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Building a tower in the sea: First shipment of towers for offshore wind turbines arrives in New Bedford

Vineyard Wind will start installing John Hancock Tower-sized turbines this summer

UHL Felicity traveled through the New Bedford hurricane barrier carrying the first shipment of wind turbine parts for the state's offshore wind farm by Vineyard Wind.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

The UHL Felicity arrived this week in New Bedford, carrying tower sections made in Portugal for use in the Vineyard Wind project that is going up south of Martha’s Vineyard starting this summer.

This represents the first shipment of offshore wind turbine components in Massachusetts, for the state’s first offshore wind project. Vineyard Wind, a joint venture of Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, is expected to start generating electricity by the end of the year. When complete, potentially some time in 2024, the offshore wind farm will generate up to 800 megawatts, or enough power for more than 400,000 homes.

The ship UHL Felicity starting to dock in New Bedford with the first shipment of wind turbine parts for Massachusetts' first offshore wind farm. The large crane on the left is the second biggest of its kind in the US was constructed to off load the large equiptment needed to build the wind farm. The smallest crane was erected to build the middle sized crane which was needed to build the large crane. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

About 100 people will be working in New Bedford this summer, assembling the wind turbines, which will then be barged out to the wind farm site.


Vineyard Wind will consist of 62 turbines — each as roughly tall as the John Hancock Tower, with blades the length of a football field — made by General Electric, known as the Haliade-X. Construction has already begun on two transmission cables that will link Vineyard Wind with the mainland grid; the power will come ashore in the town of Barnstable. The nearly $3 billion Vineyard Wind project is being financed through contracts with the state’s three main electric utilities.

An aerial view of the UHL Felicity, carrying massive parts for offshore wind turbines, as it arrives at dock in New Bedford on Wednesday.Rodrique Ngowi/Associated Press

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him @jonchesto.