The first rules aimed at establishing a set of uniform standards for the growing fleet of vessels that serve offshore wind farms have been published.
International classification society Det Norske Veritas has put together the guidelines and the first vessel being built to them is already under construction at South Boats Medina Shipyard on the Isle of Wight.
Wind farms require specialist vessels not just during their construction but also afterwards for maintenance and repair work. The recently-completed 100-turbine Thanet Offshore Windfarm off the Kent coast involved 30 such vessels.
Historically, local fishing boats were used, but now bespoke craft are needed. However, these are usually built and operated to domestic standards and rules applicable to the country where they are employed. This has been problematic when operators wish to transfer vessels to other jurisdictions across Europe.
DNV has devised two classes of vessel. Windfarm Service 1 applies to craft trading domestically with up to 12 passengers and Windfarm Service 2 is for craft carrying up to 60 passengers.