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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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Sea trials for innovative boat that could lead to more jobs

More jobs could be on the cards following the launch of an innovative vessel used to carry crews servicing off-shore windfarms.

Windfarms boat photo
The boat in Whitehaven harbour

For the past few weeks, people have been questioning the purpose of a unique-looking vessel anchored in Whitehaven harbour, and all can finally be revealed.

The boat, designed to cope with the most challenging conditions, will be used specifically but not exclusively, in the offshore wind industry.

It can carry 12 people plus crew in a significantly more fuel efficient, greener, and faster way in deteriorating sea conditions.

Workington-based companies Coastal Charters and commercial maintenance business SB Engineering have developed the demonstrator vessel – currently in Whitehaven – which is about to undergo sea trials.

Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC) has provided a £90,000 Investing in Business grant, as well as £310,000 in loans, to develop the 21st Century Wave Access vessel project.

The project will create nine new jobs and the figure is set to rise “dramatically” if it proves a commercial success and production gets underway in west Cumbria.

Stephen Beadsmoore, director at Coastal Charters, said: “Whilst it has not been easy, it is rewarding that through a strong belief in the project and persistent determination that sufficient funds were raised to construct the demonstrator vessel.

“BEC identified with our vision and we are delighted with the financial support that we have received from them; without it this project could not have happened.

“This vessel is the start of a five phase plan that will hopefully see a manufacturing company set up here in west Cumbria providing high value, long term and sustainable employment.”

The Investing in Business scheme is administered by BEC and funded by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

BEC is also helping with sales and marketing.

Nigel Catterson, interim chairman of BEC, said: “The 21st Century Wave Access project is a fantastic example of west Cumbrian innovation being used to tackle major challenges being faced by the growing UK and global off-shore industry.

“BEC support through the ‘Investing in Business’ programme and the significant loans that we have made in partnership with our nuclear funders, show that we are willing to back this type of cutting-edge activity which one day may become the global market leader in its field.

“That really is an exciting prospect.”

The project has also received funding from The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency whose goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.

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