VARD, one of the major global designers and shipbuilders of specialized vessels, is pleased to announce that it has signed new contracts for the design and construction of two commissioning service operation vessels (CSOVs) for the UK’s leading infrastructure support vessel operator North Star. The agreement also has an option for two additional ships, which could ultimately create a total of up to 200 new seafaring job opportunities across the CSOV fleet once operational.
North Star employs 1,300 crew and onshore personnel and owns the largest wholly UK-owned fleet engaged in the North Sea. The firm has committed to delivering 40 offshore wind ships by 2040 to meet the evolving demand of offshore wind operations and maintenance (O&M) logistical support across the UK and Europe. Partners Group, a leading global private markets firm, acting on behalf of its clients, acquired North Star in 2022.
North Star’s vessel designs have been tailor-made for market leading accessibility to enable commissioning and maintenance operations to the offshore wind industry. The ships are of unique VARD 4 22 design, produced in close collaboration with Vard Design in Ålesund, Norway. They feature the latest hull design optimized for low fuel consumption and resistance, as well as high operability and comfort. The VARD 4 22 design has been developed especially for North Star, with new methanol ready hybrid-propulsion solutions and an increased number of single cabins, providing hotel quality accommodation for the technicians working in field.
These vessels are the next in a series of orders North Star has contracted with VARD so far. In 2021, the firm placed four SOV newbuild orders with VARD in Vietnam, all of which will support the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Dogger Bank, on long term charters. The first three ships will commence operations this year, ahead of schedule, with the final to be delivered in 2024.
North Star CEO Matthew Gordon, said:
We are thrilled to be expanding our offshore wind fleet through further building contracts with VARD.
VARD is one of the world’s most well-respected, high-quality shipyard groups, with an unrivalled track record for reliability in the C/SOV market. We have built an excellent relationship over recent years, allowing us to bring high quality vessels to the market on time. Ensuring speed of delivery for these ships was a key factor in our decision to select VARD as our continued building partner, demonstrating our commitment to building a versatile and leading service capability to meet the needs of our offshore wind clients.
We continue to be supported by our majority shareholder, Partners Group, and our scalable corporate debt facilities as we look to increase our offshore wind fleet. Having robust financial backing in place is critical to allowing us the capability to meet our clients’ project needs at short notice. With the offshore wind market growing at pace across the UK and Europe, commitment to these new vessels allow us to offer flexibility and reliability to clients on future tenders where yard slots are expected to be scarce.
CSOVs are highly versatile platforms for all offshore windfarm support operations, focusing on onboard logistics, comfort, large storage capacities and superior operability. North Star’s design is prepared for future operation on methanol, providing a sustainable option. Furthermore, they are also equipped with a high-performance daughter craft with space for a second to suit clients’ operational needs.
The new CSOVs will be equipped with technology from Vard Electro’s flexible SeaQ portfolio, covering solutions for power, control, bridge and navigation, and communication. The SeaQ package constitutes a great advantage and by utilizing battery technology for hybrid operations, the SeaQ delivery facilitates for even smarter, and more energy-efficient operations for reduced emissions and fuel consumption.
VARD CEO, Alberto Maestrini, says the contract with North Star shows VARD’s leading position in the market:
The new contracts with North Star contributes to strengthening VARD’s leading position within the market for offshore windfarm support vessels. We are very proud of being selected by North Star and we will provide vessels with innovative solutions specifically developed by VARD for this type of applications.
These contracts are in line with our mission to enable sustainable business at sea: as a shipbuilder, it is a huge motivation for us to be able to effectively contribute to the green transition.
SVP Sales in VARD Runar Vågnes, appreciates North Star choosing VARD once more:
We are happy and proud to welcome North Star back as a customer. Being selected again as their shipbuilder of choice shows that we are on top of the market and the evolving demands for sustainability. VARD is leading the way and adapting to the new markets in close dialogue with our partners and customers. We look forward to further collaboration with North Star.
The hulls of the agreed first two SOVs will be built at one of VARD’s yards in Romania and outfitted, commissioned, and delivered from one of the yards in Norway. The delivery of the initial CSOV fleet is scheduled for the first half of 2025.