New safer vessel transfer system selected for Sheringham Shoal

Scira Offshore Energy, the operator of Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, will use OSBIT Power’s MaXccess vessel transfer system to allow safe and reliable access to wind turbines in a greater range of weather conditions. The safe transfer of wind farm technicians from vessels to turbines is currently a key challenge in the industry.

This new transfer system has been chosen by Scira for Sheringham Shoal following extensive trials, in locations such as Statoil’s Hywind demonstration floating wind turbine in Norway.

MaXccess differs from existing vessel transfer systems; it has been engineered to restrain bow motions vertically and horizontally while allowing the vessel to roll, pitch and yaw freely. This extends the wave height limit of personnel transfers for a range of vessel types and thus reduces operational downtime. MaXccess also allows its vessel to clamp on to a turbine quickly and operates at low power while technician/cargo transfers take place. The system has undergone a thorough and methodical development period, its design has been approved by Lloyds Register, and it is backed up by extensive safety documentation on all aspects of its design and operation.

Sheringham Shoal’s Marine Operations Manager, Meindert Jan van der Velde comments “accessing turbines is the most hazardous operation undertaken during the construction and operation of a wind farm. By working together with OSBIT Power, Siemens and Fred Olsen Windcarrier on the development of this transfer technology, we have aimed to address this issue and improve the safety of our personnel”, he said. “It will also increase our efficiency, as transfers will be able to take place in conditions of up to 2m significant wave height.”

By allowing the vessel heading to be adjusted by up to 40 degrees each side of the boat landing ladders, it can be aligned with prevailing wave and tidal conditions. The system is also lightweight at 1.5 tonnes and occupies a relatively small amount of deck space when installed on wind farm support vessels, such as the South Boats design used at Sheringham Shoal.

Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm is nearing its final stage of construction with completion scheduled for late summer 2012. The project is owned equally by Statoil and Statkraft through their joint venture company Scira, with Statoil project managing the construction.