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United Kingdom

Ferry operator P&O makes first move into offshore O&M

UK: Centrica Renewable Energy has signed a deal with ferry-operator P&O to adapt one of its vessels into a mothership for technicians working on North Sea wind farms.

The deal, which is a first for P&O, will involve Centrica taking a three-to-four month charter of the 23,000-tonne European Seaway. The ship will be manned by P&O Ferries’ deck, technical and catering crew providing local hotel services to Centrica staff.

It will be anchored seven kilometres off the coast of eastern England whilst technicians undertake operations and maintenance work at the 194MW Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farm.

The 180-metre vessel was refitted at the Arno Dunkirk shipyard in France. The boat's design allows for the vehicle decks to be used for storage and kit. P&O claims the ferry is well-suited for its role because, unlike a passenger ferry, it has a large area of open deck space to provide an offshore work platform.

Prior to this European Seaway ran the Dover-Zeebrugge and Dover-Calais routes from its launch in 1991 until October last year.

P&O Ferries CEO Helen Deeble said the company was looking to leverage its skills is new areas. She added: "Our initial focus has been upon our maritime skills and this has led us to the renewables sector."

The ship is no stranger to deployment to offshore wind farms. It was chartered by developer Vattenfall in September 2010 to take guests from the port of Ramsgate to the official opening of the Thanet wind farm.

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