Bibby to build world’s first zero-emission support vessel

Liverpool family firm Bibby awards contract for the building of the world’s first zero-emission windfarm support vessel costing tens of millions of pounds. Tony McDonough reports

Bibby Marine eCSOV
Image of Bibby Marine’s zero-emission electric commissioning service operation vessel


Bibby Marine has awarded a contract that will see the construction of what it claims will be the world’s first zero-emissions windfarm support vessel.

A division of Bibby Line Group, one of Liverpool’s oldest family firms, Bibby Marine has led a consortium developing its groundbreaking maintenance vessel for several years. In September 2023 it secured £20m from the Government to support the project.

Although it hasn’t revealed the cost of its zero-emission electric commissioning service operation vessel (eCSOV), previous estimates have put the figure at between £40m and £50m.

Following a tendering process involving a variety of yards in the UK and overseas, Gondan Shipbuilders in Spain was selected by Bibby Marine, with an offer that it says stood out in terms of timeline, budget and quality.

Gondan’s proven track record in building bespoke, specialist vessels was also a strong factor in selecting the firm to build this new vessel.

Designed in collaboration with UK-based ship designers Longitude this new eCSOV will feature a battery system, complemented by dual-fuel methanol engines for emissions-free operations.

It will be the first vessel to operate solely on battery power for more than 16-hours between charging cycles, allowing workers to operate a full shift between charges. The vessel will also be capable of drawing energy directly from turbines.

Bibby Marine currently operates two SOVs powered by conventional fuel. They are floating powerhouses that provide support for offshore facilities such as wind farms and gas and oil fields.

They carry up to 90 people for weeks at a time and they have huge power needs. Each vessel generates 6-7 MW of power. In a year both vessels will use enough energy to power 800 homes and 18m miles of car journeys. It adds up to 14,000 tonnes of CO2.

Bibby Marine chief executive Nigel Quinn said: “This is an exciting next step for our project, and we are delighted to have found a partner in Gondan Shipbuilders, who will bring our clean vision to life.

“Gondan’s 100 year-experience of building ships and more recent experience of building ships to suit a low / no carbon future, aligns closely with our own history and vision, which meant it stood out as a yard to help us deliver our eCSOV.

“As a UK-owned company, we are pleased this vessel will be the first UK-designed CSOV and a UK-flagged vessel.

“We will continue to work alongside our established supply chain and local academia, to ensure UK shipyards are engaged, and have the opportunity to learn, throughout the process.


Nigel Quinn
Chief executive of Bibby Marine, Nigel Quinn
Bibby Wavemaster 1
Bibby Wavemaster 1, an offshore support vessel on the Mersey. Picture by Tony McDonough


“We want this project to support the ambition to turn the UK into the world’s number one centre for green technology.”

This project is part of the Zero Emission Vessels and Infrastructure (ZEVI) scheme, funded by the UK Department for Transport (DfT) and delivered by Innovate UK.

“The delivery of this vessel has the potential to be a game changer for our industry by accelerating our path to net-zero, as well as showcasing marine innovation at its finest,” added Nigel.

“This project will demonstrate that clean ships can be built at the same total cost of ownership as a conventional fossil burning vessel, coupled with significantly reduced operating costs.”

READ MORE: Mersey docks at Eastham to run on hydropower

The investment is the first new vessel commissioned by Bibby since WaveMaster Horizon SOV was launched in 2019.

Bibby Line Group chief executive, Jonathan Lewis, said: “I am delighted that we are investing into world-leading green technology within the marine sector, in which we have operated throughout our 200+ year history.”

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