It is sad to see our European offshore wind friends and a domestic offshore wind trade organization endeared to them mount yet another attack on the domestic maritime industry with claims American mariners and operating companies are not capable of supporting the U.S. offshore wind industry, both in numbers and experience… If you have spent any amount of time in the U.S. GOM an have witnessed first hand the capabilities of the U.S. offshore work force including not only their expertise and skills, but also ability to meet cyclical market demands you know their attacks and assumptions are not based on fact.
It is true that some specialized foreign flagged vessels will need to be used specifically the large jack-up installation vessels…but do you really believe (as the opponents would have you believe) that only Eastern European Officers and Filipino ratings have the skill sets to operate large jack-up vessels with large cranes to install large offshore structures?
Do you really believe that the smaller support vessels that they attempt to equate to the larger installation and cable lay vessels even come close in terms of revenue potential to US operators? The opponents conveniently do not provide that analysis.
This is market share protectionism at its finest with an attempt at regulatory capture of U.S. markets by the big foreign offshore players.
Please read for your self and If you believe in the U.S. maritime industry and the Jones Act call your representation in Washington and let them know you support "American Offshore Worker Fairness Act, Section 518 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022 (H.R 6865).
In the early days of North Sea oil prospecting, drilling and exploitation it was all American.
The boats, rigs, barges and key personnel came straight from the GoM.
The equipment was little suited and the personnel little prepared for the conditions in the North Sea, especially in the winters.
Initially the activity was thus limited to the southern parts. Activity in the northern parts of the UK sector and in the adjacent Norwegian sector was summers only. Statements like; “This little pond ain’t even as big as the GoM” quickly died when they tried winter activity.
It didn’t take long before more suitable boats and rigs were designed and built in Europe and the locals learnt the trade. Maybe something similar to the early North Sea need to happen to the Offshore Wind Farm development in the US?
Good observations and points. Although “Offshore Wind” is new in the US like the early days of oil development in the North Sea, the similar and available technology is vastly different. Driving monopiles and installing scouring materials is not really all that different and in some ways much more low tech than current project in GOM or O&G fields around the world. There is no task done by “Offshore Wind Vessels” with international crews, that the US workforce could not replace today. Jack up operations? Offshore Crane Operations? Perhaps the best lesson we could learn from the early North Sea development is the development of cabotage laws and country specific maritime regulations that ensure domestic vessels and crews are used in our coastal waters We are behind on this, but are making great strides to patch the holes. That had as much to do with the early US vessels and mariners being replaced in the north sea than performance issues.
When were you there?
Things changed in the 1980s and 90s.
Not many Americans left working offshore in the North Sea (talents, or otherwise)
Don’t know if there are much American made equipment either for that matter.
That is very much the same as Norwegian fishermen said about anchor handling when when they joined OSVs. They were used to handle single screw boats and large purse seine nets in rough weather in the North Sea and beyond.
They did change things though; they got rid of the Pelican hooks and replaced it with Shark jaws that they were used to on the seiners.
They also went to tell Sigmund Borgundvåg, the head designer at Ulstein Trading at the time, what was wrong with the early UT 704s and gave him advise on how to make improvements.
He listened and learnt, that is why the UT 704 became the “gold standard” for OSVs in the 1970s/80s and he was named the “Father of the modern Offshore vessels” :
PS> It is no shame to learn from others. Not to is downright stupid.
What is it you hope to learn?
All the North Sea rim states, except Norway, IS/WAS member of EU (UK has now left EU)
Any rule limiting access to foreign flag vessels are thus EU rules, not domestic.
As for Norway; it does not have any maritime Cabotage law (Road transport, yes)
The only vessels that were banned from the Norwegian Offshore and Coastal trade were NIS registered vessels. (existed since1987)
That was partly lifted in 2015 to ensure NIS access to own waters and hopefully jobs for Norwegians:
If you have a vessel that can compete on costs and meet the requirements of any charterer operating in Norwegian waters, you are welcome to bid for any opportunity that you find, regardless of flag and nationality of crew.
Of course the vessel MUST meet NMA and IMO standard and Charterer’s technical requirement. Crews MUST be STCW’10 certified and meet all the requirements for safety and survival training that applies in Norwegian waters and EEZ.
If the vessel carry passengers in domestic trade, basic Scandinavian language proficiency is required, otherwise normal Maritime English per IMO is sufficient.
Oh yes, not to forget; you have to pay Norwegian wages and offer Norwegian employment conditions and benefits.
Obviously American seafarers would need much higher wages than the Eastern European Officers and Filipino Ratings. No Americans would work for the ITF rates that many Filipinos get, neither would they do the long rotations such as 4 months on 2 months off.
I wonder how much cost it would add to windfarm projects if everyone working on the vessels got paid higher American standards wages. Might it make it uneconomical to build the wind farms?
Many Eastern European officers are quite well paid in recent years, the living standards in their countries are catching up as they recover from Communism so their wages are much higher than 15+ years ago.
Another issue is that some of these vessels probably have quite limited cabin space, even if they wanted to take on extra American crew for jobs in American waters they might not have space for them. They would have to take off their experienced non-American crew and replace them with inexperienced American crew which might cause problems on projects.
Many of these ships move around the world doing jobs, so if they are only in American waters for a few months it might not be practical to take on Americans for a short period then take back their old crew for the jobs outside of American waters.
A lot of well paying long term jobs for Americans will be created on SOVs and CTVs for the operation and maintenance of wind farms. The jobs during the construction phase are only temporary, the O&M ones are better because they are long term.
Without the international workforce maybe it would be uneconomical to build windfarms in American waters, so then there wouldn’t even be the jobs for Americans during the O&M phases.
Yes… as you point out NMA standards… aka national laws have been written that whether intentional or not have an effect of exclusion of competition. And Norway requires you to pay a Norwegian living wage with benefits… much like what the American Offshore Worker Fairness act would require.
Almost no argument really holds water. Vessel operations including all Operation and Maintenace activities account for about 30% of the total cost for an offshore wind turbine. The installation vessel costs is a small percentage of this as most is for operational and maintenance support which will be US flagged and crewed. So the cost increase for the developers in using US crews on Installation vessel is not really a cost driver in the overall cost of the project. Making the argument that the Pilipino and eastern European mariners are more skilled and able to perform the work is weak at best. There are US mariners currently doing every task required. The argument that there are not enough US Mariners is interesting too. Has there been a single offshore wind contract offer refused by a US operator due to lack of crew?
Lets do not forget that the proposed legislation is not just about the offshore Wind Industry. It affects US Oil and Gas industry as well. And as such who are the organizations pushing hard agianst this legislation? IMCA is trying hard to squash this. IMCA is an amazing and unique standard bearer for many important safety standards world wide. But the darker side of IMCA is as a lobbyist protecting EU and other Non-US vessels operators access to the US market place and they are firmly supported by big oil… and of course big oil and EU owner operators would like to continue to operate vessels in US water paying low wages to international crews. ACP has also come out strong against this legislation, but who backs ACP primarily EU based offshore wind developers, EU based vessel operators, BIG Oil and the US based energy companies that have been lobbied heavily by thier EU based advisors to try to ensure the EU based operators can continue to operate their vessels in US water with foreign underpaid crews.
The argument that the US does not have the vesel capable of doing this work is true with the exception of one being built in Texas… But ask why? Lack of capital… No. Lack of Shipyard Capability? No. Lack of confidence in the US government to enforce a level playing field in US waters… Bingo! Yes! The vessels could be made here. There is a good amount of work that will be available to them. The President just annouced focusing Title IX financing on “Critical Offshore Wind Vessels”. The only factor holding back US owner/operators from making these vessels is the lack of confidence that CBP and the USCG will enforce current laws regarding the Jones Act and that Additional laws be provided to level the playing field.
NMA doesn’t write the Law, that is job of the Storting (Parliament). NMD make rules according to the Laws and ensure that IMO rules are followed by ships in both NOR and NIS Registries anywhere in the world.
Rules and regulations governing the activity of the Oil and Gas industry in Norwegian EEZ are the responsibility of several entities, incl. NMD when it comes to maritime matters.
Yes the rules are strict and being enforced, regardless of nationality of the Operator, Owner and manager, or flag of the vessels/rigs.
They are applied equally to everybody that operate in Norwegian EEZ. If you are not willing to comply with the rules and regulations you better stay away.
Maybe surprising to many here, but there are lots of foreign owned and foreign flag OSVs and rigs operating in Norway.
In fact a majority of the drilling rigs working in Norwegian waters are owned by foreign companies, such as;
Transocean, COSL, Saipem, Noble, Maersk etc.
OK… regional standards/regulations/laws… the point is they were made for a specific market that include special regional risk profiles and specific regional social requirements like pay rates equal to those afforded local mariners… sounds a lot like the proposed legislation IMCA et al are working so hard to eliminate in the US?
And like Norway the US would exclude those operators that do not want to comply with the US regulations for fair pay, and specialized coastal state requirements.
It is sad that IMCA is so mis-representing the facts of this legislation. They are amazing a developing industry standards, but are significantly adversely affecting their reputation with these continued sophomoric and sloppily reasoned attacks on US mariners and US vessel operating companies.