Senior executives from American offshore wind developers Orsted and Eversource recently gathered by the bow of the Eco Edison with the Edison Chouest Offshore building crew.
Senior executives from American offshore wind developers Orsted and Eversource recently gathered by the bow of the Eco Edison with the Edison Chouest Offshore building crew.
Senior executives from American offshore wind developers Orsted and Eversource recently gathered by the bow of the Eco Edison with the Edison Chouest Offshore building crew.

Order books are starting to fill at a slow, but better-than-expected pace for shipbuilders across the country. 

Leading the growth incline is the $1 billion order placed by Matson Navigation with Philly Shipyard for the construction of a trio of 3,600 TEU Aloha Class containerships. 

Measuring 854 feet in length, the three new Aloha Class vessels will match the length of the two existing Aloha Class ships, currently the largest Jones Act containerships ever constructed. The vessels will operate on either conventional marine fuels or liquefied natural gas and will incorporate other green ship technologies. 

The order is a major boost for the shipyard now has its own order book filled through 2027. The first of the Matson boxships is slated for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2026 with subsequent deliveries over the course of the following year. 

“Winning this order creates a historic backlog for Philly Shipyard, as well as great visibility through 2027 for its shareholders and other stakeholders,” Philly Shipyard chair Kristian Rokke told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Long term, it also supports the yard’s vision to deliver quality vessels, while pivoting between commercial and government contracts.”

The contract award further bolsters Philly Shipyard’s current order backlog, consisting of five national security multi-mission vessels for Tote Services and one subsea rock installation vessel for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. With the latest shipbuilding contract from Matson, Philly Shipyard’s orderbook is now the largest in its 25-year history at more than $2 billion. 

The shipyard, forced to lay off much of its workforce several years ago, also has also inked a contract with Gibbs & Cox to conduct a six-month T-AH (X) hospital ship feasibility study for the U.S. Navy, which is considering the possible replacement of two older hospital ships. 

Smaller yards around the country are seeing a modest, but steady pace in orders for pilot boats, ferries, crew transfer, offshore supply, survey boats, dredges, and other service vessels, while growth in the offshore wind industry continues to energize interest in and orders for wind installation and service craft.  

Some examples… 

• The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District, has inked a $257 million firm-fixed-price contract the Eastern Shipbuilding Group for the design-build of a new medium-class hopper dredger. Work will be performed at the company’s Panama City shipyard with an estimated completion in Q3 of 2027. In January, the shipbuilder began construction of a 302-foot passenger/vehicle ferry for the Connecticut-based Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co. 

An artist’s rendering of the wind turbine installation vessel Charybdis.
An artist’s rendering of the wind turbine installation vessel Charybdis.

• Brownsville, Tx.- based Seatrium AmFELS is finalizing the construction of Charybdis, a Jones Act-compliant wind turbine installation vessel, for Dominion Energy. The first vessel of its kind built in the U.S., the vessel is designed to transport and install foundations and turbines of offshore wind facilities in water depths up to 213 feet. It can also be used for operations and management work at operational wind farms. The 472-foot ship has a beam of 184 feet giving it a total deck area of 58,000 square feet and a ranking as one of the biggest vessels of its kind in the world. Charybdis will have accommodations for up to 119 crew and will be equipped with a specially designed, electrically-driven Huisman crane with a 426-foot boom capable of lifting 2,200 tons. 

• Hubert, N.C. shipbuilder US Watercraft has been selected by New Hanover County to build a custom 30-foot aluminum fire/rescue vessel. Now under construction, the vessel will be delivered by the end of this year. In addition to fire-fighting capacity, the aluminum catamaran will feature a hydraulic bow door for deploying a rescue ATV. The vessel can land on the beach to offload the vehicle in areas not easily accessible by road. At 30 feet in length with a 12-foot beam, the vessel will have a forward-leaning walk-around cabin and be equipped with twin 300 hp outboards, a fire pump, and hydraulic drop-down bow door. Located in southeastern North Carolina, New Hanover County has 31 miles of shoreline on the mainland and barrier islands, with communities facing both the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean.

• Patriot Offshore Maritime Services has contracted with Gladding-Hearn for the Somerset, Ma. shipyard to build an aluminum crew transfer vessel based on a catamaran design developed by Incat Crowther. The Association of Maryland Pilots has also ordered a pilot boat from Gladding-Hearn with delivery scheduled for late 2024.

• Bellingham, Wa.-based All American Marine has been contracted to build a research vessel for the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the University of Hawaii Foundation on behalf of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. The vessel is a 68-foot semi-displacement aluminum catamaran hull, bow wave piercer, and a patented hydrofoil-assisted hull design developed by Teknicraft Design of Auckland, New Zealand. The vessel will have the same characteristics as the recently commissioned research vessels Blue Manta and Shearwater, built for BlueTide Puerto Rico and Duke University, respectively. The vessel’s propulsion package includes a pair of fixed pitch propellers, powered by twin Scania DI16, 082M, Tier 3 engines. 

• Chesapeake Shipbuilding of Maryland, U.S., is building American Cruise Line’s fourth Coastal Cat vessel. The 100-passenger American Legend will be one of 12 new craft in ACL’s Project Blue series, specifically designed for domestic cruises in North American waters. The American Legend – the 19th ship in the expanding American Cruise Lines’ fleet – is the first three of the Coastal Cat vessels and is expected to begin cruising in late 2024. 

• MetalCraft Marine Inc. has been awarded a $31 million contract from the U.S. Coast Guard as part of its Long-Range Interceptor (LRI) III program. The contract is the second MCM has received for the design and build of its 35-foot, high-speed Interceptor patrol boats. Each vessel will feature twin Cummins 6.7L diesels powering a pair of Kongsberg A29 waterjets to a 40-knot speed, Raymarine and FLIR advanced navigation system, a semi-enclosed cabin, and Shockwave and Shox shock-mitigating suspension seating. The LRI IIIs will replace the current fleet of LRI IIs as those boats approach the end of their service life.

• Houma, La.-based-Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors, LLC. is well underway with the construction of the oceanographic research ships, Oceanographer and Discoverer, for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The two vessels are scheduled for respective deliveries in 2025 and 2026. NOAA, which currently operates a fleet of 15 active research and survey ships, has also selected Thoma-Sea Marine for a $625 million contract to design and construct two additional research vessels, with an option for two more. The first two ships of that order will be built at the Houma shipyard with an expected delivery date of 2027 and 2028.

• The U.S. Navy has awarded Bollinger Shipyards a design and construction contract for the sixth Auxiliary Personnel Lighter-Small 67 Class berthing and messing barge. Construction was scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2023. The company has also begun construction on the USNS Muscogee Creek Nation, the 10th Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship and the fifth T-ATS being constructed by Bollinger since 2021.

A 35-foot Coast Guard Long Range Interceptor II craft underway at speed.
A 35-foot Coast Guard Long Range Interceptor II craft underway at speed.

• Louisiana-based Edison Chouest Offshore is assembling the 260-foot-long Eco Edison for the Danish offshore wind developer Ørsted, and Eversource, a New England energy provider. Components of the vessel were fabricated at ECO facilities in Florida and Mississippi and shipped to ECO’s Houma, La. shipyard. The unique vessel is designed to offer floating housing for as many as 60 workers and serve as a warehouse for equipment and spare parts. Slated for delivery in 2024, Eco Edison is the first Jones Act-compliant wind farm service operations vessel in the U.S. and will be deployed to Port Jefferson, NY to operate as a base of operations at three planned Northeast wind farms – South Fork Wind, Revolution Wind and Sunrise Wind. Built over a potential 10-year period, with a total contractual value of $103 million, the 26-foot craft will feature a minimum top speed of 38 knots with power provided by a diesel engine with waterjet propulsion, and have a minimum range of 150 nautical miles.

• Alabama Shipyard LLC of Mobile, Al., has been awarded a $10.8 million contract for an 81-calendar day shipyard availability of the Military Sealift Command’s Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthall. Work is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The company has also secured a $19.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for a 120-calendar day shipyard availability for the mid-term readiness of the Military Sealift Command’s hospital ship USNS Comfort. Work is expected to be completed in Q1 2024. 

The Coast Guard has subcontracted for three variant types of inland and coastal waterways buoy tenders and inland construction cutters.
The Coast Guard has subcontracted for three variant types of inland and coastal waterways buoy tenders and inland construction cutters.

• Denver-based Birdon America, Inc. a subsidiary of Australia’s Birdon Pty Ltd. has awarded a first round of major subcontracts in support of its $1.187 billion contract to design and build 27 Waterways Commerce Cutters (WCC) for the U.S. Coast Guard. The subcontracts were awarded following a successful initial Program Management Review (PMR), the first major milestone of the WCC program. The firm-fixed price subcontracts call for the design, development, manufacturing, and delivery of three WCC variants “that will best meet mission needs” with greater endurance, speed, and deck load capacity than the cutters they will replace, according to the Coast Guard. All of the vessels will be monohulled and self-propelled, rather than tug and barge cutters currently in service. Plans call for the ultimate delivery of 16 River Buoy Tenders (WLR), 11 Inland Construction Tenders (WLIC), and three Inland Buoy Tenders (WLI). Subcontract awardees in the first tranche included Kern Martin Services, Inc., Coden, Ala.; Hiller Marine, Mobile, Ala.; Techcrane International, Covington, La.; Beier Integrated Systems, Gray, La.; LeBlanc Associates, Houma, La.; and Cummins, Charleston, S.C. 

• Austal USA has been awarded a fixed-price incentive contract option worth $71.7 million for the construction of a fifth Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship for the U.S. Navy. The shipbuilder has also contracted with the Navy to design and construction of up to seven TAGOS-25 class ocean surveillance ships. 

Delivery of the new diesel-electric hybrid ferry will make Casco Bay Lines one of the first U.S. public passenger ferry systems to fully utilize such technology.
Delivery of the new diesel-electric hybrid ferry will make Casco Bay Lines one of the first U.S. public passenger ferry systems to fully utilize such technology.

• Work continues at Senesco Marine’s North Kingstown, R.I. yard on the construction of a new $25 million 599-passenger double-ended hybrid-electric ferry for Casco Bay Lines. The new 164-foot passenger-vehicle ferry was designed by the Elliott Bay Design Group and will replace the diesel-powered Machigonne II, a 36-year-old passenger-vehicle ferry that services Peaks Island in Casco Bay. In a related development, the Maine Department of Transportation is slated to receive $33 million in federal funding to modernize its state-operated ferry service. The funding will include $28 million for a hybrid-electric vessel to replace a 35-year-old ferry that currently serves the 600 residents of Islesboro Island in upper Penobscot Bay. 

• Seattle-headquartered Snow & Company Inc. has been awarded a contract to build two 50-foot aluminum pilot boats for the Crescent River Port Pilots’ Association of New Orleans. La. Designed by UK-based Camarc Design, the all-aluminum vessels will feature a refined hull with enhanced fuel efficiencies and reduced slamming accelerations.

• The Association of Maryland Pilots has ordered a new pilot boat from Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding. The high-speed vessel is a sister ship to the yard’s first Baltimore-class launch, delivered less than two years ago. Delivery is scheduled for 2024. With a length overall of 48.5 feet, the all-aluminum pilot boat features a Ray Hunt Design deep-V hull powered by twin Volvo Penta D13, EPA Tier 3-compliant diesel engines, each delivering 600 hp at 1,900 rpm with a top speed of 30 knots. A Humphree interceptor trim-tab control system, with automatic trim optimization, will be installed at the transom. The engines will turn five-blade Bruntons NiBral alloy propellers via ZF370A gearboxes. The boat will be equipped with a 6 kW Northern Lights genset with a Harken TR-31 safety rail installed on handrails on the sides and around the front of the wheelhouse. 

• General Dynamics NASSCO of San Diego, California, has been awarded a $736 million modification to an existing contract for construction of a ninth ship in the U.S. Navy’s John Lewis-class T-AO fleet oiler program. Construction is scheduled to begin on the replenishment ship in the third quarter of 2025.

• BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair has been awarded a $37,730,467 firm-fixed-price contract action for maintenance, modernization, and repair of USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) fiscal 2024 Selected Restricted Availability. The contract includes options that, if exercised, would bring its cumulative value to $42.4 million. Delivered by Ingalls Shipbuilding in 2016, LPD 26 is the Navy’s 10th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. Homeported in San Diego, the ship is a part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and returned to San Diego recently after a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. The scope of the contract includes all labor, supervision, equipment, production, testing, facilities, and quality assurance necessary to prepare the ship for deployment, according to the Washington, D.C-based Naval Sea Systems Command, which oversees the Navy’s critical modernization, maintenance and repair programs.