A new partnership between Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind and the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies will result in technology that simulates navigation near offshore wind farms.

The simulator will be made available to mariners and will allow them to “virtually” experience piloting through a commercial-scale offshore wind farm, Orsted officials have announced.

The simulator is located in Linthicum Heights, Md., and will simulate Orsted’s Ocean Wind project which will be located 15 miles off the New Jersey Coast and the Revolution Wind project will be located 15 miles off the Rhode Island Coast.

Ocean Wind is Orsted’s largest project, at 1,100 megawatts; Revolution wind is a 704 MW project.

Currently, there are no easily accessible offshore commercial-scale wind farms off the United States Coast. One of nine wind farm projects planned by Orsted is the Skipjack Wind Farm, a 120-megawatt wind farm to be located 17 miles off the Delaware coast. Currently, the Skipjack project is in the planning stages as Orsted works to find a connection point where power generated by wind turbines could be brought to shore.

Efforts to bring the power on shore at Fenwick Island State Park came to a halt this year after considerable public protest following the introduction of the plans at an open house in Fenwick Island in October 2019.

“This innovative partnership with MITAGS has allowed us to enhance how we engage with our maritime stakeholders,” said John O’Keeffe, head of marine affairs at Orsted.

The program is in the early stages of roll-out, O’Keeffe said. “To date, we have had successful visits from the United States Coast Guard, the administrator of the Maritime Administration, as well as the president of the Masters, Mates and Pilots maritime union,” O’Keeffe said. Future demonstrations for other federal agencies are planned.

As far as connecting with Delaware mariners, O’Keeffe said Orsted is a member of the Delaware River Mariners Advisory Committee (MAC) and are in close contact with the local maritime industry.

O’Keeffe said “efforts are being made to invite mariners from Delaware” to experience the simulated navigation tool and that “we hope to welcome them to the simulator in 2021.

In addition to accessing the simulator in person, it will be able to viewed remotely, in real time, by mariners who are unable to travel due to restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The simulator allows “multiple bridge capabilities,” with six-part tasks integrated into to the virtual navigation exercise, which takes mariners from load port to the offshore wind farms.

O’Keeffe said reaction to the simulation program from Maryland and Delaware mariners, has been “overwhelmingly positive.

“The experience is much more impactful than talking about navigation based on project charts,” said Glenn Paine, executive director of MITAGS, which “greatly enhances safety and efficiency” for the mariners.

Staff Reporter

Kerin majored in journalism at Ohio University and has worked as an editor and reporter for monthly, daily and weekly publications in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware since 1983. A native of Baltimore, Md., she has lived in Ocean View since 1996.