Barge returns to New London with undelivered wind turbine blades
New London ― Less than a week after a transport barge left State Pier carrying the first load of off-shore wind turbine parts to a point off the coast of Long Island for assembly, maintenance issues forced the ship’s return to New London with several undelivered components.
The U.S.-flagged vessel, bearing the name and logo of the Crowley maritime shipping line company, steered back into the city’s deep-water port on Sunday with the same three football field-long wind turbine blades it left with on Oct. 31.
That launch was celebrated by local officials and representatives of Eversource and its South Fork Wind project partner, the Danish wind company Ørsted.
Ørsted-Eversource partnership spokesman Justin May on Monday said while sections of a turbine tower and a multi-ton generating nacelle were successfully transferred to a South Fork Wind project assembly vessel about 35 miles east of Montauk Point, an issue with “lift equipment” on the barge prevented the offloading of the blades.
“The barge will return to the South Fork Wind offshore site after maintenance, and as weather allows, to continue with installation,” May said. “There are no issues with the blades.”
May could not say if the barge’s transfer equipment was checked before it left New London.
The barge, which left New London at approximately 8:30 p.m. last Tuesday, successfully rendezvoused hours later with the Aeolus, a Netherlands-flagged “jack-up” ship whose deck can be hoisted above the waves to take on the wind components, May said.
Before the maintenance issue arose, the delivery barge was slated to return to State Pier after spending roughly 40 hours unloading the turbine pieces. Once docked again in New London, the vessel was to take on another load of Siemens Gamesa wind turbine generators and start the delivery process all over again.
Eversource officials said a dozen such trips are required to deliver all 12 turbines for the 132-megawatt wind project which promises to deliver energy to 70,000 homes on Long Island.
The webpage for International Longshoremen's Association 1411, the union representing State Pier stevedores tasked with loading the turbine parts onto outgoing ships, listed the South Fork Wind delivery barge ― identified as a 455-series heavy-lift vessel ― as returning to New London on Sunday “with blades.”
“Don’t know what work schedule will be,” the union page stated and noted the UHL Flair, a heavy-load transport vessel like the Crowley-operated vessel, is tentatively scheduled to arrive in New London on Nov. 18.
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