As North Star celebrates the official naming of its second SOV, the Grampian Derwent, and it’s second daughter craft, the Alison Kay, CEO Matthew Gordon reflects on how collaboration remains the linchpin of progress, driving the business towards a more sustainable future in its ambition to add 40 hybrid Service Operations Vessels (SOVs) to its fleet by 2040.
In a sector known for its demanding challenges, North Star, with its 135-year legacy in the North Sea, has a well-earned reputation as a beacon of safety, service, and quality. Committed to supporting local businesses where possible, and with an annual spend in the UK of tens of millions of pounds, the firm has consistently set the bar high for excellence. Recently, our continued long-term collaboration with Vard Design produced our first hybrid SOV design. The first two of four, the Grampian Tyne, and the newly christened Grampian Derwent, have been delivered ahead of schedule and we remain on track for the next two newbuilds also entering our fleet by 2025 for their contracted 10-year charters, as well as the first two of our larger commissioning SOV’s (CSOVs)
In tandem, we also collaborated with the team of Southampton based naval architects Chartwell Marine along with Great Yarmouth’s specialists at Alicat Workboats and other technology partners. Together, we yielded groundbreaking results with our unique daughter craft design for offshore wind, exemplifying our dedication to innovation and sustainable growth as we progress our European ambitions.
The fruit of this workboat collaboration is nothing short of remarkable: the world's inaugural hybrid-powered daughter craft, purposely designed for the offshore wind market. Daughter craft workboats, those unsung heroes of offshore operations, facilitate the safe transport of technicians between SOVs and wind turbines, ensuring both maintenance and emergencies are handled seamlessly.
The significance of this collaborative approach goes beyond technological innovation; it signifies a new era for the offshore wind sector by addressing the previous performance limits of daughter crafts. The introduction of hybrid propulsion to daughter craft operation, capable of transitioning effortlessly between electric and diesel modes, also ushers in unparalleled operational flexibility and efficiency. This innovation, with its four hours of fully electric operation at six knots, and the ability to transit at 10 knots with a tonne of cargo for an hour, heralds a new standard for emissions reduction and versatility.
Safety and stability are the twin pillars of offshore operations, and the daughter craft's innovative hull design, gyro-stabilisation coupled with yawing AFS bow fender concept, has redefined industry expectations. Even in wave heights of up to 1.7 meters, this workboat continues to operate efficiently, enhancing both safety and operational effectiveness. In addition, its green technologies are designed to curtail carbon emissions, with a blueprint for future improvements in in-field charging technologies.
The partnership with Alicat Workboats generated jobs and apprenticeships for the yard, but it also acted as a launchpad to international recognition as the world's pioneer in building performance daughter craft, and the first to do so in the UK. Their expertise in outboard propulsion systems played a pivotal role in the success of this groundbreaking endeavour, now sought by others in the sector.
However, the impact extends far beyond these remarkable achievements. By adding an effective asset to our clients’ offshore logistics planning, we are substantially adding to their mission flexibility, which can be further extended with the optionality of twin daughter craft aboard the North Star vessels.
The daughter craft's acclaim within the offshore wind community, and its successful deployment in demanding operational conditions, exemplify its reliability and performance. It is a testament to the possibilities that emerge when visionary minds unite, and when innovation, sustainability, and collaboration converge to support the growth of the offshore wind industry.