German utility RWE, in partnership with UK-based Commercial Rib Charters (CRC), is set to roll out what is claimed to be the world’s first amphibious vessel for reaching offshore wind farms in shallow waters.
The unique crew transfer vessel (CTV) has initially been designed to reach turbines at RWE’s Scroby Sands offshore wind farm in the UK, which have become stranded by the natural rising tide of the sandbank on which it is built. The fully seaworthy vessel, which can also drive on land, provides an access solution for some of the industry’s first-generation assets affected by very dynamic seabed conditions.
The 60 MW Scroby Sands was one of the first of a group of projects to be built in the UK, all in coastal locations with relatively shallow waters close to shore. Scroby Sands was built on a prehistoric sandbank and, because of natural changes in the marine environment and coastal erosion, this has risen over time, effectively isolating four turbines from being accessed by service vessels, RWE explained.
CRC contracted naval architects Chartwell Marine to carry out the design of the vessel, which is now in construction at Isle of Wight-based Diverse Marine. It will be operated for RWE by CRC under a six-year contract, commencing in September this year. The CTV is to be named CRC Walrus in honour of R.J. Mitchells’ classic 1930s Supermarine amphibious biplane. It has two wheels at the front and one at the back and is capable of transferring 10 technicians and two crew to any of the turbines within the array, including those on the raised sandbank.