December 21 2014 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Thursday, February 6, 2014
A wind farm support company is investing £5.5m into new boats to meet the future demands of the offshore wind industry.
Lowestoft-based Iceni Marine Services has struck a deal with Great Yarmouth-based Alicat Workboats to buy two wind farm service vessels to expand its fleet to six boats.
The two catamarans will each carry 12 technicians alongside 3 crew members to and from wind farm developments in the UK and wider European waters.
Guy Gibson, director of Iceni Marine Services, said the company had to invest now to be ready for an upsurge in the region’s energy industry activity in two years time.
It comes just days after Lowestoft’s port was chosen as the operations and maintenance base for the giant Galloper wind farm being built off the Norfolk coast.
Mr Gibson, who served as an apprentice at the Alicat Workboats yard when it was known as Richards Dry Dock and Engineering, said: “Wind farm projects are being built and we do not want to be left behind. It takes about a year to build these boats, so we want to make sure that we are in front of our competitors.
“We are passionate about keeping the work local if we can and Great Yarmouth has got a great skills base.”
Iceni Marine Services had tendered for contracts in the USA and Australia, but opted to remain locally to take advantage of Alicat’s technical expertise.
Alicat Workboats said the deal – which will see the vessels delivered in March- provided a significant boost to the company amid increased overseas competition and uncertainty in the renewable energy market.
Simon Coote, general manager at Alicat, said: “We see 2014 as a transition year for us. We are now seeing a change in the type of boats we are building. They are getting larger to cater for the rising demand of the wind farms.
“But from an Alicat perspective, it’s about looking after the boats for the rest of their life by servicing and maintaining them.”
Question marks surround the fate of several development projects in and around King’s Lynn after the developers behind the project went into administration.