The Tide is Turning for American Boats and American Jobs in the American Renewable Energy Story of Offshore Wind.
Near shore cable route surveys are being conducted by several of the Offshore Wind Developers and most of the work is being performed by US boats and US crews, which translates to US Marine Jobs.
Equinor Wind is one developer who is performing cable route surveys for power transmission lines. These lines will run from the offshore wind farms to onshore transfer stations and then distribute the power to hundreds of thousands of New York Homes.
The survey work is measured, difficult and challenging, given the fact this work has to be done in the peak summer months. I happy to report that our Certified Fisheries Liaison Officers are onboard these vessels, communicating with mariners and generally helping out the crew to identify any possible adverse interactions with other vessels, or marine life.
On board one of these survey vessels is a total of nine people, if one were to include the ripple effect, the survey work of this type vessel supports about 58.5 jobs! Additionally, many people are needed in the main offices of the developers to record and report the data collected onboard the vessels. A survey company is a US company and employs US engineers and techs, so the actual amount of jobs supported by these survey vessels is much higher than 58.5 jobs per.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Every New Basic Job Supports 5.5 Additional Service Jobs. If a US Flagged Inshore Survey employs 9 people onboard, if you include the ripple effect, (9×5.5 + 9), this ONE boat supports 58.5 jobs wherever the survey vessel is operating.
NOTE: This fact cannot be supported by a non-US flagged vessel.
I mentioned earlier on that the work is slow. Let me briefly explain why:
- Lots of boat traffic. It’s summer time and everyone who owns a boat is using it. Pleasure boaters don’t need a license and about 90% of them have never had a smidgen of training about the rules of the road, general navigation, or basic mariner courtesy, so the survey vessel can get pushed off a survey line and then they need to start over.
- Lots and Lots of fishing gear. Lobster, Crab and Conch Pots all over the place. Again, its summer and anyone who has a boat can get a recreational lobster fishing permit and plop up to about 10 lobster pots and 10 crab traps in the water near shore, so there are THOUSANDS of lobster pots dropped all over the place.
- Lobster and Conch pots are deployed by commercial fishermen during the summer months and wherever the conch or lobsters are, so are the pots. This is the commercial fisherman’s season and they need to do what they do to make a living!
The last thing in the world a survey vessel captain wants is to get tangled up with any fixed fishing gear. It’s costly, time consuming, and no fun whatsoever for anyone.
Some NIMBY folks (Not In My Back Yard) want to believe the survey companies don’t give a darn about fishing gear and they are simply ill-informed, ill-advised, or idiots. The survey gear being towed behind the vessel generally costs between $100,000 and $400,000. So you can see, one small tangle can cost a whole lot of money, angst, aggravation, and wasted time for everyone involved, and no one wants any part of that.
… So what does an Offshore Wind Developer do to mitigate this?
They hire Scout Boats to patrol the area ahead of the survey vessel and report back positions of gear and talk with fishermen who are out there working. Scout boats open communication so the survey boats can continue work without interfering. (NOTE: 95% of the fishermen are very grateful for the heads up and the show of respect from the developers). (Scout Boats Equal MORE Local Jobs not included in the above referenced number of jobs created)
One More Thing
Due to the close proximity to the shore the survey boats are much smaller and they don’t have sleeping quarters so the boats are restricted to daytime operations. This means the boats tie up at a marinas and the crew frequent restaurants and motels, which translates to nice little financial windfalls to local marinas, motels and restaurants. (This is where the ripple effect kicks in)
Equinor is one of the Offshore Wind Developers who recognize the importance of having a Certified Fisheries Liaison Officer onboard. To date there are NO Negative/Adverse interactions between vessels that has occurred! This is specifically a ‘hat tip’ to the CFLO’s onboard that have helped communicate with the fishermen and captains of the survey vessels. So far, on this end of these projects, it has worked out flawlessly.
I applaud Equinor Wind for using US Flagged Vessels, US Survey Companies and US Crews.
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