Danish offshore wind installation company Swire Blue Ocean (SBO) is set to expand its fleet and upgrade the existing wind farm installation vessels with new cranes, to future proof its business given that the offshore wind turbines keep getting bigger.

The company plans to order a next-generation wind farm installation vessel with an option for a second new-build. It is also looking to upgrade its existing vessels Pacific Osprey and Pacific Orca with new cranes.

Providing rationale for the planned investment, Swire Blue Ocean said the move would make the company ready for the installation of next-generation wind turbines over the coming decade and beyond. 

“Offshore wind turbines continue to scale up, and this planned investment will keep SBO at the forefront of this fast-moving industry,” SBO said.

Mikkel Gleerup, CEO of SBO said: “I am proud to announce that our organization has put in the hard work to understand the challenges the industry faces and is now equipped to deliver a solution which will prevent a supply chain bottleneck when new turbine models reach the market in the mid-2020s.”

To remind, Siemens Gamesa has recently announced it will start making the world’s largest wind turbines starting in 2024. The company in May unveiled a new SG 14-222 DD offshore Direct Drive wind turbine with a 222-meter diameter rotor, 108-meter long blades, and a 39,000 m2 swept area, with up to 15-megawatt (MW) capacity.

Capacity not seen before

For the new vessel, SBO said it has shortlisted several  international shipyards for the order of a new Wind Farm Installation Vessel (WIV) “with capacities unseen in the industry up to now.”

The planning process began in April 2019, SBO said, and the CEO is confident that the company has designed a highly competitive asset, able to work on the most difficult sites, with the largest equipment in the industry.

The vessel design, created in partnership with GustoMSC, is a bespoke version of the NG-20000X-G design, with multiple customizations based on SBO’s decade of experience in the industry, SBO said.

“It has been key for us to deliver an asset that can grow with the industry, but also offer a cost base that is attractive in the market,” says Janus Joensen, Head of Engineering and R&D. “We have collected significant data over the last decade and by building these learnings into the design we hope to bring material benefits to our customers.”

New cranes for the existing fleet

While looking ahead at the new vessels, the company is also looking to boost the capacity of its current fleet.

The company says that it has, over the past year, run engineering studies in order to understand how far it could extend the capabilities of its existing “O-class” vessels.

“SBO focused on defining the optimum design for Swire Blue Ocean A/S replacing the main cranes on its WIVs, considering both the needs of the future market and the vessels’ technical potential,” SBO said.

The company has now developed a crane that is designed to provide an overturning moment of 100,000 t/m, while maintaining the vessels’  capacity to jack up on difficult sites and weather treacherous offshore conditions. 

“The main cranes are designed to provide up to 1600 tonnes of lifting capacity with a 155 m hook height above deck. These specifications are expected to meet the requirements for installation of all turbine models currently under development and allow for the continued growth of turbine components,” SBO said.

The company said that the installation of the new cranes is scheduled to start in Q4 2023. It did not say when exactly it would place the order for the new vessel.

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