Wave Access project
The Wave Access vessel is a 25m aluminium rapid crew transfer vessel designed for the offshore industry, which its UK-based developers claim will bring significant benefits to operators in terms of cost, time and safety.
Developed by Coastal Charters of Whitehaven, Cumbria, the radical new vessel is designed to optimise the transportation for up to twelve passengers and three crew. Compared to vessels currently used in the offshore wind service, it will dramatically reduce fuel consumption, Coastal Charters claims, and achieve around twice the speed while maintaining safety and improving comfort. It is designed to significantly reduce the personnel costs to offshore operators through increased efficiency and reduced lost time and from an environmental perspective there is a reduced carbon footprint both in build and operation.
Coastal Charters foresaw in the offshore wind industry in-particular, as construction moves further offshore, a need for vessels to become faster and better able to cope with larger seas. Stability solutions cannot be achieved, the company argues, by simply building larger and larger craft especially when coupled with the dramatic rise in energy prices.
The project has benefitted from a £90,000 ‘Investing in Business’ grant from Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC), a Cumbrian funding initiative. To help get the project to the sea trial stage BEC have also made loans totalling £310,000, drawing on socio-economic funding from nuclear partners.
Stephen Beadsmoore, Director at Coastal Charters, said: “Whilst it has not been easy, it is rewarding that through a strong belief in the project and persistent determination that sufficient funds were raised to construct the demonstrator vessel. Britain’s Energy Coast identified with our vision and we are delighted with the financial support that we have received from them; without it this project could not have happened. This vessel is the start of a five phase plan that will hopefully see a manufacturing company set up here in West Cumbria providing high value, long term and sustainable employment.”
The Investing in Business programme targeted businesses involved in manufacturing, processing, engineering or fabrication activities, as well as tourism attractions, looking to create jobs by investing in fixed assets such as buildings, plant and equipment or for research and development. It utilised funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and a further £1m from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The programme is now closed, but financial support remains available through BEC ranging from capital grants to loans, to help bridge gaps in overall funding packages.
By Jake Frith