Transportation of offshore wind turbine blades is being made easier with a 75m long shallow water barge designed to meet the precise demands of both cargo and delivery route.

'Blade Runner Two'

Williams Shipping's Blade Runner Two transports offshore wind turbine blades. Photo: Williams Shipping

Williams Shipping operates the purpose-built Blade Runner Two (BR2) blade transport barge to transport the 80m long blades manufactured by Vestas on the Isle of Wight. The Vestas factory near Newport is on the River Medina, on the site of the old cement mills, so BR2 has a ‘Medina Bow’ engineered to suit this berth. A ‘Solent Bow’ provides versatility for the rest of the journey.

“We are very proud of our skilled BR2 crews,” said Julian Shawyer, marine supervisor (Blades) at Williams Shipping. “Their experience and care ensure safe delivery of this valuable cargo, helping secure our reputation as trusted service providers to the renewable energy sector.”

BR2 is crewed by a local team of 16 on four shifts. Each crew of four act as ship’s captain, mate and two deck hands at sea, and at the quayside they become the blade lifting team. The blades are loaded with Williams Shipping’s crawler cranes by two crane drivers and two slinger/signallers who supervise the lifting operation to load and unload cargo.

After collecting the blades, BR2 ships them to the Fawley Waterside Vestas finishing facility in Southampton. Here the blades are painted and finished before being delivered by BR2 to a Load Out port (Southampton or Portsmouth) ready to be shipped to projects around the UK and Europe.

Most of the blades supply UK offshore wind facilities. The rest are exported to wind farms off the coast of northern Europe.

By Rebecca Jeffrey