With increasing global focus on renewable energy and decarbonization, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry is applying its vast technical experience from the traditional offshore sector towards the renewable energy market. Efforts are being directed specifically to support offshore wind units such as wind turbine installation vessels (WTIVs), crew transfer vessels (CTVs), service operation vessels (SOVs), and floating offshore wind turbines (FOWTs). In fact, the RMI Registry has become the choice of flag for new WTIVs and FOWTs and remains the second largest registry, in terms of gross tonnage, for traditional offshore units.
International Registries, Inc. and its affiliates (IRI), which provide administrative and technical support to the RMI Registry, supports a Renewables Team, with team members around the world. The team provides support in developing global regulatory requirements for safety, security, and environmental protection, and technical support in meeting these regulatory requirements for projects around the world by helping to craft solutions that are tailored to the uniqueness of offshore wind units.
“WTIVs and FOWTs have a blend of operational modes and challenges,” said Cosmin Bozenovici, IRI’s Vice President, Technical – Offshore (IRI Houston) who heads up the Renewables Team. “There are idiosyncratic matters that need to be considered from a technical perspective since these are very specific ship types and some may carry cargo, carry on board more than 12 persons in addition to crew, have mobile offshore drilling unit features such as jack-up systems and helidecks, or even operate unmanned,” he continued. “Each of these operational modes has specific regulatory requirements and challenges and it is critical to get highly experienced and competent technical and regulatory support from the early stages of a wind project.”
Charles McHardy, Regulatory Affairs Specialist (IRI London), is a member of the RMI delegation at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and noted that the voice of the growing offshore wind industry needs to be heard at IMO and the RMI is strategically positioned to do this.
“It is often difficult to determine the applicable regulatory framework for these vessels,” said Mr. McHardy. “There are a range of international instruments that can, or should be applied, such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the Special Purpose Ship (SPS) Code, and the International Code of Safety for Ships Carrying Industrial Personnel (IP Code) which is currently being developed,” he continued. “Early determination of the best fit regulatory framework can have a considerable impact on the success of a project.”
Mr. McHardy outlined the value that the RMI brings to offshore wind units stating that:
The RMI delegation at IMO participates in all committee and sub-committee sessions and all ancillary working, drafting, expert, and correspondence groups in order to ensure that the crafting of regulations is done in a way that further enables the safe, secure, and environmentally responsible operation of international shipping. At the IMO, the RMI has, for many years, aimed to be the voice of the offshore industry and, more recently we are also striving to ensure that the offshore wind industry is similarly represented.
The Registry has recently flagged a range of vessels servicing the offshore wind industry including those providing construction, carriage of personnel, maintenance, support, survey, and service in addition to several semi-submersible floating wind turbines. These vessels are supporting projects in the United Kingdom, Singapore, South Africa, Malaysia, and Taiwan and the Registry is currently collaborating on a further newbuild project for wind turbine installation vessels, which are expected to be commissioned in 2023.
“Having 27 worldwide offices allows the Registry to adapt locally to the wind energy market, providing technical support and client service not only in local time, but also with intimate knowledge and understanding of the local and regional situation,” said Mr. Bozenovici, who noted that the Registry has seen increasing interest from the North Sea and Asia, areas of the world where the offshore wind industry is rapidly expanding.
“While these vessels may be non-traditional or even considered as unique, IRI’s strong history of supporting offshore vessels gives us the experience and perspective to proactively address regulatory and technical concerns for these multi-operation vessels,” said Mr. McHardy.
IRI’s Offshore Advisory Group, which includes representatives from the Classification Societies, as well as owners/operators and technical experts, includes offshore wind concerns and challenges in its meetings. The Offshore Advisory Group meets regularly and is looking forward to meeting again in the fourth quarter of 2021.
“As this sector continues to expand, the Registry is well positioned to meet the needs of these complex units and provide the support they need to achieve their objectives,” concluded Mr. Bozenovici.