Offshore wind

Keppel Begins Construction on First Jones Act-Compliant Offshore Wind Turbine Installation Vessel

The first offshore wind turbine installation vessel in the US is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Dominion Energy offshore wind turbine installation
Dominion Energy

The first wind turbine installation vessel compliant with the US Jones Act is being built by Keppel Offshore & Marine for Richmond, Virginia-based Dominion Energy.

The Jones Act is the common name for federal laws that regulate maritime commerce in the US and require goods shipped between US ports to be transported on ships that are built, owned, and operated by US citizens or permanent residents.

Work on the vessel, to be named Charybdis (the name of a sea monster in Greek mythology), began 16 December with a keel-laying ceremony—when fabrications from the first steel, supplied domestically, were laid to form the first part of the keel.

Keppel AmFELS is building the vessel, scheduled for 2023 delivery, in its Brownsville, Texas, shipyard and will base operations out of Hampton Roads, Virginia. It will be available for charter hire to offshore wind developers to support the installation of more than 5 GW of planned offshore wind generation off the east coast through 2027 and beyond.

The $500-million effort furthers the development of a domestic manufacturing supply chain to support the multi-gigawatt opportunity for zero-carbon electricity generation in US waters.

One of the largest of its kind in the world, the vessel’s hull will be 472 ft long, 184 ft wide, and 38 ft deep. The infrastructure will use more than 14,000 tons of domestic steel, with nearly 10,000 tons sourced from Alabama and West Virginia suppliers, for its hull and infrastructure.

Huisman will fabricate the main crane to be used on the vessel. The crane has a boom length of 426 ft and an expected lifting capacity of 2,200 tons. The vessel will accommodate up to 119 people.

The vessel, designed by GustoMSC, a business unit of NOV, will handle current turbine technologies as well as next-generation turbine sizes of 12 MW or larger and will be capable of installing foundations for turbines and other heavy lifts.

"NOV is proud to be part of this historic effort to harness offshore wind to power the US electrical grid," said NOV CEO Clay Williams. "We are pleased to be partnering with Dominion Energy, Seajacks, and Keppel AmFELS to develop the first jackup vessel for the US market purpose-built to install offshore wind turbines."

“This is a monumental step for the offshore wind industry in America,” Robert M. Blue, Dominion’s president and CEO, said. “Dominion Energy is proud to be leading a consortium of respected industry participants in the construction of the first Jones Act-compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel, which will provide significant American jobs, and provide a reliable, home-grown installation solution with the capacity to handle the next generation of large-scale, highly efficient turbine technologies.”

According to a report by The American Wind Energy Association, the US Department of Energy found the US could develop 86 GW of offshore wind projects by 2050. Project developers expect 14 offshore wind projects totaling 9,112 MW to be operational by 2026. States are driving strong demand for offshore wind energy and had established over 29,100 MW of offshore wind procurement targets as of September 2020.

Offshore wind generation is part of Dominion's strategy to meet standards outlined in the Virginia Clean Economy Act and to achieve the company's net-zero CO2 and methane emissions commitment by 2050.