ABB TechTalks: U.S. Offshore Wind Vessels - Building a Sustainable Fleet for a Sustainable World

Recorded webinar

United States Energy Secretary Granholm recently announced an ambitious goal of achieving 30GW Offshore Wind Deployment by 2030. An important aspect of developing new offshore wind farms are the specialty vessels that build and service those farms.

This panel discussion will feature leading experts providing a unique perspective on building a sustainable fleet. Critical questions such as current shipyard capacity in United States, Jones Act compliance, and how to properly adapt green vessels successfully designed in regions like Europe and Asia to the complex structure of United States. 

Join us to learn how our panelists see the path moving forward on our upcoming webinar: US Offshore Wind Vessels - Building a Sustainable Fleet for a Sustainable World.


US Offshore Wind Vessels - Building a Sustainable Fleet for a Sustainable World 

  • 30 GW by 2030 – what does that mean for your industry?
  • What are the critical factors to overcome in order to achieve 30 GW by 2030?
    • Does US have the shipyard capacity needed?
    • Is adapting European design to comply with US regulations the best approach?
    • Does U.S. have workforce skilled in the latest sustainable technology?
    • US flag Jones Act - higher price tag?
    • And much more

David Lee - ABBABB_Logo Dave Lee
ABB Marine & Ports

Dave Lee is responsible for overseeing and leading all sales initiative for the workboat industry and marine construction. His expanded role includes management of the offshore wind segment, where he is responsible for the segment development throughout North and South America. With a particular focus on implementation of sustainable solutions for offshore construction and support vessels, Mr. Lee continues to educate the market on environmental demands. With the long awaited expansion of offshore wind farms, the need of sustainable vessels are inevitable in United States due to the Jones Act. The vessels needed for offshore construction and support vessels requires unique expertise, and Mr. Lee is specially skilled in all aspects of hybrid and electric system integration.

Nick Prokopuk - DNVDNV_logo_RGB Nick Prokopuk

Mr. Prokopuk is the Business Development Manager for DNV Region Americas Maritime based in Houston and is responsible for the Special Ships and Offshore Wind segments within North America. His passion for the U.S. offshore wind industry inspired Nick to launch a vlog series, #AskNickAboutOffshoreWind, where he discusses topics important to the development of the industry in the United States, including infrastructure, regulations, turbine maintenance, the vessels needed to support the market, etc. Through his vlog series, Nick has become a spokesperson and champion for the vessel segment essential to the growth of the U.S. Offshore Wind Industry. Nick has worked in the Maritime, Oil & Gas, and Petrochemical industries since 2000 and held a variety of positions in engineering, management, and business development during that time. A graduate of the University of Houston, Nick holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and joined DNV in 2012.



Jeff Andreini - Crowley

Crowley_logoJeff Andreini

Jeff Andreini has a 41-year career with Crowley Marine Services having worked for them on the USWC, USEC, and GOM. Throughout his tenure at Crowley, Mr. Andreini has worked both in operations and administration responsible for the management of USWC tug commercial operations, global strategic development, finance & accounting for various divisions, CFO for Crowley’s marine salvage joint venture, and his current role as Vice President of New Energy. In Mr. Andreini’s new position, he is responsible for the global development of renewable energy including offshore wind and Crowley’s current LNG business in Puerto Rico. Mr. Andreini as a Finance Degree from California State University East Bay and an MBA from Seattle City University

Mike Holcombkeppel_OM_logoMike Holcomb
Keppel Offshore & Marine 

Mike Holcomb graduated from US Merchant Marine Academy in 1976 with a BS in Marine Engineering. He worked as a Test And Trials engineer at the Ingalls Shipbuilding and sailed as a Licensed Engineer on US Merchant vessels. Furthermore, he joined Keppel Offshore and Marine in 1991 and has worked in several Business Development roles and is currently Sr VP Marketing.


Myra Shannon-FullerDNV_logo_RGB Myra Shannon-Fuller

Ms. Shannon-Fuller is a maritime professional with more than a decade of experience in the industry, Myra is passionate about fostering relationships and building connections through communications. Myra joined DNV in 2012 and in her current capacity, supports DNV Region Americas Maritime in achieving it’s strategic and tactical goals by developing and implementing integrated communications strategies and plans through outreach and industry engagement. Myra is a graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy with a BSc in International Maritime Business.


1 hour




  • U.S. Offshore Wind Vessel Operators
  • Naval Architects
  • Shipyards
  • Local & Federal U.S. Government


Q&A from the webinar

Is there a necessity to build completely new SOVs? Especially with them being so expensive, is it not economically viable to convert older US oilfield vessels that are capable of the work?

Conversions are possible and, in some cases, fit better with the type of project. However, we have seen a growing expectation from operators that new builds are realized due to continuously growing demand of wind farms and ever-growing vessel spec. In the decade of transformations, a conversion could result quite costly if we were to implement systems related to data analysis, performance optimization and predictive maintenance - all of which are expectations for these vessels.

Many operators have looked at that possibility only to find they need to retrofit the entire vessel to meet the specification from the Wind Farm Operators. Modifications include hybrid power, comfort class accommodations, walk to work gangways, etc.

Based on your current expectations, about what share of the market will U.S. feeder vessels and foreign-flag WTIVs capture in the installation phase?

Based on latest information, we see roughly 60% of the market serviced by feedering and 40% serviced by JA WTIVs. 

Do you see a shortage in steel coming, considering the number of vessels needed in addition to the amount of metal needed to manufacture a turbine and supporting equipment/facilities?

We have not seen any problem with steel supply and do not expect any major impacts in the offshore wind segment. US Steel manufacturer support both, commercial and military programs. Jacket s/ monopiles and steel or the turbines can be foreign sourced.

It takes quite a while to build a single vessel so the steel demand per week/ month is not the great compared to a high-volume shipyard. There will be the added demand from turbine manufacturing but if you look at the U.S. steel manufacturing history, we have had periods of high steel demand and the capacity is there currently.

Mike, how much of the equipment going into the WTIV you are building are coming for outside the US?

Major equipment such as engines, thrusters and DP systems are foreign supplied and, in some cases, the entire marine package can be foreign supplied.

One of the big problems in O&G is that vessel supply and demand was/is cyclic. How is Offshore Wind going to learn from this and NOT over build?

A US built Jones Act vessel is much more expensive than a foreign built unit. It would be difficult to find economical rewarding work overseas for such a unit. That creates a high barrier for entry in the US market. International is another problem and faces the same overbuilding dilemma as O&G.

In the offshore wind industry the SOVs and WTIVs will have some much longer terms on lease and because of this it will place a cautious approach on speculative building.

Collaboration and solutions thinking will be key. How to utilize current assets so as not to increase existing tonnage and working with OEM/Developers to derive outside of the box solutions that are more efficient for the industry and cost effective

What role do the Wind developers need to take to support?

The wind developer is near the top of the food chain in this industry as their requirements are being pushed down throughout the vessels that are being priced. With this the developer requirements are aligned with the goals of offshore wind at its base which is sustainability.

Do most of you foresee the Professional Mariner for these special purpose vessels having a similar crew hierarchy to a drill ship? I.e., ship captain (and subordinates), chief engineer (and subordinates) then "Program Manager" and the other personnel who are the "turbine" specialist? Seems like much of the crewing will be able to draw from the oil patch.

I would say that crew component is the same except for daughter craft operators. The one thing to keep in mind is that crews will need to be local (ie. Empire Wind SOV crew will need to come from New York and not Houston). 

What are the business model for OW vessels, who is financing and at what terms. Developers may lease but for how long and then what afterwards. Thanks Michael D

The business model for the CTV/SOV is one of longterm contracts with options thereafter -- CTVs 7-10 years and SOVs 10-15. Financing will come from banks or other private firms interested in entering the industry. The hope is that MARAD Title XI financing could get involved as well. The challenge of the longterm viability of the vessel as technologies change will be interesting. Getting 25 year lives from these vessels will be key so as to not over burden the industry with excess tonnage.

How can we help from the Canadian Perspective?

Canada has some interesting possibilities for offshore wind, and it will drive a need on the global offshore wind market. As far as what can be done to assist the U.S. it is very limited. The industry is driven from state and federal levels so there is a lot of demand for local and U.S. content. Also, this industry is being looked at as a U.S. economy driver so keeping driving the economy starts from within in and thus the local requirements.

What is Keppel’s capacity for building WTIVs? How many more can you build simultaneously with the Dominion vessel? 2) can Crowley comment on ownership structure for their SOV joint venture w/Esvagt for Jones act compliance? Is it going to be 100% owned by Crowley, 51% Crowley/49% Esvagt, etc?

Maybe start one a year given the needed engineering and major equipment supply chain.

The Crowley/ESVAGT relationship is a fully qualified 51/49 relationship between Crowley and ESVAGT respectively. 

Can you identify or expand upon specific training needs from the academies to prepare future graduates to crew these vessels? CAPT George Edenfield USMMA

Our maritime academies are uniquely set up to provide both mariner training and GWO certified offshore wind training. Today, Mass Maritime and RelyOn-Nutec are providing same to the state of MA and Maine Maritime is looking to stand up same in ME. This is a great opportunity to expand the curriculum for the students plus offer the citizens of each state the opportunity to learn, grow, and be a part of this expanding industry.

How much GW-capacity do you think is realistic to build in the US by 2030 (knowing we're in - 21, and very few projects are sanctioned)??

That is a very difficult question. There are groups doing great work to get us moving in the right direction and it will be an output of all the work that is currently being put in. It is so difficult to say how much capacity but as we see work begin everyone is watching to see how fast the U.S. can be.

It is expected that the 1st WTIV will go to work in 2024 so it has 7 years of work through 2030. 100 turbines a year equals 700. Next vessel start one year apart gives you 600 and so forth 500 then 400. That’s 2200 with 4 WTIV vessels. A fifth one will give you the 2500. Doable I believe.

Will any shipbuilders try to gain advantage by using advanced welding technology? For example, friction stir welding has been touted for Al. Might this be a choice for CTVs? Is it worth the investment considering the coming offshore wind industry?

Yes, any yard with a major backlog will seek cost reduction processes. It’s up to the suppliers to make their products and techniques known to the industry.

What are the fuels going to be for the support vessels? will it rely on ULSDO or an alternative fuel such as LNG or Ammonia? 

The vessels that will be built first will still have a reliance on diesel for the main power. With that there is a heavy push to also install batteries or even fuel cells to some capacity to limit the amount of diesel that will be burned. There will be a transition over the coming years to further transition away from diesel to ammonia, hydrogen, etc. but these technologies still need some development before they will completely replace diesel.

I believe that initially you will see ULSDO but this will rapidly change in roughly 5-7 years beginning with CTVs which we believe will be battery powered. Eventually, SOVs will also change fuel source and that could be a bridge fuel at first but will slowly change to another source which we think could be hydrogen. 

Do you see decarbonization having a larger impact on the new vessel designs making them more complex than existing approaches? 

Hybrid and Zero emission vessels exist today so it is not new technology. Becoming more accepted and easier to install.

Decarbonization will have a large impact on the vessels that are currently being considered; however, the complexity of the vessel is a different answer. As these vessels become more electric at the base design it enables the vessel to become more digital thus connected at all times. You can operate, troubleshoot, and monitor the vessel remotely and thus increase the uptime. Also you are readily connected to the crew through installed systems such as ABB's Remote Diagnostic Services and because of this the crew doesn't bear the load of the troubleshooting or operational demands that traditional vessels require.

As with anything new, the cost will be more expensive the first time being build but we see the lessons learned bringing down the expenses as time moves forward.

How can outside vendors such as material processors and fabricators assist in this supply chain challenge? Who should we get a hold of to introduce our services?

From shipyard side we always use outside fabricators when the yard load exceeds capacity. Meet with marketing, commercial and production departments.

Every state that is participating in offshore wind has a supply chain portal. Business Network for Offshore Wind is another great resource. 

Do you foresee a large demand for Uncrewed vessels in this industry?

This question depends on if you are talking about ROVs or autonomous operation of the vessels that are being built today. There will be a need for ROVs in rock installation vessels and for floating wind in days to come. In regard to autonomous vessels we have a way to go but there are systems being specified that is starting the journey to autonomy such as lookout assistance and auto docking. These technologies will continue to develop and we will see much more in the near future but full autonomous vessels are a bit out in the future.

Autonomous vessels will have a significant role to play in the offshore wind industry in terms of security vessels, surveys, cargo transfer, and crew transfer.

Do you foresee any labor shortages given comparison made recently between the oil & gas and Wind industry regarding compensation? oil & Gas is still King in Houston. Your thoughts on this are appreciated. 

We do not see any shortages of labor. Our unions are very excited about the opportunities to crew our tugs to support feedering and the opportunities for SOVs and CTVs.

How could this industry get the next and future generations involved and educated in offshore wind? I recently had the opportunity to listen to Jeff speak at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and if it wasn't for that I would not know the slightest about this industry. 

We need to be at the forefront of education and training. This is done through community outreach, workforce development, and diversity. At Crowley we are making the effort to sell our program to not only the community colleges & academies but our youth as well (K-12). All providers in this industry have the social responsibility to advise, educate, and promote offshore wind.

Talking about the importance of the supply chain, after joining several European webinars on Offshore Wind, it is understood that the big offshore energy companies will be requiring their supply chain, including builders, to comply with strict sustainability requirements. Is it presumed that the U.S. companies will be following this policy as well?

The short answer is yes. Crowley has set a goal to be the leading sustainability company in the marine transportation and logistics sector in the US by 2025. We see safety and sustainability as #1 & #1A moving forward.

How much has been done in terms of going to floating foundations to eliminate the need for TIV?

Floating foundations are one that is quickly being developed and will become more mainstream for west coast offshore wind. The technology is still fairly new so many are still going with what is known.

What are Developers, Vessel Designers, OEM Integrators doing to reduce the Capex costs of Jones Act vessels? Is there a shift beyond known European designs?

The designs that are being adopted from Europe are already seeing a change compared to what is being employed overseas. A lot of what is currently happening in the market is the first run of vessels and with any first run cost are higher because risk for all involved are higher. The same is true when offshore O&G ramped up and the first vessels were designed and built for that market. Operators and owners are being cautious at the same time weighing the opportunity to be first to market so there will be some optimization before the first vessels are built but familiarity will drop the cost more dramatically.

Thank you, when is the next webinar on this topic? 

We're all happy to see the overwhelming positive feedback. The co-host companies are working on exploring possibilities for next opportunity for related webinar. Follow our respective homepages and Social Media for updates.

Have we looked at a Joint venture with all the shipyards to have various components of the vessels made in different locations and assemble in one location or more. 

Yes, we are doing it now. We use third party fabricators to feed the yards production.

What are the challenges you foresee for the West Coast offshore wind sector as compared to the East Coast of the U.S.?

Limited locations suitable for large heavy construction projects, Environmental regulations and limited heavy construction capacity. 

Jeffrey, have you looked into implementing unmanned aircraft, drones, to conduct inspections for operators on site? How about incorporating drone training into the training program you spoke about earlier?

Crowley is already looking into the use of drones as a part of our terminal management offering to the industry and has one potential US operator in mind.

Has anyone addressed the steel pricing and availability issue for reaching the 30X30 goal?

Steel pricing is moving up quickly over the last several months so it is a concern, but supply for the Jones Act WTIV and SOV's should not be a problem.

Can you define what 'European design' means? Jack-up technology is inherently international, it is the local supply chain and the local pipeline of projects that largely influence price. Mike?

The knowledge pool is currently in Europe and most of the SOV/ WTIV designers are European Dave answer: There are a lot of designs that were referred to on the call and the European designs were mostly mention considering SOVs and CTVs which are very European.

Is the webinar going to be available to be watched later?
Yes, you can access the recorded panel discussion through this link or on the top of this page.

It was mentioned that 30x30 a goal of the current administration. What is the risk to 30 x 30 goal if/when administration changes hands?

The current administration has definitely set some lofty goals in place for not only offshore wind but other sustainable industries. The risk is if another administration enters power and they do not have ambitious goals and focus shifts away from sustainability. At that point without the push in Washington it will slow the roll out of offshore wind.

Is anyone aware of any wind farm prospects for the USWC?

At this time there are 4 call areas, Oregon State University PacWave, Humboldt, Morro Bay and Diablo Canyon.

Opportunities for USWC Wind exist in Humboldt Bay & Morro Bay, CA. There will be OW in Oregon most likely out of Coos Bay and in Hawaii as well. Oregon is supposed to have 3 GW in place before the end of the decade and I hear rumors that Hawaii could be on line before 2030 as well.

Does anyone have a rough estimate of what % 500+ vessels that were needed in the UK market were new builds vs. conversions of existing equipment?

The 500 vessels were not for UK market alone, but for Europe as market (majority shared between UK, Denmark, Netherlands, France etc). Initially the vessels used were all built for other purposes, with exception for the WITVs. To gain efficiency & improve service availability, about 75% of the SOVs today are newbuilds, while remaining are conversions of existing other vessels. Vessels for heavy subsea lift & cable lay were also available, the new vessels today are made due to growth in demand & to optimize performance. As of today, approx.. 2-300 of the 500 vessels should be considered new vessels built with intention to service offshore wind (majority are CTVs).

Who owns the Jones Act WTIV?

Dominion Energy

How do you see the near future of the WTG components transportation to site?, Should the feeder barge concept still be considered the base case?

The feeder barge concept is the base case for now but that will change as the industry grows. I believe that the split will be 60/40 feeder barges to WTIV. As time goes on, there will be more efficient means to transport and install WTG components that will eventually push the percentage lower for barges.

What are the plans for a clean energy fleet development? (Fueled by LNG, ammonia, etc)?

Crowley has already designed the first electric tugboat for harbor services in the US and we plan to refine that technology for other clean fuel products as well. Today we have two LNG powered vessels trading between GOM and Puerto Rico. All of this technology is transferable to offshore wind and we will be designing and building similar types of vessels to support the OW industry.

In order to speed the newbuild process for new SOVs, do you see a virtual shipbuilding concept being viable? -- a consortium of shipyards cooperating on a series of newbuilds to improve efficiencies, shorten production timelines, etc.

Haven't considered this.

What are the most pressing needs for training?

The most pressing needs are getting the required funding for the local colleges, academies, and nonprofits to build out their training centers. State and federal funding is required in all states.

How much will an SOV and wind installation vessel cost?

Publicly stated numbers range around $500m for a WTIV and $100m for an SOV. This is scalable to larger and smaller versions.

Hi, Is it possible to speed up marine assets & installation vessels by converting jack-ups and semi-subs from the oil & gas industry? I have done such conversions before as fast track projects in only 9-15 months.

This has been considered but they are truly two different animals. A drilling JU is 3 legged and lacks the deck space needed to carry the turbines, blades and towers and is not self-propelled. Additionally, the jacking system and legs are not designed for the jacking cycles need for wind turbine installation.

Meanwhile the turbines, towers, nacelles getting bigger, and bigger. Yesterday 6MW is today's 14, will the growth of the mentioned outpace the vessels?

There is a good understanding of the growth capabilities of the windfarms in the near future, as such we have a good understanding of vessel specifications required to cater for this growth. We expect some level of versatility related to upcoming NB projects where vessels built today will be able to service turbines of several sizes.

Due to strong needs in the near future has there been any talks about putting together an in-person workshop here in Houston to start getting everyone talking and put together a way forward plan?

Yes. The co-host companies are currently considering follow up discussions as well as in person events. We're exploring possibilities for some time on Q3. Follow our respective homepages and Social Media for updates.

Dave mentioned some solutions such as batteries, fuel cells and new fuels. Considering the variable demand of support vessels, what do you think about variable-speed engines for ships?

Variable speed generators have become a very possible solution through the utilization of DC Grid. However, the benefit of variable speed gensets when energy storage is installed is diminished as strategic loading, peak shaving, etc. are enable with ESS.

Where do you see the interface with the Regulator coming in, and the USCG particularly due to the integration with ship traffic?

USCG has indicated that there will not be safety zones related to windfarms in service, however these will be established during construction. USCG jurisdiction has been extended beyond 12Nm through congressional approval to allow for governance in deeper development as well. Although it is not law, majority of deep-sea ship owners have expressed their concerns about navigating through these developments and will likely use the shipping routes that will be preserved.

Why kind of features are required to re-purpose an SOV for offshore wind service?

If this is concerning a OSV to SOV conversion, then one of the main needs is the need to add a walk to work gangway. This gangway is motion compensating and there is a high probability to upgrade the dynamic positioning system to accommodate.

If the US can build state of the art nuclear powered aircraft carriers, why is there a question on whether US shipyards are capable of building these simple purposed built vessels for the Offshore windfarm industry? isn't the existing technologies, including the one being use in Europe, all coming out and developed in the US? With over 5000 offshore platforms in the GoM, why is there a concern about availability of a trained marine and offshore workforce?

Naval shipyards and commercial shipyards are two different entities with vastly different capabilities… But, I don't believe we suggested that the US yards can't build these vessels. They most certainly can.

Isn't the myth about US built vessels being grossly more expensive than the ones built in Singapore, China or South Korea hurting US shipyards chances of taking the lead in this industry? 

It's not a myth, they are more expensive.

My final question relates to Jones Act requirements. I'm being told that Jones act only applies to the hull and equipment used in these installations are exempt. Is that the case?

Yes, the hull and accommodation structure need to be US supplied steel, fabricated in the US. All other outfitting can be sourced internationally.

This was a lot about bus. Development. There is a lot of history with US shipyards trying to build back in the offshore bus...and some of those yards had no idea and the rigs ended up in disaster. same is true of some of the issues in offshore - BSEE has studied those issues, but most people haven't thought out the issues that the regulatory have researched and documented, and its available.

True enough…Best to do your homework and assess your inhouse capability before taking on a problem child.

Will be interesting to see how partnerships (or coalitions) develop as we move forward in this. What are the thoughts on companies working together more to make this happen as opposed to (perhaps previous thinking) on taking the competition? Aha - just answered, talking about improved collaboration!

Seems question was addressed adequately during session.

What is the average cost of newbuild construction vs. conversion for feeder vessels and O&M support vessels? Any data on this?

Conversions do not seem to be viable alternatives due to the performance functions require for OSW vs O&G.

How do you see the limitation on production of the cable for exporting power affecting the schedule on when the vessels will be needed?

A supply chain is a supply chain. Whatever component is critical path determines the overall schedule.

Will there be a push to sustainably developing the required infrastructure / green ports / electrification / repurposing facilities, etc.?

The short answer is yes, and this will be a push for existing and new ports.


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