I walked across the Pierhead on a dark grey Sunday morning through the fine misty rain to where the Vidar jack-up vessel is currently berthed at Princes Dock where the big cruise liners normally berth when they visit Liverpool. The vessel sailed into the River Mersey on 21 January and is scheduled to be in the Port of Liverpool for the next ten days or so.
The Vidar is a self levelling wind turbine installation unit built in Poland in 2012 originally for a German company. However since September 2015 it has been owned by the Luxembourg-based Jan de Nul Group which provides services for maritime infrastructure. It assists with construction and maintenance projects out at sea all over the world. It is in Liverpool to be fitted out with specialist equipment for its next job involving the installation and repair of underwater cables in the Irish Sea.
The Vidar jack-up vessel was specifically built to install offshore windparks and is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The large cargo deck space and payload and the lifting capacity of its Liebherr Crane of up to 1200 tonnes enables the swift and safe installation of the heaviest foundations and other components used in the construction of offshore windparks.
The vessel is 140 m long (equivalent to one and a half football pitches) and is equipped with four legs to lift itself above the sea level for stable working without impact of the waves. The vessel can install all kinds of foundations, as well as the latest generation of wind turbines, in water depths up to 50 m.
Although specifically built for the offshore wind industry, the Vidar is also suitable to install other offshore facilities such as tidal current turbines, wave energy generators, meteorological masts and oil and gas infrastructure.
It certainly dwarfs the buildings along the quayside.