Portsmouth Marine Terminal receives its first offshore wind turbine monopiles, weighing 1,500 tons each. Photo: Port of Virginia

Port of VA Receives First Massive Offshore Wind Components

The offshore wind industry is kicking into full gear at the Port of Virginia with the arrival of eight massive wind turbine parts. A facility at Portsmouth Marine Terminal is being repurposed from handling containers to handling huge the components that are needed to build offshore wind turbines.

Eight monopiles, which will be used as the foundation of the turbines, were offloaded this past week. It took two days to transfer the monopiles, which are over 250 feet long and weigh 1,500 tons. This is the first shipment of components for Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project.

It was a trial of sorts for the deep-water port terminal, and port leaders are calling it a success.

“We are investing in PMT to ensure it can handle this kind of cargo and it easily passed this first test,”
said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “There is going to be a lot activity taking place here during the next year, and The Port of Virginia is going to establish itself as the Mid-Atlantic’s logistics hub for offshore wind.”

The Port of Baltimore is undertaking a similar effort, building a new facility at Sparrows Point to construct steel components like monopiles, as Bay Bulletin reported in April 2023. Both the Maryland and Virginia port authorities are positioned to take major roles in wind turbine construction.

Port of Virginia leaders say the Norfolk Harbor is ideal for the offshore wind industry because there are no overhead obstructions to restrict the movement of large cargo or specialized vessels, like those that will be needed to build and install the wind turbines offshore.

The CVOW project the components will be used for is eventually going to include 176 turbines on a lease site 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

As the offshore wind industry steams ahead in Virginia, the U.S. Coast Guard Mid-Atlantic is working to be ready for emergencies that may arise.

Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a search and rescue exercise with Dominion Energy at the site of the CVOW project. A rescue crew from Air Station Elizabeth City carried a rescue swimmer to the site 27 miles off the coast. Watch below:

Video by PA2 Ryan Noel/U.S. Coast Guard Mid-Atlantic

The Coast Guard video shows the swimmer lowered directly onto the powered-down wind turbines, where the crew members rendezvoused with Dominion Energy technicians and simulated a rescue. In the video post, the Coast Guard says, “The goal of the unique training was to identify challenges, understand limitations, and develop solutions to uphold our commitment to search and rescue and safety at sea.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano