In a significant move, North Star, the leading UK provider of offshore infrastructure support services, has secured a landmark contract with Germany’s energy utility giant EnBW. The agreement involves the delivery of a cutting-edge hybrid-electric Service Operations Vessel (SOV) for a decade-long minimum charter to support the He Dreiht wind farm off the coast of Germany. This marks North Star’s first venture into the European offshore wind market, aligning with its ambitious growth strategy of adding 40 new SOVs to its fleet by 2040.
The newbuild, based on the VARD 407 design, has been customised to meet EnBW’s specific requirements. Featuring advanced technology such as Voith Schneider eVSP propulsion and prepared for the use of methanol as fuel, the vessel is equipped with a height-adjustable motion-compensated gangway, a 3D compensated crane, and North Star’s Decision Support system to support decarbonization efforts. The SOV is set to commence its long-term charter with EnBW from the end of next year, providing accommodation for up to 34 wind technicians and serving as a logistics hub and warehouse.
Caspar Blum, North Star’s European renewables lead, emphasized the significance of the He Dreiht wind farm, calling it “one of Europe’s largest energy transition projects.” Blum highlighted the company’s success in winning the contract through a highly regulated EU tendering process, showcasing North Star’s commitment to providing SOVs that seamlessly integrate into wind farm operations and O&M strategies.
Michael Splett, Global Head of O&M Wind Offshore at EnBW, expressed satisfaction with the partnership, stating that the vessel would be the backbone of their service and logistics operations at He Dreiht. He praised the vessel’s innovative, methanol-based propulsion system, aligning with EnBW’s commitment to decarbonising industry operations and optimising offshore wind farm performance.
This new contract marks North Star’s seventh newbuild SOV since entering the renewables market in 2021. The company’s first two SOVs, the Grampian Tyne and Grampian Derwent, were delivered ahead of schedule in 2023, with two more ships for the same UK North Sea client set for delivery in February and February 2025. North Star also recently cut the first steel on its second hybrid commissioning SOV, reflecting the increasing demand for O&M work in Europe’s offshore wind sector.
The hybrid SOV will be constructed by Cochin Shipyard Ltd, India, after a comprehensive assessment of pre-qualified shipyards by North Star to find one that to meet the company’s high build standards and on-time delivery criteria. North Star’s CFO Fraser Dobbie said they were “particularly impressed by their skills, expertise, and vast experience in constructing hybrid ships.” This is the first time that Cochin have been contracted to work with the company.
“With North Star’s on-site teams overseeing simultaneous SOV newbuild programmes at shipyards in India, Vietnam, Romania and Norway, this latest contract win marks another significant step in our journey towards adding 40 hybrid ships to our fleet by 2040,” said Dobbie.
The VARD 407, with its economical and capable design, offers superior offshore comfort for up to 60 technicians and versatile support for wind farm operations. With specifications like a length overall of 69.8 meters, 6,490 kW power, and a speed of 10 knots, the VARD 407 is a versatile design that will likely enhance North Star’s growing hybrid offshore wind fleet.