Damen unveils new vessel type for large floating offshore wind turbines

Damen Shipyards is creating a new breed of vessel capable of supporting the next significant step in offshore wind: the deployment of large scale, floating offshore wind turbines (FOWT).

Over 200 GW of new FOWT are expected to be operational by 2050, which equates to over 13,500 units and will collectively make a significant contribution to the transition to sustainable energy.

These FOWTs will require unprecedentedly large chains and anchors due to the massive size of the turbines and the extreme depths to which they will be submerged. In order to ensure maximum production from a wind farm, the anchoring systems must leave nothing to chance. Even if only one installation begins to pull an anchor upwind of the others, the effects might be catastrophic. From what we can tell, each FOWT will need anything from three to six anchors, with chain diameters rising from the usual 152mm for a large offshore construction to over 220mm.

Although anchoring methods will be mostly unchanged, the vessels needed to manage them will have to be significantly larger than those used now. They will need to be highly effective because of the anticipated high demand for their services.

Collaboration is key

Damen is currently developing a new class in collaboration with suppliers and vessel operators to fulfill this requirement. They have all they need to take on this challenge as an integrated R&D, design, engineering, and shipbuilding firm. It has the ability to manufacture its own anchors and chains, giving it a leg up on the competition.

While there is still more to do, initial reactions from anchor handling experts have been encouraging. Due to the large sizes and heavy weights that may be used for mooring lines, Damen is in talks with other suppliers about new deck systems that can speed up the loading of chain, synthetic rope, steel wire, clump weights, and other potential mooring line components in the harbor while maintaining safety.

The Offshore Construction department at Damen Shipyards Mangalia in Romania will also contribute to the growth of the floating offshore wind industry. In particular, it is strategically located and has the necessary resources to manufacture the numerous floating foundations required to support the turbines.

Image source: Damen

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