Rix puts its money where its mouth is
AN HISTORIC Hull company that has its sights set on the renewables market has put its money where its mouth is with the launch of its latest vessel.
Rix Sea Shuttle, part of JR Rix & Sons Ltd, has launched The Rix Panther – the first of five boats commissioned by the company to transport maintenance engineers to and from offshore wind turbines in the North Sea.
Tim Rix, managing director of JR Rix and Sons, said: "Lots of people are talking about what is going to happen in the renewables industry in the area and lots of businesses want to get involved.
"Here is an example where Rix is putting its money where its mouth is, and this represents a new venture."
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The foray into the offshore market marks a £7.5m investment by Rix over the next two years, and will see technicians travelling in absolute comfort, watching Sky TV on flat-screen televisions.
While the first vessel has been constructed in Blyth, Northumberland, Hull company Dunston has already started work on the final three.
Guests from both banks of the Humber headed to Grimsby Fish Dock to see the Panther take to the waves.
Tim Rix, who is the fifth generation in the family firm, said it had taken the Rix family "five generations to go from wind back to wind again".
"We are diversifying our existing ship owning heritage into the renewables sector," he said.
"My great-great-grandfather founded the company and went to sea as a boy and worked the masts of sailing ships before the steamers.
"Our first vessel, in 1884, was a steam coaster with sails, no doubt because the steam engine wasn't that reliable. To give some idea of size, it carried what a lorry would now – we could fit that load on the front deck of the Rix Panther."
Each of the aluminium vessels will be crewed and operated by Rix, can carry up to 12 technicians and are capable of reaching speeds of up to 25 knots.
The remainder of the boats are due to be delivered in 2013 and 2014.
There are currently about 150 vessels in use that are suitable for servicing offshore wind farms.
However, industry expects predict up to 700 will be needed as the industry continues to grow.
As well as targeting the round three wind farms that are positioned just 12 hours' sailing time from the East Coast, Rix Sea Shuttle is also seeking opportunities further afield, encompassing most of the upcoming offshore wind farms around the UK coastline.