Growing ambition

Co-formed by practised marine engineers, Paul Walsh and Eddie Ward, who both had experience on the UK’s first ever offshore wind farm at North Hoyle, Offshore Wind Power Marine Services (OWPMS) has grown to offer some of the most comprehensive services for the offshore renewable sector. Recognising the market need for purpose built crew transfer vessels that could be used for all phases of wind farm construction, maintenance, operation and support in 2003, the pair received their first boat in 2006. Having gained instant employment at the Burbo Bank Offshore Wind farm that comprises of 25 efficient turbines situated on the Burbo Flats of Liverpool Bay, this vessel sparked a great deal of interest, initiating substantial fleet expansion. Today the company owns and operates six vessels from its headquarters in North Wales.

Built on a track record of reliable and professional service, the organisation’s swift and lucrative growth has been hindered in the past few years by the world financial crisis that saw its lender shut down overnight and tenders for vessels being subsequently rejected. However, positive recovery came in the form of the Brook Henderson Group that, at the start of 2010, pledged substantial financial support to buoy up the company’s activities. As part of its strategy to enter the renewable energy sector the Brook Henderson Group has pledged over £60 million of asset finance, enabling OWPMS to build as many vessels as it needs to regain its position in the market. This joint venture has also given the company the ability to develop new designs and types of vessels to meet the changing and evolving requirements of its client base.

Paul Walsh, founder and managing director of OWPMS, explains: “As a result of this backing we are now engaged with some extremely talented marine engineers and architects, who together with our in-house engineering company are developing new vessel solutions to add to our arsenal. The first two of these vessels have been ordered and are due for delivery in summer 2011, while our continued focus on premier design for vessels, access systems, fleet structures and crew training are part of an integrated approach to the future of the market. The main benefit of this move is that it has made our customers aware of our situation and has installed confidence for re-approaching us. We are now working very closely with a number of industry heavyweights such as Dong Energy, npower renewables and Siemens to create bespoke vessels that are tailored to meet individual needs and locations. It has given us a lot of opportunity to not only develop the business with regards to superb quality vessels, but also with advanced training, logistical support, financial support and technical expertise.”

Currently OWPMS is focusing its activities on the UK market where the majority of construction work is taking place, while additional emphasis is also being placed on the North American and Asian arenas that offer great growth potential for the coming years. The fleet at the moment is predominantly made up of 15.5 metre aluminium boats that have been designed specifically for close to shore projects, while the latest vessels are starting to meet the demands of wind farms further offshore. As the renewable sector heads to deeper waters and greater distances from the shore, the requirement for boats of bigger sizes and dimensions increases. New vessels are intended to meet the long-term needs of the market with the capability to reach speeds up to 35 knots, while being more economical to run utilising alternative fuels in association with a leading UK based university. The two 2011 solutions are innovative 18-metre turbine transfer and 21-metre wind farm support vessels that will be capable of a variety of roles including turbine transfer work, general wind farm, dive and survey support.

The company is looking to provide the full package from design and commission to construction, service and fabrication. Originally it outsourced the construction of all of its vessels, but as the industry grew it decided to become independent and develop its own boats in-house giving the ability to build in quantity exclusively for its own customers. The on-site engineering facility is also designed to give the latest support, while access to a fabrication site has given the additional capacity to develop modular containers for onboard storage and use. This is a major advantage considering that the market demand is now higher than ever.

Indeed, over the coming three years alone, OWPMS is due to build an impressive 60 vessels as part of its joint venture with the Brook Henderson Group. As the renewable energy market continues to expand the potential for such companies is huge and round three of the wind farm project sites will be further afield and of substantially bigger influence. OWPMS’ design team is already investigating the logistics needs of operating further offshore and the requirements for additional accommodation facilities and harsher climates. “We are highly optimistic about the future based on the fact that we have a really good working relationship with our current clients and feel that we can only enhance this by providing them with the vessels they require. Every wind farm is different and we have the experience and capacity to meet every need,” Paul concludes.

Recently gained £60 million of financial backing

Delivering two vessels in summer 2011

Looking to the further offshore renewable sector