An oilfield workhorse with pleasing lines

By Brian Gauvin

The 210-by-54-foot St. Louis is the eighth of 10 diesel-electric platform support vessels (PSVs) forming the fleet that launched Rigdon Marine Corp. of Houston into the oilfield service business. Guido Perla & Associates (GPA) of Seattle designed the vessels that were built at Bender Shipbuilding, Mobile, Ala.

The Guido Perla 640 Class is ABS Classed DP-2, diesel-electric vessels. Equipped with Steerprop SP-18T 360° azimuth drives, these vessels are powered by two Cummins QSK60 engines developing 2,548 brake hp or 1,901 kw at 1,800 rpm and producing 1,825 kw at 60 hz and by a Cummins KTA 38 generating 1,220 hp (910 kw). The vessels run at 13 knots loaded, 15 knots light.

“The fuel economy is very significant,” said Shane Landry, master aboard St. Louis. The dovetailing of DP-2, diesel electric and z-drives produces a steady and quick response system for staying on station. “She is so much more efficient than conventional boats, and there is less vibration.”

“The GPA 640 diesel-electric propulsion system provides greater redundancy, more fuel efficiency, less engine wear and tear through load sharing, and longer time in the field than traditional direct-drive systems,” said Billy Guice, vice president of marketing with Rigdon Marine. “The elimination of large shafts, gears and other drive components allows for more flexibility in tank arrangements, creating a vessel with larger below-deck capacities than similarly sized vessels.”

Those capacities in the Rigdon fleet include 7,135 cubic feet of bulk storage and 5,150 barrels of liquid mud in self-cleaning oval tanks. Two 80-psi pumps deliver 50 metric tons of dry cement or barite per hour to a height of 196 feet.

The propulsion of the Rigdon vessels breaks with oilfield tradition and so, too, do the pleasing lines. Guice explained that the hull lines are modeled after the fishing vessels employed in the Pacific Northwest, hulls designed for a maximum cargo at the highest speed possible.

“The GPA 640 hulls are approximately 30 percent more efficient than traditional workboat hulls,” said Guice.

The success of the 640s has led the company to contract for ten 190-foot diesel-electric vessels of the GPA 654 Class. They are to be constructed at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La.

By Professional Mariner Staff