, citing market opportunities in offshore wind among other reasons.

“U.S. offshore wind’s potential growth could be a true economic stimulus for America. We believe this is the optimal time for us to leverage our extensive specialized vessel expertise to enter this exciting market now coming to the United States,” said Lasse Petterson, GLDD’s chief executive officer and president. “We are initiating this project because we firmly believe that a Jones Act compliant offshore wind subsea rock installation vessel is a critical foundational piece required to advance the U.S. offshore wind energy industry. We are committed to safe and sustainable operations and excited to make history with this landmark vessel.

“We look forward to playing a key role in developing this new industry on the eastern seaboard that will provide multidimensional benefits to our nation,” Petterson said. “The full potential direct, indirect and induced economic benefits of offshore wind development have yet to be calculated because the various aspects and value of the supply chain are still unknown and yet to be developed. The potential impacts are staggering.”

“We applaud GLDD’s foresight and decisive action in entering this potentially transformative new industry in its early days. Their new vessel will complete another major piece of the offshore wind industry puzzle,” said Liz Burdock, CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind. “This milestone brings our nation one step closer to realizing the substantial benefits from clean energy including the economic growth from projects, supply chain development, and job creation.”

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