Ocean City, Md. — Deepwater Wind, beginning a new intensive phase of work on its Skipjack Wind Farm, deployed oceanographic vessels and dozens of experts tasked with completing Deepwater Wind’s multi-million dollar offshore research. This months-long geophysical and geotechnical survey off the coasts of Maryland and Delaware will involve five specialized vessels as large as 145 feet, plus 75 personnel, including engineers, biologists, archaeologists and mariners.
The survey, which will collect valuable data about the sea floor, marks a key milestone in Deepwater Wind’s plan to develop the Skipjack Wind Farm that will generate enough energy to power 35,000 homes. These surveys are required as part of Deepwater Wind’s construction and operations plan, and the extensive data collected will help inform the design and exact location of the turbines.
Deepwater Wind commissioned the Hanover, Md., office of sub-sea engineering company Oceaneering to perform the survey, in keeping with Deepwater Wind’s commitment to building Maryland’s offshore wind workforce.
“We are deploying major offshore assets this week to move full-steam ahead with the Skipjack Wind Farm,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind. “The survey will provide detailed scientific data about the ocean floor, so that we can place turbine foundations and sub-sea cables in precisely the best locations. The findings will help us construct a world-class offshore wind farm, while also helping to build a world-class offshore wind workforce in Maryland. At the end of the scientific survey, we will know more about this slice of the ocean than ever before and be closer to building a project Maryland can be proud of.”
The survey will be conducted aboard the 145-foot Merchant Vessel Danielle Miller, which was outfitted for the work at the Port of Baltimore. Additional modules have been added to the ship, including a cutting-edge data processing lab and high-bandwidth satellite communications link. A full suite of high-tech survey technology, including sonar, magnetometer and tools to measure the depth and slope of the seafloor, will be used to map the seafloor and geology and account for any areas of ecological or historical significance. The vessel also has an acoustic monitoring system and thermal imaging cameras staffed by marine biologists participating in the survey. Additional vessels will provide supplies, soil sampling, and seabed biologic assessments over the course of the mission.
Skipjack Wind Farm will be located in the ocean waters northeast of Ocean City, Md., 19.5 miles away from the Maryland-Delaware border. At that distance, Skipjack is the best offshore wind option to minimize visual impacts from the Ocean City shoreline.
Deepwater Wind plans to invest approximately $200 million in Maryland during Skipjack’s construction phase, including $25 million for a new steel fabrication facility and $13 million for ports in the Greater Baltimore area. The company also plans to establish the project’s permanent Operations and Maintenance facility in the greater Ocean City area. In total, Deepwater Wind has committed to spurring the creation of 1,400 direct jobs for the Skipjack Wind Farm over the project’s life.
In May 2017, the Maryland Public Service Commission designated the Skipjack Wind Farm a “Qualified Offshore Wind Project.” Offshore construction is on schedule to start as early as 2021, with the wind farm coming online in 2022.