ACO's supply vessels thrive 'on the shelf'

The 220-foot Monica W. Callais towered above the Louisiana wetlands as the offshore supply vessel (OSV) slowly meandered up Bayou Lafourche from the Gulf of Mexico, destined for the Chevron dock near Leeville.

The offshore supply vessel Monica W. Callais meanders along Louisiana's Bayou Lafourche near a Chevron dock. The 220-foot vessel spends most of its time on rig decommissioning jobs. (Brian Gauvin photo)

Abdon Callais Offshore (ACO) took delivery of Monica in June 2010 from Master Boat Builders of Bayou La Batre, Ala. The boatyard has built all 56 OSVs in the ACO fleet, and it is building four more. That's a remarkable enterprise during a slack time for Gulf oil and gas operations, especially the deepwater sector following the Deepwater Horizon spill of April 2010. But then, ACO is a company that likes being on the shelf, the continental shelf, that is, where the company makes most of its living on shallow water projects.

"We like working on the shelf," said ACO's marketing director, Craig Shellenberger. "We leave the deepwater work to the other guys."

At this time Monica W. Callais is working on a rig decommissioning job for a major oil company. Decommissioning is a growth industry in the Gulf since the federal government mandated oil companies to plug or disassemble thousands of non-producing platforms and pipelines — called "idle iron."

ACO President and Chief Executive Bill Foret predicts a busy future in the decommissioning program for the company's larger OSVs such as Monica W. Callais because of the "… deck dimensions and capabilities to house, feed and support crews working on these projects."

An Abdon Callais Offshore crew musters aboard Monica W. Callais. The boat is equipped with 30 berths for work crews. (Brian Gauvin photo)

The 6,000 square feet of deck area on Monica W. Callais is capable of supporting 1,200 long tons of cargo. There are 30 berths aboard for work crews and each of the two Caterpillar C32 generators produces 450 kW for ship and hospital electricity.

"We have plenty of generator power," said Chief Engineer Mike Smith.

"This boat has good power (and) good capacities for deck and tank cargo, and she's very maneuverable, with very nice accommodations," said Capt. Wayne Buckheit.

What used to be called extras are installed as standard items for the crew's comfort and safety, such as WiFi, flat-screen televisions and soft-mounted engines to reduce vibration and noise. "If you didn't know the engines were running, you wouldn't know that they were running," said Smith.

Capt. Wayne Buckheit at the controls in the wheelhouse. (Brian Gauvin photo)

But most notably, the company has installed automated external defibrillator (AED) kits as standard equipment throughout its fleet, one of the first companies to do so. "It's an expensive thing to do, but it will save lives," said Greg Revels, the company's field captain.

"It is our desire to provide and train our crews to use AEDs and any other safety- or medical-related equipment which assists them in performing their jobs while monitoring their health," said Foret.

By Professional Mariner Staff