The crew/supply boat sector did not suffer the construction slowdown endured by the supply boat sector for the last three years. The construction of these speedy all-aluminum workhorses of the Gulf of Mexico oil patch has continued at a high level, about 35 to 45 vessels per year.
The demand is very strong for crew/supply boats. Fleet utilization is almost 100 percent and day rates have naturally risen in response.
In January 2006, fleet utilization was at 99 percent versus 94 percent a year earlier, according to a survey polled by ODS-Petrodata Houston. Day rate differences were even more dramatic. The same survey showed that in January 2006, operators of crew/supply boats over 150 feet long brought a daily average of $8,200 versus $4,400 a year earlier.
“I don’t recall this much demand for our vessels in the past,” said Ike Travis, general manager of Texas Crew Boats, Freeport, Texas.
True, some builders such as Gulf Craft Inc., in Patterson, La., diversified into high-speed ferries and other passenger craft when the company’s crew/supply boat business dipped somewhat in 2004 and 2005, but this nimble-footed ability to roll with the market ups and downs enabled Gulf Craft to keep a full work force. Now that activity in the Gulf is up again, the crew boat sector appears ready to meet an upward spike in the demand for these vessels.
Gulf Craft spent most of 2005 and the first half of 2006 working on vessels other than crew/supply boats. Two high-speed ferries and several passenger boats have kept this shipyard as busy as it has ever been.
Now with the up tick in the oil patch, crew/supply boat orders are flowing onto the order book. The company has built well over 60 vessels for Seacor Marine and its predecessor company McCall Boat Rentals, and Seacor has returned to Gulf Craft for additional vessels.
A 190-by-34-foot vessel will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2006. This vessel will be very similar to Granville McCall, delivered in 2002, with the addition of DP-2 capability and tanks to hold 1,100 barrels of liquid mud. At the time, Granville McCall was the world’s largest crew/supply boat.
The 190-footer will be followed by a 165-foot-by-32-foot crew/supply craft for Seacor. It is very likely that Seacor and Gulf Craft will continue their boat building collaboration beyond these two vessels, but nothing has been announced.
Breaux’s Bay Craft
Breaux’s Bay Craft, in Loreauville, La., is about as busy as it has ever been. “Much of our business is repeat customers, so they must like what we have built for them in the past,” said Roy Breaux Jr., president of the firm. “We have deliveries stretched out to 2010.”
In January and May of 2006, Breaux’s Bay Craft delivered the fourth and fifth 162-foot crew/supply boat to Crewboats Inc., Chalmette, La. Both Rapid Runner II and Horizon Runner II feature a 100-by-26-foot clear-span rear deck for cargo and below-deck tankage for 16,500 gallons of water and 40,000 gallons of rig water.
The main deck is set up for 72 passengers in the cabin and a light-ship speed of 29 knots that falls only 2 knots with 110 tons of load. Main power is from four Caterpillar 3512B engines with a pair of Caterpillar 3306 producing 75 kW of electrical power each.
Crewboats, Inc. will take at least two more 162-foot vessels from Breaux’s Bay Craft, one in 2007 and one in 2008 or 2009.
Another repeat customer is Offshore Oil Services of Freeport, Texas. In 2005, the 162-foot Raymond M.
joined the Offshore Oil Services fleet of seven other vessels, including the 110-foot Hannah Rae
, also built by Breaux Bay Craft.
In August, the 145-foot Anna M
will be delivered to Offshore Oil Services followed by another crew/supply vessel in 2007 or 2008.
In 2004 Breaux’s Bay Craft delivered the 162-foot Mr. Lloyd in 2004 to Gulf Offshore Logistics. Now the company is back for four more crew/supply vessels, the first being a 171-foot boat for November 2006 delivery. The other three will be delivered over the next three years.
Jade Marine Inc., of Belle Chasse, La., and Tobias Inc., of Erath, La., two companies run by the same family, are also in line for three boats, the first being delivered to Tobias in April 2007. It will be the familiar 162-foot vessel.
Breaux Brothers Enterprises
The jewels in the Breaux Brothers Enterprises order book are the vessels being built for Edison Chouest Offshore over the next three years. Three of these will be delivered in 2006. (See Fast Tempo story, this issue)
In addition to the Chouest vessels, Breaux Brothers Enterprises will build a pair of 145-foot-by-27-foot crew/supply vessels for the Miller Marine Group and a pair of 176-foot boats for Gulf Logistics, Golden Meadow, La. Both are repeat customers. Gulf Logistics has built three other crew/supply vessels at Breaux Brothers Enterprises including Ms. Nancy two years ago.
“We like to keep our equipment new and state of the art,” said Joey Arceneaux, president of C&G Boats, the marketing company that operates Gulf Logistics. “Speed is very important to us for the successful operation of our crew vessels. We like light-ship operation around 30 knots and not less than 25 knots under load. That’s what we got with the Ms. Nancy we built here in 2004 and we will get with this new vessel.”
|A 160-foot crew/supply boat under construction by Breaux Brothers is turned upright for the addition of the hull machinery, main deck and superstructure. Three of these boats were to be delivered to Edison Chouest in 2006. [Courtesy Breaux Brothers Enterprises]
Deliveries are scheduled for April 2007 and September 2007.
The two 145-foot vessels Breaux Brothers is building for Miller Marine Group are unusual in using something other than Caterpillar or Cummins diesel for main power. A quartet of Yanmar LAK-STE6 engines rated at 910 hp each was chosen. They drive Yanmar 2.5:1 gears. The first of these boats, Mid Atlantic Limited, was delivered in August.
They also feature Thrustmaster tunnel bow thrusters and are ABS loadline and ABS classed, not only as crewboats but also as SOLAS standby vessels.
The latter designation calls for special equipment such as a treatment room with full medical supplies, a recovery room along with a crane, rescue scramble net, Jason’s cradle and a Stokes’ litter. The cradle is used in man-overboard situations and the litter is a collapsible stretcher for easy onboard storage.
Built into the bulwarks are 17.5-foot port and starboard rescue zones that open directly to the sea for easier rescue. These boats are also fitted with a crucial-oil-dispersant system that includes two 250-gallon stainless steel tanks to hold dispersant, used to break up oil spills. Delivery of the first vessel is scheduled for August 2006 with the second vessel scheduled for January 2007. Passenger capacity is 60 people for each vessel.
Neuville Boat Works
For Kerry and Errol Neuville, owners of Neuville Boat Works, it is a matter of turning out one crew/supply boat after another. In late 2005, the company delivered Bernie McCall
, a robust crew/supply vessel with five KTA-38 Cummins diesels rated at 1350 hp each.
For 2006, they have built two small 46.5-by-15-foot inland crew/supply boats for Parker Drilling, Houston. The two vessels for Parker Drilling will work on inland water areas where Parker uses its drilling barges. These two vessels use Cummins 2SL9M engines rated at 400 hp each. They can each hold 30 passengers and have a 12-by-12-foot rear deck that can hold three tons of freight. Delivered in April and May 2006, the vessels are named Mr. Jim and Mr. Shelby.
In June, Neuville delivered Miss Claire, a 155-by-28-foot vessel to Texas Crewboats. Powered by a quartet of 1,350-hp Cummins KTA38 diesels, Miss Claire will be able to travel at 26 knots and can hold 49 passengers in the main deck cabin. There is also a Thrustmaster 24-inch tunnel thruster in the bow and two Cummins 99-kW gensets in the hull. Capacities are 18,500 gallons of fuel, 33,700 gallons of rig water and 185 long tons of cargo on the rear deck.
Next project for Neuville is a 154-foot crew/supply vessel for an old customer, Iberia Crewboat Rentals in New Iberia, La. Delivery is slated for February 2007. Power will be four Cummins KTA-38 engines rated at 1350 hp.
C&G Boat Works
C&G Boat Works, in Mobile, Ala., has expanded from three building bays to five, and the company is replacing its 330-ton Travelift with a 600-metric ton model.
“We have a good amount of business now with drilling up in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Mickey Cook, general manager of the shipyard. “We build crew/supply boats for our sister company Graham Gulf, Tidewater, Bourbon USA and most recently landed a contract to built crew/supply boats for Rigdon Marine.”
|Not all crew/supply boats are over 150 feet long. Mr. Shelby, built by Neuville Boat Works for Parker Drilling, is less than 47 feet and can hold 30 passengers.[Courtesy Parker Drilling]
It was C&G Boat Works that sat the crew/supply boat business on its ear in 2003 with a Tidewater design that featured mud tanks and a lot fewer passengers, 38 to be exact. Tidewater Inc. ordered four of these 175-by-35-foot vessels, then four more, then three more.
C&G is still building these vessels and delivered one in March of 2006 and one in July 2006. Two are scheduled for October 2007. A 155-foot vessel, Gulf Majesty, was delivered to Graham Gulf in August 2006.
A new company, Bourbon USA, is responsible for a lot of recent construction. Two 155-foot vessels, Castor
, left the yard in October 2005 and December 2005 respectively. Bourbon Leda
left the yard in June 2006.
Graham Gulf is in line for five crew/supply vessels in the 165-175-foot size.
C&G has also begun construction on a series of eight fast supply vessels with liquid mud carrying capacity for Rigdon Marine, Houston. This will be the first delivery of crew/supply boats for the company, which also has 10 supply boats on order with another yard. Four of the crew/supply vessels will be 181 footers and four 165 footers.
“All of our crew/supply boats presently use Cummins KTA-50’s for main power,” said Cook. “Four 1,850-hp engines seems to be what it takes to get the job done in the Gulf today.”
Bourbon Offshore is also building crew/supply vessels at Midship Marine, Harvey, La. For the past several years Midship Marine has been building all-aluminum excursion vessels for several Caribbean and Central American countries. But with an expanded shipyard, Midship Marine is building high-performance crew/supply vessels. Bourbon Bora
is a 170-by-32-foot vessel with main cabin seating for 80 workers. Propulsion comes from four Cummins KTA50 M2 engines rated at 1,800 hp each. The engines turn Reintjes gears powering Hamilton 811 waterjets.
Other crew/supply boat construction includes a 170-foot vessel by Swiftships, Morgan City, La., for an old customer, Candy Fleet, also of Morgan City.
With the major crew/supply boat yards now full and pushing delivery dates out at least for two years, look for other marine fabricators that may have built crew/supply boats in the past to reenter the market.