Tenant Spotlight: DEME Offshore US

When it comes to sustainability, one shipyard tenant is "blowing" the competition away by harnessing the power of wind.

DEME Offshore US is a part of DEME Group, a global company specializing in dredging, marine infrastructure, offshore wind support, and more. Their Offshore US headquarters are located right here in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina. 

Vineyard Offshore Wind Project

The team is led by president and CEO Bill White, who is a Massachusetts native and previously spent a decade working in Washington D.C. for the Clinton Administration. White returned to Massachusetts “to do something great,” and that meant offshore wind. 

When White got his start in the industry, it was “just an idea.” He worked on creating a port in New Bedford to be a “staging ground” for offshore wind projects. 

White was later recruited by DEME to lead their US operations. White has seen a “full circle” when it comes to offshore wind in the United States, being involved “from the conceptual, to the actual development, and now into the execution” of large-scale projects.

DEME Offshore US is one of the primary contractors for the Vineyard Wind Project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. This role involves transporting manufactured components from Europe to the site for installation, as well as putting a placement of rock around the foundation to “preserve the integrity of the structure.” The project's electricity is connected via cables to a Hyannis substation before being dispersed throughout the New England grid. The Vineyard Wind I project is planned to produce 800 megawatts of electricity – or enough to power 400,000 homes – by its completion. 

The wind resource along Cape Cod is “among the best in the world,” according to White, which means the turbines are generating electricity approximately 90% of the time. The offshore winds in this region are stronger than those onshore, and are more consistent. They also “produce power at the exact time when the grid needs it,” says White. There is a lot of wind during New England winters, for example, when there is high energy demand as people are heating their homes.

Vineyard Wind Project Foundations Installation

For DEME, impact and safety are “front and center” on all their projects. This applies to not only their team, but also marine mammals, particularly whales. “We only pile during times when there are no whales around,” says White. Historic data helps determine when the migratory season is for whales, and no construction takes place during these months, typically between January and April. During construction, there are “protected species observers on all of [their] vessels” equipped with technology for them to monitor the area. “Anyone who detects a marine mammal has the ability to call for a full stop,” and all activity will cease until the mammals clear the area on their own.

In addition to the protected species observers on the vessels, acoustical buoys are deployed in the water to listen for any marine species that may be in the water. With these buoys, “the experts can detect how far away they are, what kind of species,” says White, “and when to stop installation.”

While installing these turbines, the DEME Offshore US crew implements a “bubble curtain” system around the worksite. Because the pile driving work generates noise, the creation of a bubble curtain around the site helps contain and muffle the sound. Small vessels manned by local union workers lay special hoses around the worksite, which then produce a high volume of bubbles to create a “cone” around the structure. Any sound from construction will bounce off the bubbles, keeping noise contained and muffled to not disturb the area.

Vineyard Wind Project Wind Turbine Installation

White describes DEME’s location in the shipyard as having a “certain authenticity,” which is why they like it so much. “It is a working area,” says White, “and it reflects the DEME culture of being at the waterfront.” When DEME Offshore US joined the shipyard, they had only two team members at this location, but have now grown to over 25 staff and counting. “Thanks to Marshall and his team for working with us,” says White, “our employees love being in East Boston, a number of them live and rent here. It’s a beautiful community.”

Why become involved in the wind industry? Because it has “mission and purpose,” says White. “I don’t know of anything so impactful than building the clean energy economy."

While US operations are headquartered in the shipyard, DEME Offshore US recently opened a second office in Norfolk, Virginia where they are beginning work on Dominion Energy's Coastal Virginia Offshore Project. When completed, this project will produce 2600 megawatts of power and be the largest offshore wind project in the United States

Learn more about DEME Offshore US and how they are building the clean energy economy around the globe by visiting their website. 

DEME Offshore