Historic Milestone for America’s First Offshore Wind Farm

Block Island Offshore Wind Farm

In an historic moment for the American offshore wind industry, the Block Island Wind Farm has reached its “steel in the water” milestone with the installation of the first wind farm foundation component.

Deepwater Wind’s offshore foundation installation contractor set the first, 400-ton steel jacket on the sea floor on Sunday, July 26 at the wind farm site, roughly three miles off the Block Island coast. A joint venture between Weeks Marine and Manson Construction is serving as Deepwater Wind’s offshore foundation installation contractor.

Deepwater Wind’s leaders were joined today, July 27, by Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Ross Hopper, the state’s Congressional delegation, and more than a hundred other elected officials, leaders of national environmental advocacy organizations, federal and state regulators, Block Islanders and project supporters to celebrate the milestone during a ferry tour of the offshore construction site.

“We know the world is watching closely what we do here, and we’re incredibly proud to be at the forefront of a new American clean-tech industry launching right here in the Ocean State,” said CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “This moment has been years in the making – and it’s just the start of something very big.”

This first of five foundation installations kicks off a busy construction period for the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm. During the roughly eight-week construction period this summer, more than a dozen construction and transport barges, tugboats, crew ships and monitoring vessels will be active at the offshore construction site.

Vessel and crane operators, engineers, welders, scientists, protected species observers and dozens of others are all involved with this momentous operation.

“Weeks Marine and Manson Construction are enthused to assist with this challenging project and excited for the future opportunity it promises,” said Rick Palmer, Project Director for Weeks/Manson, a joint venture leading the installation work. “We commend Deepwater Wind for their diligent efforts that have led to this milestone achievement.”

The five steel jacket foundations were fabricated at Gulf Island Fabrication, Inc., which began fabrication work in late 2014 at its facilities in Houma, Louisiana. Rhode Island-based Specialty Diving Services provided fabrication work on components of the foundation substructures at its Quonset Point facility.

“Gulf Island has a reputation for delivering quality structures that are on time and within budget and this project was no exception,” said Kirk Meche, Gulf Island Fabrication’s Chief Executive Officer, President and Director. “We know that it was instrumental to the success of the project and we are proud to have been a part of this history making event.”

Submarine cable installation is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016 and erection of the five Alstom Haliade 6 MW offshore wind turbines is scheduled for the summer of 2016. The project is scheduled to be in-service and generating power in the fourth quarter of 2016.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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