Offshore Wind Money Pit – 5 Words Can Save BILLIONS

How Offshore Wind Can Save Billions of Dollars in Construction Costs – Keep Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in US JobsSignificantly Influence Public Perception. Using Only 5 Words.

This particular post has been a long time coming. I’ve been hesitant about posting it, but the entrepreneur in me can no longer remain silent. I’m watching Billions of Dollars being tossed out the window and hundreds of Millions of Dollars worth of American jobs being sacrificed.
I need to get this off my chest because FIVE WORDS can change it all.

What are the FIVE WORDS, you ask?
Keep reading – I’ll share them with you in this post – but first, you to see the numbers. Because only then will the FIVE WORDS make sense.

“Watch Your Pennies and The Dollars Will Take Care Of Themselves”

Capt. Carl Forsberg – my grandfather

I’ve been directly involved in Offshore Wind Survey work since 2019 and have been going half out of my mind as millions of dollars are being wasted while I’m fighting like a dog trying to get Certified Fisheries Liaisons Officers (CFLO) onboard ALL vessels working in Offshore Wind.

I’m told they aren’t in the budget, or not enough room on the boat, Whales and Turtles are more important, etc. End Result: It’s 2AM on a Monday and I can’t sleep, so out comes Microsoft Excel, and this article springs to life.

I’m going to share the math with you in this post. Hopefully, it will be noticed by someone who has enough influence to Stop The Bleeding, Increase American Jobs and Become a Positive Influence In The Court of Public Perception.

Between myself and my crew, we have documented well over 1,500 survey days onboard vessels from 110 – 260’. This includes both foreign and US Flagged vessels. The information doesn’t come from sitting behind a desk. Its real life, hands on, factual information. 

To add authenticity to this post, I’m going to use the numbers from a report prepared by GustomMSC out of their Houston, TX Office titled: U.S. Jones Act Compliant Offshore Wind Turbine Installation Vessel Study.
The report was prepared for, and presented to:

  • Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
  • Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
  • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
  • Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources
  • Clean Energy States Alliance. 

The report goes into great detail about various Turbine Installation types, and on page 22, it breaks down waiting on weather days. I took the information from the report, placed it in Excel and made it a it more legible. I don’t know where exactly they got the information, but I know from spending the better part of my life plying the waters in the area, it is very accurate

Data from page 22 of Report

I’m going to cover 3 topics below and finish with #4, by Cost Comparison. 

  1. Vessel Efficiency – comparing Foreign Flagged vs US Flagged Vessels. 
  2. Mariner Labor Cost and Jobs – between Foreign and US Flagged Vessels
  3. Daily Operating Cost – Between Vessel Size/Class
  4. Overall Vessel Cost Comparison – this part will probably shock the living daylights out of you as long as you don’t jump ahead.

Feel free to leave your comments in the comment section so we can have a discussion.

Ready? Let’s Get Into It:

First, it’s not the size of the boat that matters – it’s the weather and sea state.
Geophysical survey equipment is towed behind a survey boat and is highly susceptible to wave height. A 5’ wave is just as big on a 150’ boat as it is on a 260’ boat, and the survey equipment doesn’t know the difference – it collects bad data in bad conditions and good data in good conditions – period. When a 150′ Boat Can’t work, Neither Can a 260‘.

 1: Vessel Efficiency:
Now that we have this part established, let’s review the “Efficiency” part of the puzzle before we get into the eye-popping expense differences:
Optimal speed for Geophysical survey work is 3.5 knots (about 4mph) which, in a “Best Case” scenario, a survey vessel would cover 84 survey miles per day. 

However, the survey lines are generally between 3 and 12 miles long with the overall average of 6. At the end of the survey line, the boat needs to turn around (while towing survey gear), and get back on a parallel survey line so it can go in the exact opposite direction. 

Turning Time Difference Between a 260′ and 150’ vessel.

  • 150’ – 180′ boat takes 15 min to make a turn, so on average, this vessel can cover 64.2 miles, or 10.67 survey lines, per day.
  • 260’ boat takes 45 min to 1 hr to make a turn so on average, this size vessel can cover 48.0 miles, or 8.0 survey lines per day.

FACTOID: 64.2 miles minus 48 miles equals 16.2 more survey miles, or a STAGGERING 33.75% more area covered on a 150′-180′ vessel. At 266 workdays per year, is an EYE-POPPING 4,309.20 More Miles Per Year!

NOTE: Vessels smaller than 150’ cannot efficiently compete in Federal Waters because can’t carry the personnel, don’t have room for adequate living accommodations and are not long enough to reach across the sea, so they are very susceptible to weather. 

Got Your Attention Yet?
I Hope So … Because We’re Just Getting Started.

2: Mariner Labor Cost:
Comparing the difference in Marine Professional Licensure, Pay, and the number of personnel required to operate the vessel. 

Mariner Cost Breakdown

As you can plainly see, US Mariner pay is twice that of a Foreign Mariner, but the actual cost to the vessel is less because less are required on a 180’ (100 Ton) US Flagged vessel and all jobs remain in the United States.

Now might be a good time to pause and grab something to drink because the rest is

3: Overall Vessel Cost Comparison:
This one is a doozy and to prove I’m not making this up, I am basing the annual work days on an Offshore Wind Vessel.

4: Cost Comparison:
Wrapping it up, you can see by viewing the images above, or by downloading the worksheet, the actual cost of a large Foreign Flagged vessel are by far much more expensive.

Currently, there are 17 Offshore Wind projects in various stages of development and all of them require multiple years worth of Geophysical Survey work before construction, and continued survey work will be required throughout the projected 20 year lifetime of Offshore Wind Farms.

If there was only ONE survey vessel working in each wind farm over the 20 year lifespan, we’re looking at a MASSIVE Difference – Look Below:

Three Billion, Eight Hundred Seventy Six Million, Three Hundred Fifty Thousand, Two Hundred Dollars!

By now, if the FIVE WORDS haven’t come to you yet, here they are.

Must Use US Flagged Vessels.

The FIVE WORDS above need to be included in all RFP’s for Geophysical Survey Work.
I hope this post gives you something to think about, and I certainly hope it gets passed on to someone with decision making powers. I’m happy to discuss this in more detail.

One More Thing: I know one of the arguments is the US Flagged boat don’t have adequate living accommodations, and my answer to that is HOGWASH!
C&C or Master Marine Built Vessels (built in Louisiana) are perfect platforms and with minor changes, they would be perfect. I have the layout already drafted.

Feel Free To Contact Me for More Information.