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Monday, July 15, 2024

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Cape May’s Capt. Bob to Aid Wind Study

 

By Jack Fichter

CAPE MAY — The fishing vessel Capt. Bob, based here, has been outfitted with scientific equipment to study an offshore location 12 miles southeast of Atlantic City in preparation for installing one of the first offshore wind farms in the U.S. off Atlantic City.
Paul Gallagher, General Counsel of Fishermen’s Energy, said it marked the first real physical steps in the project. He said the group was proud to say they were employing state residents to perform its first seismic survey using Alpine Survey Ocean Survey of Norwood, and employing as the ocean going platform, a commercial fishing vessel temporarily re-rigged for the purpose of deploying the scientific equipment.
Fishermen’s Energy has rigged the Capt. Bob, one of the scallop harvesting vessels managed by Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc., to bring the geophysical data collection equipment and personnel out to sea each day of the study, as well as to traverse the study area. Principals of Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc. are also fishermen investors in Fishermen’s Energy.
A full time scallop vessel such as the Capt. Bob is limited in the amount of days it is permitted to harvest scallops from the ocean in any given year.
The National Marine Fisheries Service manages the fishery ensuring sustainability of the resource. The time constraint leaves extra time for vessels to engage in other activities allowing Fishermen’s Energy to redeploy existing vessels as well as train existing captains and crews.
“We are pleased to be able to support Fishermen’s Energy’s offshore wind project. This is an opportunity for personal growth and to be on the ground floor of a new industry. Our goal is to foster that industry while minimizing the impacts on our opportunity to commercially fish. Clams, scallops, and fish are all important and the goal is to be able to continue to fish, while we make a new offshore renewable industry” said Tony Driscoll, captain of he Capt. Bob, who has been with Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc., which manages the Capt Bob, for more than 10 years and has been in the fishing industry for just over 35 years.
The 84-foot Capt. Bob was built in Coden, Ala. in 1978. The vessel will have equipment on board which has the capability of viewing the ocean floor with its contours and shapes as well as potential obstructions that may be present.
For the seismic survey, the Capt Bob will work out of docks in Atlantic City.
The process of building offshore wind farms is new to the U.S. and none have been built in the U.S., while over 25 are operating in Europe.
One of the first steps in evaluating an offshore site for wind turbine suitability is to gain a thorough understanding of the environmental conditions. The long-term measurement of wind speed and direction at various heights is critical for determining the amount and quality of available wind energy.
Ocean wave and current information, studies of the seafloor and marine mammal activity are all needed so that Fishermen’s Energy can responsibly design and build these new “green energy” facilities.
Years before any turbines are delivered, an offshore meteorological tower (or met tower) is installed and instrumented with a wide array of sensors to provide engineers and scientists with the data needed for determining if the location is attractive for clean energy production, while considering impacts on the sensitive marine environment.
Fishermen’s Energy met tower, 12 miles offshore, will be about 300 feet tall to allow data collection at the “hub height” of future turbines.
The tower will serve as a platform for scientific studies of the atmosphere, the oceanography and biological conditions not only for wind farm planning, but also for university and ocean science programs. Powered by solar panels and small wind turbines, the data collection systems continuously measure and transmit information to shore for analysis.
Data will be shared among engineers, marine biologists, avian specialists and others interested in the characteristics of the site. Fishermen’s Energy will also make much of this information available to the public through a website so mariners, surfers and others who rely on coastal weather reports can plan activities based on real-time environmental information.

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