On 7 February, SeaOwls and Ulstein launched a pioneering heavy lift jack-up vessel design, the SOUL, at the Offshore Wind Journal Conference. The cruciform structural layout makes the patent-pending solution more than ten per cent lighter than conventional jack-up vessel designs. In combination with a high capacity crane, SOUL enables operators to take the next step in developing offshore wind farms. The concept aims to install the next generation wind turbines (10-12 MW) in the same time frame as currently used for installing 6-8 MW units, a significant efficiency gain over any jack-up vessel design currently available in the market.

“A twist in the design allowed us to make a huge improvement in operational aspects as well,” adds Bram Lambregts, deputy-managing director at Ulstein Design & Solutions BV. “With the main crane around the stern leg, optimal main deck reach and over-the-side lifting capabilities is created. And as the hull now houses much larger leg footings, bearing pressures on the seabed are reduced, while the wake of the spud cans does not interfere with the inflow to the propulsion thrusters.”

The SOUL series will come in various sizes, allowing the transport of three up to six of the 10-12MW wind turbines. Still, all loading and installation operations can be performed without the need of ballast water.