MAINBRACE: Special Offshore Wind Edition

A Note from the Editor

Thomas H. Belknap, Jr.

It is a safe bet that few people reading this note have been entirely unimpacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It is truly an event of worldwide scale that has, virtually overnight, fundamentally changed the way we work and live. The virus’ global effects will be felt long after a vaccine or cure is found, and in ways we can hardly imagine. One interesting anecdote has to do with energy consumption. As the United States rapidly shut down its economy in April to try to stem the spread of the virus, our national energy consumption dropped dramatically. Because of its relative cost, coal power plants were the first to be idled, with the result that by mid-May, America’s renewable energy sources—primarily wind, solar, and hydroelectric—had produced more electricity than by coal on 90 separate days in 2020. By comparison, in 2019, that occurred on only 38 days over the entire year. This trend will only continue as the incremental cost of solar and wind generation drops further in the coming years.

Meanwhile, the United States is on the cusp of an explosion of offshore wind projects that have been more than a decade in the making—particularly on the east coast, where the first offshore wind farm began operation in 2016 and many more are in various advanced stages of development. Blank Rome has been busy for several years now in advising clients—both domestic and international—on all aspects of these developing projects, from regulatory issues such as Jones Act and work-visa requirements, to environmental and permitting issues, chartering, contracting, corporate assistance, and beyond.

With all of this in mind, we decided to focus this special issue of Mainbrace primarily on the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry, providing critical analysis into U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Jones Act developments; a detailed overview of state and federal legislation and project development updates; comparative analysis of SUPPLYTIME and WINDTIME charterparty contracts; and insights into the potential post-COVID-19 implications on the offshore wind market. And while not offshore wind-related, we also provide a discussion on the dramatic Hanjin bankruptcy and the role to be played by the Federal Maritime Commission and Department of Commerce in case of future such bankruptcies.

We hope that you enjoy this Special Offshore Wind edition of Mainbrace and that you stay safe and healthy.

Thomas H. Belknap, Jr., Editor


The Emerging U.S. Offshore Wind Industry in a Post-COVID-19 World
By Thomas H. Belknap, Jr., and Lauren B. Wilgus

Just when it was looking like the offshore wind industry was finally about to take off in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced one more significant layer of uncertainty upon an already very complicated playing field. There are currently 15 active offshore wind projects in the planning stages that, if completed, could add approximately 25 gigawatts of electricity to the power grid. Read More »

Offshore Wind: Driving Factors and Recent Impediments
By Joan M. Bondareff and Dana S. Merkel

This article contains a brief review of the latest developments in offshore wind, including state laws and policies, federal laws and permitting practices, and the impact of COVID-19. The main issue we are now watching is the Department of the Interior’s supplemental environmental review of the proposed Vineyard Wind project. Read More »

Implications of Jones Act Changes to the Offshore Energy Industry
By Jonathan K. Waldron and Stefanos N. Roulakis

Vessels are the backbone of any offshore construction project, and the Jones Act, which celebrated its centennial this month, regulates their operations in U.S. waters on the Outer Continental Shelf. Originally promulgated as a transportation statute, the Jones Act has governed vessels engaging in offshore construction for nearly four decades. Read More »

Offshore Wind Will Need Support Vessels – What Form Are You Going to Use?
By Keith B. Letourneau and Douglas J. Shoemaker

As the United States develops offshore wind capacity, the need for vessels to support the industry for installation and maintenance will rapidly expand. While it may seem perfectly logical for the industry to adopt the BIMCO WINDTIME form, the SUPPLYTIME 2005 form is more common and generally known to the U.S. service and supply-vessel industry. Read More »

Protecting the Supply Chain: U.S. Government Studies the Role of Federal Agencies in Ocean Carrier Bankruptcies
By Rick Antonoff and Evan Jason Zucker

In December 2018, the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act (the “LoBiondo Act”) was enacted to, among other things, improve and support the operation and administration of the Coast Guard and update maritime and environmental policy. Section 713 of the LoBiondo Act directs the Comptroller General of the United States to “conduct a study that examines the immediate aftermath of a major ocean carrier bankruptcy and its impact through the supply chain.” Read More »


Chambers USA 2020 Recognizes Blank Rome Attorneys and Practices

Blank Rome’s Maritime practice and attorneys have again been highly ranked by Chambers USA, notably receiving national #1 rankings in the areas of Shipping – Litigation and Shipping – Regulatory. The 2020 edition of Chambers USA recognized Blank Rome in a number of categories across a wide range of practices, and also ranked 69 Blank Rome attorneys as “leaders in their fields.” Read More »

Blank Rome Attorneys and Practices Highly Ranked in The Legal 500 United States 2020

Blank Rome’s Maritime practice and attorneys were again highly ranked and recommended in The Legal 500 United States 2020, notably recognizing Blank Rome as a “Top-Tier Firm” for Shipping – Finance, and Shipping – Litigation and Regulation. Read More »

Safe Passage Blog

We invite our readers to dive into our archive of Mainbrace newsletters and maritime development advisories, as well as keep abeam with all of our current and upcoming analyses on trending maritime topics and legislation, in our Safe Passage blog. Read More »

Blank Rome’s Maritime Industry Team

Our maritime industry team is composed of practice-focused subcommittees from across many of our Firm’s offices, with attorneys who have extensive capabilities and experience in the maritime industry and beyond, effectively complementing Blank Rome Maritime’s client cases and transactions. Read More »

Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus is impacting businesses and public life around the world. From supply chain disruption, government-ordered closures, and event cancellations to employee safety concerns and social distancing recommendations, every company is facing its own unique challenges in the face of the uncertainties surrounding this global pandemic. Blank Rome’s Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force is monitoring this ever-changing situation and is here to help.

A Message from Blank Rome’s Leadership

We hope it never becomes normal to share a message denouncing acts of discrimination, harassment, or violence against our communities of color. During these upsetting and anguished times, we reaffirm Blank Rome’s dedication to our core value and founding principle—an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Read More »

© 2020 Blank Rome LLP. All rights reserved. Please contact Blank Rome for permission to reprint. Notice: The purpose of this update is to identify select developments that may be of interest to readers. The information contained herein is abridged and summarized from various sources, the accuracy and completeness of which cannot be assured. This update should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel.