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Hornbeck Orders First U.S. OSV to SOV Conversion at Eastern Shipbuilding

SOV conversion
Eastern Shipbuilding will convert an OSV built in 2014 to a SOV for Hornbeck targeting the offshore wind sector (Eastern Shipbuilding)

Published Jul 12, 2023 3:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

Seeking to address the growing demand for vessels from the emerging U.S. offshore wind sector, Hornbeck Offshore Services has contracted Eastern Shipbuilding Group to convert a nearly decade-old offshore supply vessel to become a service operation vessel. The ship, which was built by Eastern, is U.S. flag, Jones Act compliant, and will be capable of supporting both construction and maintenance activities for either the wind sector or the petro-energy market for flotels.

“This SOV conversion is a transformational project that will serve the emerging U.S. offshore wind market,” said Joey D’Isernia, CEO of Eastern Shipbuilding Group. “We are proud to be the first shipbuilding company to blaze this trail with a vessel we crafted and with our great partners at Hornbeck Offshore Services.”

The vessel was constructed by Eastern Shipbuilding Group in 2014 and will be converted at the company’s Allanton Shipyard in Panama City, Florida. The vessel, which is 280 feet in length, is one of those recently acquired by Hornbeck, which has been working to expand to service the offshore wind sector. The conversion project is due to be completed in the spring of 2025.

"We are excited to expand our deep experience in walk-to-work and offshore accommodation services with a fully capable SOV for the benefit of the offshore wind community and our offshore petroleum clients," said Todd Hornbeck, President and CEO of Hornbeck Offshore Services.

The redesign of the vessel is being carried out with VARD, which originally designed the ship, and is designed to meet the needs of the U.S. offshore wind sector. It will have the capacity to accommodate up to 90 or more persons in flotel or offshore wind service mode. Among the features will be stepless walk-to-work transfer capabilities in up to 8-foot seas, a motion-compensated offshore gangway, a 10-ton 3D-compensated crane, a helideck, an enclosed warehouse, and a stepless boat landing.  

As part of the conversion, the vessel will also be adapted to a hybrid power system. Its existing diesel-electric powerplant will be enhanced by a 1,500 kW-hour battery hybrid power system. The hybrid capability will mean that the ship can operate with reduced emissions during offshore operations and in harbor transit. 

One of the challenges that many analysts have highlighted is the anticipated shortage of vessels ready to support the growth in offshore operations as wind energy comes online. The industry is spurring new shipbuilding, especially for crew vessels but there remains a perceived supply gap, especially for Jones Act compliant vessels.

Hornbeck announced in February 2023 that it had entered into a deal with an affiliate of Edison Chouest Offshore, Nautical Solutions, to acquire six high-spec offshore supply vessels. Each of the vessels is U.S.-flagged, Jones Act-qualified, 280 class DP-2 OSVs with capacities of circa 4,750 DWT. Based on certain conditions, the company anticipated taking serial deliveries of all six vessels over the next 12 to 15 months.