First and Ten: Deja vu: Rigdon orders another 10 supply vessels


Diesel/electric power plants are a feature not just of the 10 vessels being built by Bollinger but of the previous series built by Bender. A power management system determines which engines will run based on the demands of the vessel. Above: First and Ten. (Photos courtesy of Bollinger Shipyards Inc.)

A common feature of supply boat construction in 2007 is that many vessels are being built in lots of 10 or more — up to 14 by a single shipyard for a single owner. Typical of this construction is the series of ten 190-foot diesel/electric supply boats currently underway at Bollinger Shipyards Inc. at its home shipyard in Lockport, La.

Rigdon Marine of Houston ordered these high-specification platform supply vessels, which are based on the GPA 654 class designed by Guido Perla & Associates of Seattle. Another order for vessels of the same class is under construction at a Chinese shipyard for Bourbon Offshore, the French marine services giant that helped Rigdon with a $125 million financing agreement for a previous series of supply boats, also designed by Guido Perla. Bourbon has since increased its investment in Rigdon by $9.1 million.

The first vessel in the new series, First and 10, was delivered in August. Subsequent deliveries are scheduled every other month through late 2008.

Asked about the rate of production, Donald "Boysie" Bollinger, president, chairman and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards, commented: "It seems to be unusually fast because we have so many to build. That is the only unusual part."


First and Ten's DP system uses a pair of IVCS consoles by Beier Radio, two Leica MX-420 DGPS units, a Cyscan laser reference unit, two Young Windbirds, two vertical reference units, two gyrocompasses, two alarm and event printers, two 7-kVA uninterrupted power supply units and an independent joystick controller.

Rigdon's earlier set of ten 210-foot supply boats was built by Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co. in Mobile, Ala., from 2002 through 2004.

"These earlier vessels have proved to be just what the market wanted, as each of them went to work as soon as it was delivered," said Larry Rigdon, president and CEO of Rigdon Marine.

The new vessels are 190 feet long by 46 feet wide with a hull depth of 18 feet and an operating draft of 14 feet.

Key to the vessels is their diesel/electric power plants. A pair of Cummins KTA-50 diesels drives generators rated at 1,235 kW each and a Cummins KT-19 engine/generator set adds another 435 kW to the power grid. A power management system determines which engines will run based on the demands of the vessel. In addition, a 113-kW genset is used for emergency power.

Propulsion is provided by a pair of 843-kW, 360° azimuthing thruster z-drives and one 843-kW z-drive fixed thruster, all by Steerprop. In the bow is a pair of 560-kW fixed tunnel thrusters.


Engines are located on the main deck level, which allows larger tanks for mud, drill water and fuel. Liquid mud capacity is 4,000 barrels; the eight mud tanks are oval, making them easy to clean.

Top speed at maximum draft will be 12 knots — a knot higher at light draft. At a 4.9-ft draft, fuel consumption is low — 110 gallons per hour at a cruising speed of 11.5 knots and 85 gph at the more economical speed of 10.5 knots.

Diesel/electric systems use less fuel than direct-drive systems and produce far less pollution, and the setup on these vessels offers a lot of flexibility. Gone are the reduction gears and long shaft alleys. Connection between the engines and the drivers in the stern is now electric wire, not hard metal shafts. "This frees up a lot of space," said Rigdon.



Owner/Operator: Rigdon Marine, Houston
Dimensions: L: 190' B: 46' D: 18'
Designer: Guido Perla & Associates, Seattle
Builder: Bollinger Shipyards, Lockport
Mission: Offshore Supply
Crew size: 5-6 (capacity: 12)

– Steel monohull
– Top speed: 13 knots (light), 12 knots at max. draft
– Operating draft: 14', light draft: 8'9"
– (2) Steerprop 843-kW azimuthing thrusters
– (1) Steerprop 843-kW fixed thruster
– (2) Berg 560-kW tunnel bow thrusters
– (2) Cummins KTA-50 1,235-kW generators; (1) KTA-19 435-kW
– Emergency generator: (1) Cummins/Onan DGDK 113 kW
– Gross registered tonnage <1,600; deadweight: 1,950 ST
– Cargo deck area: 112' x 37.3' (4,178 ft2)
– Cargo deck loading : .51 ST/ft2
– Deck cargo: 925 ST
– Fuel oil cargo: 125,900 gallons
– Fuel oil day tank: 7,800 gallons
– Bulk mud: 5,500 cu. ft.
– Liquid mud: 4,000 barrels
– Rig water: 115,300 gal

– Cargo fresh water: 88,200 gallons
– Ship fresh water: 9,000 gallons
– Fuel oil: 600 gpm at 200' TDH
– Rig fresh water: 660 gpm at 196'
– Liquid mud: 660 gpm at 196'
– Bulk material: 55 ST at 196'
– Rescue boat with davit
– Deck cargo crane, 2ST cap., telescoping boom, electro-
– Anchor windlass
– Roll Reduction System: bilge keels
– FiFi: (2) pumps at 5,283 gpm each; (2) monitors at 5,283 gpm

This design also created significant space in the hull, as the engines are located on the main deck level. That allows larger tanks for liquid mud, drill water and fuel.

The vessel has plenty of power options and redundancy to carry an ABS DP-2 certification. A diesel/electric power plant uses only the power it needs, so the vessel is very energy efficient when transferring liquid and bulk cargoes. Maximum power is used only to move from one location to another.

The DP system uses two IVCS consoles by Beier Radio, two Leica MX-420 DGPS units, a Cyscan laser reference unit, two Young Windbirds, two vertical reference units, two gyrocompasses, two DP alarm and event printers, two 7-kVA uninterrupted power supply units and an independent joystick controller.

First and Ten's fuel oil capacity is 125,900 gallons. Liquid mud, in eight tanks, totals 4,000 barrels. The liquid mud tanks are oval, making them easy to clean when changing weight of mud. There are two mud piping systems, enabling First and Ten to carry two different types of liquid mud along with Flygt mixers for agitation while underway.

Down the centerline of the hull are four bulk mud tanks with a capacity of 5,500 cubic feet of dry cement or other bulk materials. The vessel carries 115,300 gallons of rig water and 88,200 gallons of cargo fresh water. All liquid cargos transfer at a rate of 660 gpm at 196 feet.

The cargo deck area is 112 feet by 37.3 feet and can hold 925 short tons of deck cargo. There is an alarm, monitoring and control system for machinery spaces and remote-control monitoring of the bulk mud cargo system.

Vessels have bilge keels to counteract roll motions while underway.

The pilothouse has a full suite of communications and navigation equipment. In addition to the DP suite, it has two radars, a navigation gyrocompass, an autopilot, depth sounder, speed log and Navtex. There is a complete communications suite compliant with GMDSS area A3 rules.

A weatherfax and a loud hailer are also included. Optional equipment includes two firefighting pumps and two monitors rated at 5,283 gpm.

The superstructure has accommodations for 12 people. The main deck has space for galley, mess and stores.
How Larry Rigdon came out of retirement to make a big splash offshore

by John Gormley

To hear Larry T. Rigdon tell it, his success is the result of boredom and good luck, but it is safe to say that the innovative design of his platform support vessels played a role.


Above: Larry Rigdon (Photos by Brian Gauvin)

Rigdon is president and chief executive of Rigdon Marine, the New Orleans-based company he came out of retirement to found in 2002. Rigdon Marine owns and operates a fleet of 210-foot, 2,500-dwt vessels, and since the first was delivered by Bender Shipbuilding & Repair in 2004, they have established a standard for performance in the Gulf of Mexico. In offshore oilfields around the world, these are the kind of support vessels that major oil companies want.

What sets his boats apart is the combination of diesel/electric propulsion and DP-2 rating. The Rigdon boats were not the first to combine the two elements, but Rigdon's innovation was to design his vessels from the bottom up to achieve the greatest possible benefits from that combination.

"We were the first to pull leading-edge technologies together," he said.
The benefits came in operational efficiency and effectiveness, cargo carrying capacity, fuel economy, safety and crew comfort. At a stroke he made many of the offshore supply vessels in the Gulf of Mexico obsolete.

It would not have happened if Rigdon had preferred leisure to work. His retirement from Tidewater, where he had been executive vice president, was not entirely voluntary: He had been in the running for the top job but finished second. As is often the case in such circumstances, he ended up leaving.

At 54, he was restless and feeling at loose ends. "That didn't last but about two months," he said of his retirement. "I needed to find something to do or pick my divorce lawyer."
What he knew best, of course, was the offshore oil industry. At Tidewater, he had led a design team that produced a class of very large diesel/electric supply vessels, 260 feet long and 4,000 dwt, at the high end of the market.

Rigdon took it as his mission to make the technological advances his team had realized more broadly available. "I tried to bring it down to the middle of the market," he said.
To achieve his dream, he was going to have to bring into being a whole new class. While the original idea was his, the creation of the boats was the result of a collaboration with Guido Perla, the Seattle-based naval architect.

Rolling the dice

In December 2001, Rigdon founded his own company. By early 2002 he was developing his ideas. "That was my total focus," he said.

Rigdon was about to make a huge bet, and he would need a couple of things to succeed. One was an improved market. "At the time the market was not very strong, but the underlying elements indicated the market would be improving," he said.

He also needed to come up with a boat so efficient it would be hired when others sat at the dock for lack of work. It would be Perla's job to design this.

Perla began work in April 2002. "I set the specifications," Rigdon said, but it was Guido Perla & Associates that came up with the design that met them.

"It's his hull lines. It's his detailed work that makes it a great ship," Rigdon said.

The lines are reminiscent of fishing vessels. That's because Perla wanted to produce a vessel that would perform well and be safe in difficult conditions. Rigdon also wanted a boat that would please crews, one that would be comfortable and minimize fatigue and stress. So he and Perla paid close attention to noise levels and vibration.

Rigdon said he wanted a modern vessel that would send a message to mariners: that Rigdon Marine is a good place to work.

The vessels are complex, and Rigdon Marine puts a great deal of emphasis on training.

"We have to train our own," he said. "We put our people in the shipyard during the later stages of delivery. They learn the equipment as it is being installed and started up."

The 210-footers (above: St. Louis) were built to maximize the combination of diesel/electric propulsion and DP-2 rating.

The fatigue factor

Rigdon knows that there is a strong connection between casualties and crew fatigue, and Perla took that into account. The record of the ten 640-class vessels Rigdon operates seems to vindicate that attention to detail. Since May 2004, when the first went into operation, "we have yet to have a hull claim, no collisions, no damage to these vessels," he said.

The success of the GPA 640 class has encouraged Rigdon to embark on the construction of another series of platform support vessels designed by Perla (see accompanying story).

Again there will be 10 of them; the first was delivered by Bollinger Shipyard in Lockport, La., in August. They will be considerably smaller, at 190 feet and 1,840 dwt, but they will be able to carry 4,000 barrels of liquid mud, a key commodity for the offshore drilling industry. "That's double the capacity of any other vessel we know of that size," Rigdon said.

Rigdon won his bet. The 210-footers turned out to be a great design and the market improved. In fact it boomed.

While he did not predict the extent of the boom, he did believe many of the older vessels in service would become outmoded with the appearance of vessels like his.
"My bet was more on the old stuff getting obsolete," he said. Even if the total number of offshore vessels remained stable, he expected his boats to be in high demand. "I would be working," he explained, because his vessels would "provide a level of efficiency that did not exist in the market."

So the man who was bored in retirement got back into the game by creating a company that offered its customers a better product.

"I saw this as the best opportunity to do what I've always wanted to do â€" be an entrepreneur and own my own company," Rigdon said. "I've been very blessed and very lucky."

By Professional Mariner Staff