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North Star casts recruitment net to attract offshore wind vessel talent

Published:  04 January, 2023

North Star, a leading UK infrastructure vessel support operator, has announced it has launched a recruitment drive for experienced crew ahead of its first hybrid-powered offshore wind fleet arriving in UK waters early this year.

The company, which has facilities in Aberdeen, Lowestoft and Newcastle, is aiming to hire 42 qualified seafarers in the next couple of months, the beginning of a commitment to recruit over 170 seafarers across the next 18 months to support the first of the company’s four new service operations vessels (SOVs), all destined for the world-leading Dogger Bank Wind Farm development off the East Yorkshire coast, a joint venture between SSE Renewables, Equinor, and Vårgrønn.

SOVs are used in-field as living quarters for offshore wind turbine operation and maintenance technicians, allowing them to be safely transferred to and from work whilst providing a centralised hub for logistics. North Star is looking to hire personnel into roles including ship’s master, chief officer, second officer, gangway and crane operators, as well as electrical engineers.

This initial workforce boost is part of North Star’s plan to hire 170 personnel in the next 18 months to safely operate on its first four SOVs as well as the fleet’s associated daughter craft, which are the renewables sector’s first to utilise hybrid propulsion. It currently employs 1,300 personnel. Its in-house crewing department currently ensures its 41 emergency response and rescue vessels continue to provide uninterrupted, around the clock, 365-days-a-year support to 50 offshore oil and gas installations in the North Sea.

Steve Myers, North Star’s SOV operations director, said: “Over the past 135 years, the business has expanded from fishing into oil and gas, and now into offshore wind. Our four state-of-the-art SOVs are on 10-year minimum charters to the Dogger Bank Wind Farm, which presents a host of exciting seafaring career opportunities with long-term prospects.

“As our unique vessel design utilises the most cutting-edge solutions including AI and machine learning technologies, walk-to-work gangways, and dynamic positioning, we have developed a programme of transition training to help upskill our current crew with their offshore wind career ambitions. The additional new hires will work across both the SOVs as well as backfill openings within our existing fleet, ensuring we maintain our inclusive company culture and leverage a collective expertise to deliver safe and efficient operations in-field.”

North Star has also recently employed Joanna Lang as its first in-house legal counsel. Based in Aberdeen, Joanna has 20 years’ experience in global legal, contract and commercial roles, including a decade of experience supporting energy companies including Subsea 7, ROVOP and ROVCO.

This recent recruitment drive is underpinned by North Star’s ongoing cadet programme. As the country’s largest employer of offshore cadets, it invests £1 million annually in their development.

CEO Matthrew Gordon added: ”Investment in the new generation is at the heart of what we do and, with scalability being one of our core missions, this recruitment drive supports the next phase of our ambitious offshore wind growth plan to achieve a fleet of 40 new SOVs by 2040.

“Earlier this month (December), we secured a £140million financing package as we aim to seize additional contracts in the UK and new opportunities in Europe. This investment has opened the door wider for more sustainable careers for both cadets and the more experienced seafarers we retain and attract as the industry transitions.

“We are not just hiring people to carry out a job, we aim to create a strong pipeline of skilled talent as we encourage and support our people to develop their careers.”

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