Wavecraft secures first UK charter

Tidal transit secures their first UK charter for the Umoe Firmus. Statkraft have entered six month charter agreement, with a longer-term extension option, which covers the use of the WaveCraft to transport its O&M turbine technicians into its Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm field.

The 317MW Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm is located from 9-17 miles off the coast of North Norfolk in the southern North Sea, and Umoe Firmus will operate from the port of Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk where the wind farm's O&M base is located.

The WaveCraft is a Surface Effect Ship [SES] which uses an air cushion between its catamaran hulls to lift 80% of the vessel out of the water. The small draught that this creates provides the vessel with easy access to ports, and enables it to travel at high speeds [40 knots] whilst maintaining a low fuel consumption resulting in a range of more than 700 nautical miles.
Importantly, managing the pressure of the air cushion according to wave height allows for smoother voyages and provides a greatly increased opportunity for access to turbines - up to wave heights of 2.5 metres, or even higher in a swell.

Tidal Transit Commercial Director Leo Hambro said: "By the time Umoe Firmus goes into service in February 2016, the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm will have been fully operational for over three years.

"During that time it has used a variety of vessels operating from the Outer Harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea to access the wind farm field, including 3 of our own Personnel Transfer Vessels, so Statkraft will be able to compare the WaveCraft's performance with its considerable vessel data and experience to date."

On behalf of Sheringham Shoal, Plant Manager Jason Halsey says: "As the operator of Sheringham Shoal, we are constantly looking at innovative ways to increase availability and lower the cost of operations for the owners. The combination of cutting edge technology and reliable partnership with Tidal Transit will enable us to extract the value we need from this charter. I am sure that all the other offshore wind farm projects in which Statkraft is involved will be keen to learn of Sheringham Shoal's experiences with WaveCraft."

Later this year Tidal Transit crews will be undergoing operational training on the WaveCraft vessel which is being used at the Borkum Riffgrund Wind Farm off the coast of Germany. "They are greatly looking forward to being back at Sheringham Shoal next year," comments Leo Hambro.

The 317MW Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, which is operated by Statkraft, is situated between 9-17 miles off the coast of North Norfolk, and in 2014 its 88 wind turbines produced 1088GWh, sufficient electricity for 260,000 UK homes.