If you pay a visit to the Outer Harbour you will notice a new vessel has arrived at the Port. The WaveCraft Surface Effect Ship Umoe Firmus
arrived on Sunday. The specification and capabilities of the WaveCraft vessel has led it to be seen as a potential game changer for the UK offshore wind industry. It is the first of its kind not just for the Port of Wells but for the whole of the UK.
Statkraft has chartered Umoe Firmus to support its O&M operations at the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm and its performance there is sure to be of keen interest to the UK's major offshore wind farm developers and operators.
The WaveCraft uses an air cushion between its catamaran hulls to lift 80% of the vessel out of the water. The small draught that this creates provides the vessel with easy access to ports, especially those like Wells-next-the-Sea which are subject to tidal restrictions. It is claimed that this also enables the vessel to travel at speeds of in excess of 40 knots whilst maintaining a low fuel consumption, resulting in a range of more than 700 nautical miles. It is also claimed that managing the pressure of the air cushion according to wave height allows for smoother voyages and provides a greatly increased opportunity for access to turbines – up to wave heights of 2.5 metres, or even higher in a swell.
The vessel was manufactured by Umoe Mandal in Norway and is 27m in length.