SES demonstration run

'Sea Puffin' on seatrials
'Sea Puffin' on seatrials
Air cushion access vessel demonstration
Air cushion access vessel demonstration

Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, recently took a demonstration tour aboard the ‘Sea Puffin’, the world’s first offshore wind daughter craft based on Surface-Effect-Ship technology.

This innovative design uses air cushion technology to dampen out motions in rough seas, enhancing comfort for crew and passengers. This allows for improved access to offshore wind turbines in harsh weather conditions, at the same time saving fuel consumption.

The development of the Sea Puffin 1 has been supported through the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator, a collaborative research and innovation programme part-funded by the Scottish Government, with remaining funding coming directly from nine offshore wind developers. The 15-metre long daughter craft – designed by the Norwegian company, ESNA – can be launched from aboard a larger mother ship. It is owned and operated by WindPartner, a company that specialises in operations & maintenance for the offshore wind industry.

After the vessel’s successful first stage of trials in Denmark, the second phase is looking at performance in more exposed offshore conditions that are typically found further out to sea. These are being conducted at Equinor and Masdar’s Hywind Scotland Pilot Park, the world’s first commercial floating offshore wind farm, located 25 kilometres off the coast of Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.

Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, said: “I’m delighted that Sea Puffin has been supported through the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator, which was part-funded by the Scottish Government. Mechanisms like this help support and grow the renewables sector. Having been out on the vessel, I have to say it was a very smooth and enjoyable experience.”

Dan Kyle Spearman, Manager of Offshore Wind Access Systems, the Carbon Trust, said: “With the right support, innovative ideas can be quickly become reality. We provided initial support for the Sea Puffin back in 2016 and today it is exciting to see a state-of-the-art vessel in operation, proving what it can really do.”

A SES catamaran uses fans directing pressure between the hulls to lift the vessel higher in the water than it would naturally sit. This reduces the hull drag and means it has a lower power requirement to achieve the same speed as a comparable conventional vessel.

By Jake Frith

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