CREW BOATS: For aluminum yards, another full house

Construction at Breaux Brothers Enter-prises in Loreauville, La. a 42-foot, 18-passenger boat from Geo Shipyards designed for near-coastal work. There is space on deck for 3,000 lb. of cargo. (Larry Pearson)

For the Gulf’s crew/supply boat builders, lead times now stretch beyond two years. At least a dozen yards are working on crew boats, double the number of a couple of years ago, and builders of smaller aluminum passenger vessels have moved into the 160-foot range and longer to handle demand.

One such yard is Midship Marine, of Harvey, La. Mid-ship has built dozens of aluminum excursion vessels, semisubmersibles and ferries for the Caribbean, but today large offshore crew and supply boats dominate its order book.

Midship took its first stab at large crew boats with an order in 2006 for Bourbon Bora, a 170-foot vessel powered by four waterjets. A year later, Rigdon Marine came on board with Rigdon Sailfish, a 176-footer. Today, Midship is building four more Bourbon vessels. At 181 feet, these fast supply boats maximize deck space for cargo and belowdeck space for liquids, including liquid mud. Passenger space is limited to 36 people.

A 42-foot, 18-passenger boat from Geo Shipyards designed for near-coastal work. There is space on deck for 3,000 lb. of cargo. (Courtesy Geo Shipyard)

Island Boats, of Jeanerette, La., is building two sister ships to Sailfish. The first, Bourbon Libeccio, was delivered in June; the second, Rigdon Swordfish, was due in September.

The Bourbon and Rigdon designs are similar. Both use four Cummins KTA50 M2 engines delivering 1,800 hp through Reintjes gears to Hamilton HM811waterjets. Sea trial speeds have reached 32 to 33 knots. The vessels are rated DP-1, with up to 80 passengers in the main-deck cabin and a Wesmar 200 hp bow thruster. Rigdon vessels have 148 kW Cummins/Onan gensets; Bourbon boats have 99 kW gensets.

Behind the two Rigdon vessels at Island Boats are a pair of 168-foot crew/supply vessels for Southern States Offshore, of Houston.

Southern Belle and Southern Star are powered by four Cummins QSK50 engines rated at 1,800 hp each. Twin Disc gears connect to four-bladed, 50 by 50-inch Michi-gan Wheel props, yielding 27 knots light ship and 25 knots with 100 tons of deck cargo. There are two Thrust-master 100 hp bow thrusters.

Waterjets aboard Bourbon Libeccio, built by Island Boats. Libeccio is foreign flagged, unlike its sister, Rigdon Swordfish. (Courtesy Island Boats)

Island Boats expects to deliver these Subchapter T/ABS Loadline vessels in January and June, respectively.

C&G Boatworks, of Mobile, Ala., is probably the leader in deliveries to Rigdon, with the 181-foot Hammerhead delivered last year and Mako set for this year and Black Tip and Tiger for 2009. All four feature limited passenger seating with large deck and tank capacities, including 1,000 barrels of liquid mud. All are DP-1 rated and are powered by four Cummins QSK50s.

Also for delivery to Rigdon this year are two more conventional boats from C&G, Albacore and Bluefin, both 165-footers but with the same 7,200 hp as the 181-foot boats.

C&G also builds for its sister company, Graham Gulf. On the order books are two 175-foot crew/supply vessels.

In a clear indication that deepwater fleets that are less than five years old are highly prized, Rigdon Marine was purchased in May by Gulf-Mark Offshore, of Houston, for $561 million. After the acquisition, GulfMark will have 90 vessels in its fleet and 16 under construction.

Time to stretch
“They just keep getting bigger,” said Gulf Craft Vice President Scotty Tibbs recently, at his company’s yard in Bayou Teche, La. He was referring to three 190-foot monohulls the company is building for Seacor Marine. The first, Alice G. McCall, was delivered in August; the other two are on schedule for 2009. Power is from five Cummins KTA50 M2s rated at 1,800 hp each. Stretching crew/suppliers to 190 feet increases not only deck space, but also their liquid carrying capacity.

Alongside Alice was Seacor Cougar, the second of the revolutionary 170-foot catamarans that started with Seacor Cheetah (Page 12). Delivery is set for February.

Farther up U.S. 90 are the three crew/supply boat yards of Loreauville, La. One of them, Breaux Brothers Enterprises, has been busy for months with a six-vessel order for Edison Chouest Offshore.

All new Chouest crew/supply boats have ABS rated DP-2 systems. A Chouest company, Maritime Technology, is installing DP-2 on all its newbuilds and retrofitting some existing vessels. The trend is likely to spread.

Fast Tender, a 160-by-30-foot vessel with a 10-foot fantail, was delivered in March with four Caterpillar 3512C engines putting out 1,810 hp each. Deck area is 108 by 24.5 feet. Next up was the 160-foot Fast Track — no fantail, but plenty of Caterpillar 3512C power at 7,240 hp. A pair of 80 kW John Deere engines provide ship’s power and there are two Thrust-master tunnel bow thrusters.

Like other shipyard owners, Chouest seems to be joining the trend to longer and longer vessels. Three crew/

suppliers at 177 feet are next at Breaux Brothers for Chouest; each has an 8-foot fantail, increasing the overall length on deck to 185 feet.

“Fantails give a crew/supply boat additional length on deck without the corresponding cost increase in hull length,” said Vic Breaux, the company’s vice president.

Breaux Brothers also has a contract for a pair of 177-foot crew/supply boats with an 8-foot fantail for Gulf Logistics. As with the Chouest 185-footers, DP-2 is standard. Deliver-ies will start next year.

Just a few miles away in Loreauville is Breaux’s Bay Craft, not to be confused with the preceding company. Roy Breaux Jr.’s company continually has a full order book, mostly from repeat customers.

Earlier this year, the yard added to the fleet of Crew-boats Inc., with the 162-foot Lady Dakota. In mid June, the 145-foot Hannah Ray was delivered to Offshore Oil Service, of Freeport, Texas.

Now the company is working on three 180-foot, DP-2 service vessels for Joel Broussard of Gulf Offshore Logistics, of Mathews, La. Camille, Braxton and Ms. Lauren are scheduled for completion late this year and early next. All will be powered by four Caterpillar 3512C HD engines rated at 1,911 hp each, yielding 29 knots light ship and 27 knots with a 110-ton load.

Capacities include 53,000 gallons of rig water and 19,000 gallons of fuel, with 82 passengers. Clear deck space is 110 by 26 feet and deadweight tonnage is 360 tons. There are two tunnel bow thrusters, a must for DP-2.

The DP-2 system is the ICVS 2000 by Frank Beier Radio. Karl Beier, the company’s president, is seeing a lot of interest in DP and other high-tech systems. “In other boom periods, owners were not all that interested in high-tech electronics,” he says. “Now they are asking questions to see how they can make their boats better, more saleable to their customers.”

Looking to Tier 2
Neuville Boat Works also calls Loreauville home. The company has been busy with two crew/supply boats for Capt. Elliott Cundieff, who runs Texas Crewboats, of Freeport.

Greater Scott, a 158-by-30-foot vessel with a 12.5-foot molded depth, was delivered in January. In September, Sea Angel was due to join the fleet. Greater Scott is powered by four Cummins KTA38 M2 diesels rated at 5,400 hp total; Sea Angel will use new Tier-2 Cummins QSK38 M models.

Not all crew/supply boats are 160 feet plus. Geo Ship-yards, of New Iberia, La., delivered to Oil Field Con-tractors, of Abbeville, a 42-foot,18-passenger boat de-signed for near-coastal waters. Mr Will has a planing catamaran hull with deck space for 3,000 lb. of cargo. Two Cummins QSC 8.3 diesels rated at 490 hp each offer 28 knots and a fuel burn of only 25 gph per engine.

Morgan City, La., has seen two yards building crew boats this year. One, Swiftships, has been in business for decades. The other, Halimar Shipyard, is in just its fifth year.

Swiftships was one of the first yards to build waterjet-propelled crew boats in any number. The Candy Fleet, also of Morgan City, has been a customer for many years. In late 2007, Swiftships delivered a pair of 175-footers to Candy, Candy Counter and Candy Factory, both powered by four Cummins KTA38 diesels coupled to Hamilton waterjets.

Gulf Fleet Holdings, of Lafayette, La. is also a good customer of Swiftships. The company is having four 175-foot crew/supply vessels built. Two, Gulf Storm and Gulf Fury, have been delivered.

The Gulf Fleet Holdings vessels use larger power plants than the Candy Fleet boats. Four Cummins KTA50 M2 engines rated at 1,800 hp form the power source, and these feed Hamilton 811 waterjets through Twin Disc gears. There is seating for 70.

Halimar builds a range of vessels in both steel and aluminum. In aluminum, it is building crew/supply boats for Barry Graham Oil Service, of Bayou La Batre, Ala. Last year the yard delivered a 160-footer, Ms Bonnie; in July, a sister ship, Ms Kristie, followed. Both have Cummins KTA50 power; there are four engines per boat, rated at 1,800 hp each. Halimar will build three more sister ships for Graham.

Bayou La Batre, long known for shrimp trawlers, now has crew/supply activity as well. Horizon Shipbuilding is building a pair of 175-footers for use in Nigeria. Crew/supply boat building, in fact, extends east to the Florida Panhandle, where Freeport Shipbuilding has a 157-footer due later this year.

By Professional Mariner Staff