Home' Work Boat World : November 2015 Contents The best is not
always left to last
Less is more, or does more mean less?
Sometimes size doesn’t matter, which is why nobody should be
too distressed that, in fact, not everything is bigger in Texas. Case
in point: a recently announced ferry newbuild for, and in, the
Lone Star State.
At 49.1 metres (161 feet for my imperial friends) in length and
with capacity for 28 cars, there certainly isn’t a measure by which it
will be the largest ferry of its type. One thing that did catch my eye is
that it will be diesel-electric (DE).
What’s interesting about that, you ask? Well, perhaps I am
mistaken – I often am and am open to being corrected – but my
impression is that while Europe has significantly transitioned from
direct drive diesel propulsion (to DE, LNG, or combinations thereof),
DE is somewhat of a rarity in the US passenger vessel scene.
Also catching my eye about the new contract fro m the Texas
Department of Transport for Southwest Shipyard and designer Elliott
Bay Design Group (EBDG) is that this is the third vessel in the class,
but the first with DE, and that EBDG has said it, “requires less
maintenance over its lifetime”.
I’ll be very interested to see how that works out in practice –
hopefully one day some good, solid comparisons will be made
between the three – as to my mind the more things you put on a
ship, especially electrical ones, the more things there are to look after.
To further prove my point about bigger not always being better, I
was also interested to see that EBDG will serve as owner’s
representative. I can’t help but wonder how that works. I’ve often
heard, from both shipyards and designers , that when things go
wrong the other is to blame. Sorting it out can be a minefield for the
owner. So what, then, happens when the owner is represented by the
designer? Is this is as unusual as I think it would be? Perhaps in Texas
you just call in the Sheriff?
Where the wind blows...
There is no doubt that Europe is ahead of the US when it comes to
offshore wind farms. In fact it may be so far ahead that it has already
reached the peak of the mountain and be heading into one of those
troughs that so characterise many aspects of the work boat world.
Across the Atlantic, things are just starting to happen. A handful
of months ago Deepwater Wind’s Block island Wind Farm off the
coast of Rhode Island reached a physical milestone, with the first
steel going in the water. This will be America’s first commercial scale
offshore wind farm but at 30MW from five turbines it is modest by
To date, nine commercial wind energy leases have been awarded
off the Atlantic coast: three off Massachusetts, two off Rhode Island-
Massachusetts, two off Maryland, one off Virginia, and one off
Delaware. Together these account for slightly more than 700,000
acres in federal waters.
The winds of change are about to blow significantly harder,
however, with 13 energy companies qualified to bid in a lease sale for
another 344,000 acres off New Jersey. According to the US
Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory this
could support at least 3,400MW of commercial wind generation if
Further down the pipeline of opportunities, the Bureau of Ocean
Energy Management (BOEM) is moving forward with its process for
considering a renewable energy lease sale within three Wind Energy
Areas (WEAs) offshore North Carolina. Those WEAs total
approximately 307,590 acres.
More power, means more turbines, means more work for a range
of work boats.
Zero to hero
Russia’s loss seems to have been Egypt’s gain when it comes to the
saga of the two large helicopter dock ships France built for Russia.
The deal with Russia sank very quickly as the Crimea crisis
unfolded, leaving some significant, brand new amphibious
warfighting power available. Evidently Putin and his pals were
reimbursed the €950 million (US$1,070 million) or so they had
shelled out. It seems, however , that the French pockets won’t be
empty for long.
In what seems to have been a remarkably quick process, a buyer
has apparently been found for the Mistral class ships. So, who has the
deep pockets, need and supporting force and support structure for
such powerful ships?
Don’t kick yourself if Egypt didn’t spring to mind...mine is still
reeling at the news. The country doesn’t strike me as a great naval
power, not even a potential one, though it does begin to make more
sense when rumours about funding from Gulf Arab states may be
part of the equation.
I also wouldn’t rule out some French assistance: I was previously
oblivious to the fact that last year Egypt ordered four Gowind
corvettes for a cool €1 billion from Mistral builder DCNS (majority
owned by France) and took delivery of a FREMM multi-mission
frigate from the same company earlier this year.
It certainly seems to this partially trained eye that Egypt is going
“from zero to hero” very quickly.
Got a tip? – Aft_Lines@hotmail.com or www.facebook.com/aftlines
58 November 2015 WORK BOAT WORLD
The FREMM frigate ‘Tahya Misr ’: Egypt is building a powerful n avy
with help from DCNS, and perhaps others?
It may not be huge but a new ferry deal for Texas raises some questions
58 AFT:Layout 1 12/10/15 10:38 AM Page 58
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