A few days ago, an odd-looking ship showed up in the ocean just off Indian River County. In the coming days, people in St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties will be able to see it too, as it moves south along the Florida east coast.
Almost as soon as it set anchor off Round Island Beach Park, the rumors started flying on Facebook groups about what it was. People incorrectly speculated the ship was:
A treasure hunting operation that had begun working.
A giant windmill that was being built.
An energy company drilling test wells to speculate for oil.
None of these theories are true. TCPalm discovered the real reason the ship is staked offshore.
Three things are inarguable about the strange vessel:
It doesn’t look like the kind of ship we frequently see around here.
Whatever it is, it’s definitely industrial by design.
People have concocted countless theories about what it is.
Sometimes, unexploded World War II ordnance is found on the beach — or worse, in people’s yards — in this same general area. They were left behind during the Navy SEAL training that took place on our shores prior to the historical D-Day invasion. When it happens, the military has to come in, evacuate people and detonate them, oftentimes, offshore. But it’s not about that either.
Perhaps the city of Vero Beach was involved with a project as yet to be announced, but “nothing from us,” is what City Manager Monte Falls told TCPalm.
Probably the most plausible guess is that the floating platform is part of Indian River County’s recently begun beach nourishment project. Maybe it is being used to pump sand back to Wabasso Beach — except it isn’t, according to county spokesperson Kathy Copeland.
Imaginations can run wild when the facts are hard to find. But TCPalm managed to track down the owner of the unique industrial maritime vessel. SeaCor Marine is a multinational commercial transportation company with its closest headquarters in Houston, Texas.
“The L/B Jill is in transit to Port Fourchon, Louisiana, from the New York area, where it was working on an offshore windfarm project. It is currently waiting for weather to improve before continuing its journey,” Senior Vice President Andrew Everett said in an email.
The L/B Jill — L/B is a maritime abbreviation for lift boat — is 180 feet long and 130 feet wide and is fitted with four anchor poles, each longer than a football field. That makes it capable of anchoring in very deep water. While in transit, the poles are drawn up to be level with the deck. While working, they push down to hold the ship in place above the water line.
That will come in handy this week since a low-pressure system settling over the Treasure Coast will generate winds to 25 knots and seas as high as “11 to 13 feet, occasionally to 18 feet,” according to the National Weather Service Marine Forecast.
The L/B Jill helped work on the installation of a windfarm off East Hampton in Long Island, according to an article in Recharge, an energy transition media company. South Fork, a Denmark energy company, and Eversource, a New England-owned utility, had partnered on the windfarm project.
Specialized vessels such as the L/B Jill typically are used in oil platform work in the Gulf of Mexico. SeaCor’s fleet of nine lift boats are able to work in 275 feet of water and can raise up to 300 feet. The L/B Jill was built in 2014 in Louisiana, according to MarineTraffic.com.
Ed Killer writes about the outdoors and environment for TCPalm. He can be emailed at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: L/B Jill liftboat off Florida coast after New York windmill project