The need for speed

Before the turn of the century, the majority of wind farms were installed no more than five kilometres from the coast, making them pretty easy to get to for service & maintenance. The last two decades has seen a steady increase in the distance from shore that new wind farms are located however, with new installations regularly happening between 30 to 40 km out.

In just 20 years, the average distance from shore has increased circa 700% and because of this, the transit time and cost of service vessels has become a major consideration in relation to the wind farm Operations & Maintenance (O&M) budget. It’s also why Nicola Offshore has chosen to provide specialist survey services with focus on using fast workboats as a platform for our world-class survey team and technology.


Our first survey vessel is Nautical Explorer, a lightweight, 12 metre fast craft capable of maintaining speeds up to 44 knots (82 Kph). Powered by two Yamaha 350 Four stroke V8 engines, Nautical Explorer can be on station and ready to survey 30 Km from shore in just 22 minutes. This would be a good weather day of course, but she is more than capable of dealing with the more extreme conditions found further offshore and holding on to a steady pace.

This makes Nautical Explorer the perfect platform for reducing the costs of short surveys located far from shore. These surveys are often on demand and additional to planned surveys. They are likely need quickly so that wind turbine installation or other marine activities can resume with the minimum of down time.


A fast vessel supports this, but in order to really make a difference we have to have fast logistics also. We need to get our boats to our clients quickly and by road or sea, we are committed to doing this on very strict timeframes.


One way that we achieve this is our choice of hydroacoustic technology. Based on a platform called the integrated Hydrographic Survey System (iHSS), we are able to pre-configure it for any job. We don’t have to wait for delivery as its already installed and survey ready, giving us a flying start when a client needs industry standard survey capabilities far from shore on a challenging schedule.

The pure speed of Nautical Explorer and future Nicola Offshore vessels in the pipeline, combined with our survey technology and commitment to speeding up planning and logistics can for instance, potentially cut a two-day job to a single day. Over the lifetime of an entire wind farm or indeed an Oil or Gas production facility, this soon adds up to some significant cost savings on the O&M budget.


Get in touch if you have the need for survey capabilities on an urgent or on-demand basis.