Many wind farm service vessel (WFSV) operators are failing to comply with UK legislation and guidelines on working hours, vessel manning and watchkeeping, TÜV SÜD PMSS has warned.

Many wind farm service vessel (WFSV) operators are failing to comply with UK legislation and guidelines on working hours, vessel manning and watchkeeping, TÜV SÜD PMSS has warned.

The global renewable energy consulting firm has expressed concern over the rising number of incidents on wind farm crew transfer vessels and has called for more stringent enforcement of UK merchant shipping legislation and guidelines.

According to TÜV SÜD PMSS, the demands placed on vessels and crews in the offshore wind sector are increasing as wind farm developments move further out to sea. WFSVs are also becoming larger and more technically advanced, leading to fatigue and errors when undermanned.

In addition, the complexity of navigation, monitoring and communications equipment, as well as the ergonomics of the bridge layout, are threatening to undermine the safety of workboat crews and the windfarm technicians they carry.

Most WFSVs are manned by just 2-3 crew working 12-14 hour shifts, raising issues over compliance with merchant shipping regulations, says TÜV SÜD PMSS.

Andrew Wilde, TÜV SÜD PMSS Marine Safety Consultant, stated that, "Although the increasing technical demands of servicing offshore wind developments are well-documented and reflected in the design of the most advanced WFSVs, the demands such vessels place on crew has not typically been considered to the same degree at this time."

"A vessel is only as good as the crew operating it," he added. "Any factor that limits the performance of the crew will inevitably affect the performance of the vessel and threaten the safety of personnel on board. We simply cannot ignore the potential for under-manning leading to fatigue to cause a major incident in the near future."