Shipbuilding Employment

U.S. Shipbuilding Employment, 2019

One of the Largest Maritime Hubs on the United States East Coast

The Commonwealth is home to more than 25,000 shipbuilding and ship repair personnel. The largest concentration among all East Coast states combined. Access to this talent and supportive training institutions provide an optimal set of skills from maritime fabrication to offshore wind fabrication. In addition, Virginia’s maritime vessel operators — boasting a long record servicing the world’s largest naval base, the East Coast’s third-largest port, major infrastructure construction projects, and numerous private terminal operators — stand ready to service the offshore wind industry.

The Port of Virginia’s $1.5 billion modernization and expansion project will create the deepest, widest, and safest commercial shipping channels and harbor on the East Coast. And with no overhead obstructions, Virginia provides an ideal logistical advantage for OEMs and developer staging areas.

Lease Areas

BOEM Call and Lease Areas

Central Access to All Wind Farms on the U.S. East Coast

Virginia’s central location on the East Coast, along with its deep harbor channels and lack of overhead obstructions, provides quick, open-sea access to all the offshore wind areas. Vessels traveling at 10 knots can reach all offshore wind lease areas and call areas within 36 hours.

Manufacturers can also rely on Virginia’s optimal location inland, with access to tier 2 suppliers through a strong transportation infrastructure. Virginia is home to major east/west and north/south interstate highways and rail lines, as well as 16 commercial airports serving Virginia with direct flights to 100+ domestic and 50+ international destinations.

Growing the Offshore Wind Cluster

Companies with a new or expanded presence in Virginia supporting offshore wind include

Since the announcement and commissioning of the first two turbines in federal waters at the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Research Lease Area, the offshore wind industry has continued to grow in Virginia, especially following the announcement of the two largest single offshore wind farms in the U.S. planned for construction near Virginia’s coast:

  • Avangrid Renewable’s Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Farm (2,500 megawatts)
  • Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Farm (2,640 megawatts)

Dominion furthered its commitment in offshore wind with the announcement of a $500 million investment for the first Jones Act compliant wind installation vessel, which will be homeported in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region.

The Hampton Roads Alliance also opened Virginia’s Offshore Wind Landing — a collaborative workspace for member companies in the offshore wind industry to work, connect, and access resources.

Offshore Wind Research & Testing

Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) was awarded the country’s first and only offshore wind lease research area in 2013. In September 2020, DMME, in partnership with Dominion Energy, established the first two turbines in federal waters to deliver power to the grid. The two turbines serve as a testing ground for environmental study and turbine installation techniques. The research lease area is now a prime opportunity for manufacturers, vessel operators, universities, and training organizations to take advantage of research, development, and safety testing. Additional research assets around the state include:

James Madison University (JMU)

The Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy provides students accreditation around the renewable energy industry. JMU has won twice since 2017 in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Collegiate Wind Competition.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science is one of the largest marine research and education centers in the United States. VIMS has been at the forefront of Virginia’s offshore wind industry providing research services since the early inception of Cape May Wind in 2009.

University of Virginia (UVA)

UVA’s School of Engineering & Applied Science was established in 1836 and is the fourth-oldest engineering school in the country. Today, the school partners with the world’s top turbine companies and work on revolutionary designs of 50-megawatt turbines and blades roughly 200 meters long.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Department is regularly ranked as one of the nation’s top aerospace and maritime engineering schools. The department also works with the world’s top turbine companies, utilizing one of the largest university-operated wind tunnels in the United States with maximum speeds of 80 m/s (190 mph).

The Port of Virginia

The Port of Virginia is on track to create the deepest, widest, and safest commercial shipping channels and harbor on the East Coast by 2024. With no overhead obstructions, Virginia provides an ideal logistical advantage for OEMs and developer staging areas.

Training the Future Offshore Wind Workforce

Virginia’s robust talent network has transferable skills as well as access to numerous training institutions already developing a pipeline of offshore wind personnel. Virginia is home to the largest concentration of shipbuilders and ship repairers on the East Coast with skills that easily transfer to offshore wind fabrication. Virginia also has the second-highest concentration of technology workers in the country — a talent pool critical to support the engineering and design of future wind turbines. Each year, thousands of military veterans exit Virginia’s large concentration of military installations into the workforce — second in the country behind California. Numerous universities and technical training institutions have established programs to support the nascent offshore wind industry.

Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance

New College Institute has partnered with the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy and Centura College to form the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance. The Mid-Atlantic Wind Alliance is the Commonwealth’s first training alliance dedicated to offering a full suite of wind-related training, including courses certified by the Global Wind Organisation.  Training locations are located in in Martinsville and the Hampton Roads region.

Old Dominion University

ODU has a longstanding partnership with Huntington Ingalls Industries and the Newport News Shipbuilding apprenticeship program. This partnership highlights ODU’s ability to create customized workforce training for a company. The university also offers a Marine Engineering minor consisting of four courses in topics that are relevant to the shipbuilding, maintenance, and maritime operations industries.

America's Top State For Business

Named America’s Top State for Business by CNBC and the No. 2 state for governance by U.S. News & World Report, Virginia is widely recognized for its favorable regulatory climate and consistently rated one of the best-run states in the country. It also has one of the oldest right-to-work laws and the fourth-lowest private-sector unionization rate in the country at 2.5%. Virginia offers a stable tax environment as well as competitive wages, construction costs, and industrial lease rates.

Business Facilities_#1_Business Climate
Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Pilot Project

Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Pilot Project

Dependable Business Climate Committed to Renewable Energy

  • State leadership committing to an aggressive renewable energy mandate
  • 100% carbon free by 2045 with a mandate of 5,200 megawatts of offshore wind by 2034
  • Mid-Atlantic MOU: Governors from Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina have entered into a partnership that will enhance regional collaboration among the states in the collective pursuit of the offshore wind industry. That partnership will include a new leadership team made up of representatives from each of the three states to coordinate efforts, according to the agreement. Each state promises to work more closely with one another to rapidly develop offshore wind energy projects off the coast of each state, according to the agreement.
  • Virginia offers an exemption from retail sales and use tax for equipment and materials purchased by manufacturers.
  • Manufacturers of products used to generate alternative electricity may also qualify for Virginia’s “Green Job Creation Tax Credit”.
  • Sound economic policy and prudent financial management has earned Virginia a AAA credit rating since 1938 — longer than any other state.
  • Industrial users paid an average rate of 6.42 cents per kilowatt-hour in the winter of 2020, well below the national average of 6.61 cents per kilowatt-hour and the second-lowest compared to all eight Northeast coastal states.