The survey route of Westerly on March 23, left, and the path of another boat, Keenan, surveying on February 3 for planned maintenance dredging next year. (Source: MarineTraffic.com
The survey route of Westerly on March 23, left, and the path of another boat, Keenan, surveying on February 3 for planned maintenance dredging next year. (Source: MarineTraffic.com
While GO Liberty, a ship surveying for the New England Aqua Ventus offshore wind power demonstration project, was being buzzed by angry fishermen near Monhegan Island last week, a smaller companion boat, Westerly, spent two days making lawn-mowing patterns over the shipping channel next to Mack Point Terminal in Searsport, 50 miles north of the offshore wind site.

The New England Aqua Ventus project is a joint venture of Diamond Offshore Wind, a subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation, and RWE Renewables, working in collaboration with the University of Maine.

The demonstration project, involving a single floating 9.5-10 MW wind turbine, is intended to test the waters for future offshore windpower installations in the Gulf of Maine.

On a visit to Searsport in March 2020, Gov. Janet Mills described offshore wind as “poised to become a $1 trillion industry by 2040” and called for an assessment of Searsport’s capability to support the industry. The port has received components for numerous on-shore wind farms, some of which were at the port at the time of the governor’s visit.

The New England Aqua Ventus turbine and its floating base — designed by the University of Maine — will be fabricated by Cianbro in Brewer, then joined in Searsport and towed to the test site, according to a description on the New England Aqua Ventus website. Project representatives did not immediately respond to a request for information about the surveying in Searsport.

The area being surveyed last week is the same location that two bales of shredded plastic were dropped into the bay in December while being unloaded from a ship hailing from Northern Ireland.

The location is also scheduled for maintenance dredging in 2022. A survey boat belonging to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent several days in February making laps in the area between the docks and Sears Island.