New vessel gives industry a boost
GRIMSBY'S position as a key hub for operations and maintenance activity in the offshore wind industry has received the "ultimate" blessing – with the unveiling of a Hull company's first crew transfer vessel.
Once fierce rival fishing ports, the launch in the reinvented Port of Grimsby East served as a clear demonstration of the united Humber vision, with companies on both banks working together to maximise the area's potential with the assets available.
And with the £30 million grant in the form of Regional Growth Fund money heading the Humber's way, there was an optimistic mood as the Rix Panther was put on show. She is the first of five vessels from Rix Shipping that will help meet the anticipated demand to get engineers out to the thousands of turbines to be located off the British coastline – many of which are on the estuary's doorstep in the southern North Sea.
And while the first two are from Blyth, Northumberland, Humber-firm Dunston will build the final three for the newly formed Rix Sea Shuttle division. It represents a £7.5 million investment over the next two years.
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It was a perfect send-off for many in the industry who will represent the area at a major renewable energy exhibition in Glasgow this week, with a strong turnout at Humber Cruising Association to view the Rix Panther. The 19m by 8m aluminium catamaran can carry 12 technicians and is capable of speeds of up to 25 knots.
James Doyle, director of Rix Shipping, said it was a "fantastic moment" to see the first of the five boats finally in the water.
He said: "We have been working on the sea shuttles project for a number of years now because we believe it is a growth area, so this is the culmination of a great deal of planning and effort.
"We are already in advanced discussions regarding the commissioning of this boat and the others that are due to be completed soon with some of the sector's biggest players, and securing those contracts could well lead to further investment."
Mr Doyle, who said he would ultimately like to see their vessels operating out of the port, added: "Grimsby was chosen as it is a base port for some of the offshore wind business currently underway. We also have a good relationship with Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises through our marine bunkering division."
Representatives from all parts of the sector were there, including fellow operators Arthur Smith and Windpower Support.
Damien Jaines-White, economic development manager for North East Lincolnshire Council, added: "This is really showing what the Humber has to offer, from manufacturing all the way through to operations and maintenance, we have every individual aspect covered.
"With the recent Regional Growth Fund announcement, it also serves to show that we have a stronger Humber opportunity, that we can all benefit and share in, and all put the work in too."
Roger Smith, marine operation and business development manager for Port of Grimsby East, added: "Vessels can now be built on the Humber and operate from Grimsby. It is great news for the Humber. We are still developing Grimsby as an operations and maintenance hub for the east coast and we continue to work hard."