The first ever offshore wind installation work has begun in the US state of New York with the piercing of the Long Island coastline to create a pathway for South Fork Wind’s export cable to reach the shoreside grid.
The Jill, a 180-foot (54 metres) by 130-foot jack-up vessel built by Gulf Island Marine Fabricators and owned by Seacor Marine, both Louisiana-based, is being deployed for directional drilling and conduit construction along the coastline beside Wainscott, Easthampton.
South Fork, owned by a joint venture of Danish developer Orsted and New England utility Eversource, is the US' second utility-scale project to be fully permitted and begin construction after Vineyard Wind off Massachusetts.
Jill features three towering legs that at full extension are each taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour, allowing it to rise above stormy seas and work in a wide range of weather conditions.
Typically used in the Gulf of Mexico oil & gas sector, Jill will be supported by four support vessels, including tugboats and crew transfer vessels for its first foray into offshore wind.
Orsted estimates that as many as 30 vessels, most of them US-flagged, will be used for the installation of the 132MW South Fork array.
“Considering the number of subsequent offshore wind projects in the pipeline and the increasing scale of future projects, it’s clear that the demand for US vessels will exponentially increase in coming years,” said Troy Patton, head of programme execution in the Americas for Orsted.
South Fork is just the first of a series of far larger offshore wind projects lining up to supply New York with green power, with gigascale developments from the Equinor-BP joint venture set to follow. New York has some 4.3GW under contract on the way towards the 2035 mandate for 9GW, with round three tender for at least 2GW expected early next year.