Odysseus runs into trouble as he navigates between Scylla and Charybdis (right) in an Italian fresco by Alessandro Allori. (Public Domain)
Offshore wind energy is headed to the East Coast on the back of a monster famed for creating giant whirlpools to overturn ships.
Charybdis will be the name given to the offshore wind installation vessel Dominion Energy is building in Texas, which will be used to construct not only Virginia’s proposed 2.6 gigawatt wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach but also the Revolution and Sunrise Wind projects off the coast of New England and New York. The latter two projects are being developed by offshore wind companies Ørsted and Eversource.
Most well-known for the havoc she wreaked on Odysseus’s fleet in Homer’s Odyssey, Charybdis was originally a nymph who was transformed into a monster either for flooding too much land or stealing sheep. Another monster, Scylla, also attacked ships across the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Calabria on the Italian mainland.
Dominion spokesperson Rayhan Daudani said in an email that the name for the company’s new vessel had been chosen by ship designer Seajacks.
The United Kingdom-based Seajacks has shown a decided preference for the monstrous in its christening of five other jack-up vessels used to install offshore wind turbines. Charybdis will join not only Scylla but Kraken, Leviathan, Hydra and Zaratan, the latter referring to a giant sea turtle that also appears in the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.
Seajacks sales and marketing coordinator Robyn Youngs said in an email that company CEO Blair Ainslie “decided not to go down the traditional route of simply numbering the vessels Seajacks 1, 2, 3 etc as he thought mythical sea monsters were much more interesting! It was an idea to give the vessels more character.”
Dominion’s Charybdis will eventually be stationed in Hampton Roads and is expected to be the first Jones Act-compliant offshore wind vessel in the U.S.
Offshore wind turbine components must be transported by ship miles off the coast to be constructed in place, but the federal Jones Act requires that all vessels carrying goods between two points in the U.S. must be built and registered in the U.S. Because the American offshore wind industry is so young, however, no such vessels currently exist.
Dominion expects Charybdis to be complete by late 2023. In a news release, the company said its “regulated customers, including in Virginia, will not experience any bill impact associated with use of the vessel in support of the Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind projects.”
This story has been updated with comments from Seajacks.
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