NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — One morning this week in the waters off the coast of Rhode Island and New York, signs of the nascent wind industry were all around. Huge vertical steel pipes are pulled from the water, waiting for ships to lift wind-driven electricity generating turbines.
A battleship-grey ship was sailing. They fear that US maritime companies and sailors will be left behind in this windfall of the US coast. So Aaron Smith, president of the Maritime Services Association, has been watching with binoculars to see if ships serving the new wind farm are using American-flagged ships, not American-made ships.
“It makes me angry to think about the men and women I know who could do this job. American citizens, at full capacity, sit at home while foreign nationals go to work in American waters,” Smith said. “It’s not fair.”
The ship’s name is an enforcer of the Jones Act, a century-old law that restricts the transportation of goods between US points to US-built, owned and chartered vessels. Motto: “We’ll Look At It” Smith was documenting operations to show federal law enforcement officials and members of Congress.
The Coastal Marine Service Association says it strongly supports the offshore wind industry. Many member companies are working in it. Smith says this effort is about securing their future — decades of jobs and investments. America may need about 2,000 of the most powerful turbines to meet this requirement. Goals to boost offshore wind To significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels to protect the atmosphere and reduce climate change.
The executive made many trips to the Danish energy company Ørsted is developing the South Fork Wind Project. With the utility Eversource. This could be the first US commercial-scale wind farm to open.
Approaching the site on Tuesday, Smith saw a large Cypriot-flagged crane vessel, smaller Belgian-flagged vessels, and a US fishing and offshore supply vessel near the turbine hubs. The Associated Press was the only media.
The U.S. fleet does not have large ships specialized for offshore wind to install bases and turbines. But some of the foreign-flagged vessels operating in wind development areas on the East Coast are tugs and small supply vessels. US shipping operators told AP
Ørsted noted that 75% of the vessels supporting construction of the South Fork Wind Shore are US-flagged, including barges, barges, personnel carriers and fishing vessels. But large US-flagged offshore windsurfers have yet to be built. Still, the company told the AP that the ships loaded with South Fork wind have American union workers.
“As US industry continues to mature, we are designing our projects to hit as many American workers, contractors, suppliers and fleets as possible. “We are proud that South Fork Wind is putting hundreds of American sailors and union workers to work at sea in a variety of roles,” Brian Stockton, Orsted’s chief regulatory affairs officer, said in a statement Thursday.
Ørsted’s offshore operations are complying with the provisions of the Jones Act, Stockton added.
On this day, Smith said he could see no clear violation of the Jones Act, a “smoking gun.” To make the case for the Jones Act for Customs and Border Protection, the union would have to watch a ship for weeks, if not months, and see multiple levels of activity. Merchandise Merchandise Goods must be shipped by sea and returned empty.
In the past, the association has also verified the oil and gas positions of foreign vessels. It initially leased the Executive from Harvey Gulf International Marine in late 2021.
Both wind and oil and gas companies can seek waivers from the Jones Act, citing national defense and the lack of U.S. vessels, or get a ruling from Customs that allows the use of foreign vessels for a particular transaction.
But Smith said he feels offshore wind developers are violating the spirit of the act. I am concerned that investors will not finance the construction of cruise ships if they are competing with foreign ships at a cheaper price per day, especially since foreign ships can be paid less. That creates a cycle where developers use foreign ships because no American ships are available.
The association wants to break that cycle when the industry starts, Smith said. Federal officials expect to review at least 16 construction and operations plans for commercial and offshore wind facilities by 2025.
“That’s a lot of work and a lot of good-paying jobs that we can do,” Smith said.
Randy Adams is the owner of Marine Support Ventures in Cut Off, Louisiana. Its ships carry out geological studies for oil and gas. He wants to do the same for the clean energy transition, but hasn’t yet.
“I’m concerned that our industry is going to miss the boat on wind power,” he said. “I can’t say we’re closing in on it, but we’re definitely not at the top of the totem pole.”
As for Jones Law Enforcement, Smith plans to keep the port in New Bedford, Massachusetts through August visiting two commercial-grade wind farm sites. Ørsted is installing 12 turbines. Another developer, Vineyard Wind, is building a 62-turbine wind farm. 15 miles (24 km) off the coast of Massachusetts.
In a statement Thursday, Vineyard Wind said the project complies with all U.S. laws, including the Jones Act, and fully supports the U.S. marine and shipbuilding industry.
Before arriving in Massachusetts, the executive was on the Virginia coast, where Dominion Energy is planning an offshore wind farm. Smith said he was seeing foreign ships scanning the area for unexploded ordnance, and at least four of his member companies were out bidding for the job.
Dominion told the AP that these ships do not transport goods between US points, so they are compliant. The company says the US ships have found work in surveying, scouting, hauling equipment and transporting technicians.
In Texas, Domion is currently building the Charybdis, the first Jones Act-compliant offshore wind cargo ship, and says it strongly supports the law. Ørsted charters that ship.
Ørsted is investing in Eco Edison. The first US-built offshore wind service operational vesselNow under construction in Louisiana and five more fleets under construction in Rhode Island.
Sam Gieberga is executive vice president and general counsel at Hornbeck Offshore Services in Covington, Louisiana. Its supply vessels and multipurpose support vessels are primarily used by the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico. He said they were happy with the prospect of offshore wind at first because it is clean energy that creates jobs and business. But to him, it’s starting to feel like a dirty word. The company recently lost a bid for a foreign ship.
“We are a maritime region. They always were. This is the next great maritime border and we are not going to do it,” asked Gieberga. “Why would we?” ___
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