In the deal, Aberdeen-based W3G Marine (W3GM) and Dutch firm IHC Merwede, will develop W3GM’s offshore wind turbine installation ship (OWTIS).

The vessel, which the companies have described as ‘industry changing’, will be equipped with a unique 1,500-tonne crane and a patented lift system, which it’s claimed should allow fully assembled turbines to be installed in ‘one lift onto pre-installed foundations’.

It also claims to offer improved safety by reducing the amount of tasks involved in installation and more environmentally friendly as the process has no contact with the seabed.

Both companies, said last month, they plan for the engineering design phase to be completed by the end of November 2011.

And, should this go to plan the vessel could be construction by the end of 2013 making it available for the 2014 installation season.

IHC Merwede is the global market leader for efficient dredging and mining vessels and equipment – with vast experience accumulated over decades – and a reliable supplier of complex integrated ships and supplies for offshore construction.

W3GM’s chief executive, Alan West, said: “The OWTIS developed by W3G Marine will bring an industry changing initiative to the way offshore wind turbines are installed.

“This will be achieved through the application of innovative design and operational expertise to significantly improve safety, minimise environmental impact, work in harsher weather and deeper waters, and reduce installation costs by at least one third.”

IHC Merwede president, Govert Hamers, said: “This vessel will set a new standard for productivity in the offshore wind turbine installation market.”

Luke Walsh

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