Sea Installer stops in Salem en route to Vineyard Wind 1
Ship too wide to fit through New Bedford hurricane barrier
NEW BEDFORD is ground zero for the emerging offshore wind industry in Massachusetts, but Salem got a taste of the action on Tuesday when a giant ship capable of installing the world’s largest wind turbines docked in the harbor.
The Sea Installer is preparing to head out to Vineyard Wind 1 south of Martha’s Vineyard and begin installing wind turbines, but first it had to undergo inspections by officials from the US Coast Guard and US Customs.
The Danish-flagged ship came to Salem for the inspections because of the city’s deep-water port and because, at 439 feet long and 150 feet wide, the ship is too big to squeeze through the hurricane barrier in New Bedford harbor.
Salem officials, including the former mayor, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, seized on the occasion to plug the arrival of offshore wind in Massachusetts and the future role Salem may play.
The Sea Installer was docked on the water side of the property on Tuesday. It is often called a jack-up vessel because it has four legs that can lift the boat out of the water. The Sea Installer is 10 years old but it has a new crane capable of installing the 13 megawatt General Electric turbines being used on the wind farm. The vessel has a crew of 90, of whom about 24 will be US union workers, officials said.
A separate, larger vessel called Orion is already out at the wind farm area. It was used to build the substation where the electricity from the turbines will be gathered and it is installing the 62 foundations on the ocean floor. Work on the wind farm is scheduled to continue through the winter and wrap up sometime next summer.
Salem Mayor Dominick Pangallo is eager to see the industry take off in his city. “Salem is primed and ready to play our part in this important work as the next offshore wind marshaling terminal serving future such installations off the coast of Massachusetts, in the Gulf of Maine, or elsewhere,” he said.Pangallo also said the Sea Installer is on a rescue mission. “In just the last two months our planet has seen the hottest day ever, the hottest June, the hottest July, wildfires poisoning the air of our continent, devastating rainfall, and a warming and rising sea. Around the globe the cascading impacts of our climate crisis are becoming ever more apparent and no longer ignorable,” he said. “We are in the crisis now, so the Sea Installer is on a rescue mission.”