Going once, going twice

Going once, going twice

In a first-of-its-kind move, Bollinger Shipyards, of Lockport, La., built two 193-foot Gulf of Mexico-class supply boats and sold them via an Internet auction. Bollinger contacted 38 potential bidders for the supply boats. Those interested had to submit a refundable fee to participate in the auction. A minimum bid was set and companies bid on the vessels at an Internet site. Bollinger released no more information about the conduct of this auction.

Buying the vessels for an undisclosed sum was Odyssea Marine Inc., of Cut Off, La. The acquisition of these two vessels brings the number of OSVs to 16 in the Odyssea fleet.

The first vessel, Odyssea Champion has been delivered and is already at work in the Gulf of Mexico and the second supply boat, Odyssea Defender will join the Odyssea fleet in December.

Bollinger is also building 10 210-foot supply boats. Designed to SOLAS standards, they can be used worldwide. "The first of the larger 210-foot International-class vessels will be complete in March 2009. We have not decided how we will sell them,•bCrLf said Robert Socha, marketing director for Bollinger. "There have been press reports circulating that they will be auctioned off like the two 193s, but that is speculation at this point. We are contacting interested parties.•bCrLf

Halter and Candies team up to build OSV

A 285-foot supply boat is being built for an undisclosed buyer by two shipyards. VT Halter Marine is building the hull and deckhouses and Candies Shipbuilders, LLC, will perform the final outfitting.

With most offshore oil vessel builders filled to capacity, sometimes shipyards with yard space to build a hull and houses will team up with another yard that can do the finish work to get a vessel delivered on time. Still, it will be January 2010 before the vessel is delivered.

Aker Philadelphia Shipyard launches new product tanker

The sixth in a series of 12 product tankers moved off its launching blocks at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard in early November and was transferred by tugs to the outfitting dock. The 600-foot product tanker will be sold to American Shipping Company and bareboat chartered to OSG America. The vessel is scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2009.

All tankers will be complete by 2011 and will be used as shuttles between Floating Production, Storage and Offloading Vessels (FPSOs) in the Gulf of Mexico and the mainland United States.

Chouest is at it again

No shipyard has added more space or locations recently than Edison Chouest Offshore, of Galliano, La. The company has signed an agreement with Tom Bender, president of Bender Shipbuilding & Repair, of Mobile, Ala., to purchase Bender's controlling interest in Tampa Bay Shipbuilding & Repair. Tampa Bay Shipbuilding specializes in big ship repair and construction of large vessels such as tank barges. These two specialties do not exist within the expertise of the current Chouest shipyards.

For the last several years, Chouest has been buying physical assets and technology including companies that build Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVs) and Dynamic Positioning systems, along with Wheelhouse Electronics suppliers and other companies. It is believed that Chouest has incorporated more than 100 companies into its core shipbuilding business.

Talk about a large shipbuilding contract

Austal USA, headquartered in Mobile, Ala., has just been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Defense to build the new Joint High Speed Vessel. Ten of them will be built at a cost of $1.6 billion.

These vessels are similar in many design aspects to the high-speed ferry vessels being built by Austal USA for Hawaii Superferry.

Huge liftboat abuilding at Semco

Liftboats just keep getting bigger and bigger. For liftboats, bigger means longer legs so they can work in deeper water on the continental shelf. This new vessel will have 320-foot legs, enabling it to work in 250 to 260-foot water depths with plenty of clearance to handle large waves.

Naval architect for the project is A.K. Suda, of Metairie, La., and the shipyard is Semco, of Lafitte, La., which is known for building large liftboats.

Gulf Island Fabrication expands into vessels

One of the country's premier builders of offshore platforms, Gulf Island Fabrication, of Houma, La., has expanded its facilities to begin producing offshore vessels.

The company will invest $27 million in its newly formed marine division including a dry dock, fabrication shed and a new warehouse. Standing side by side in this new venture is the Louisiana Economic Development Corp. They will put up $2.3 million for an improved roadway, a public sewage collection system and a water line with fire hydrants and a drainage system.

Gulf Island Fabrication is already in the boat building business, constructing module sections for Edison Chouest Offshore. Their first new builds will be a dozen tugs.

Bruce Reagan dies

Bruce V. Reagan, founder and president of Northwind Marine, died last month. The company issued this statement:

"Bruce V. Reagan, president of Northwind Marine, Inc., Seattle, Washington passed away October 16th. Northwind Marine, Inc., will continue to build first class aluminum boats to Bruce's standards at the company's Seattle plant. Mr. Reagan, for 30 years a well known and award winning builder of various aluminum boats and yachts, was 63. He co-owned and operated Workboats Northwest from 1976 to 1995; founded Northwest Plasma Cutting and Sovereign Yachts in 1990 and Northwind Marine Inc., in 1995. He is survived by his wife, Allison, and two daughters.•bCrLf

Boland Marine storing history

Boland Marine, of New Orleans, La., a ship repair facility located on the Mississippi River, now has in storage all three of the famous steam-powered overnight passenger boats. American Queen, Mississippi Queen and Delta Queen are tied up at Boland Marine, awaiting an uncertain fate. The three vessels are owned by Majestic America Line, of Seattle. The company will not operate them next year and is trying to sell them. A sale comes too late for Mississippi Queen, which was gutted in 2007 in preparation for a total rebuild. That did not happen and the vessel has deteriorated so badly that it is full of mold and will probably be cut down and sold as a barge. For a New Orleans boy like myself, who rode this magnificent vessel twice and watched it glide up and down the Mississippi River countless times, this is much more than a shame.

If these three vessels do not return to a cruising status, that leaves only two steam-powered riverboats in regular service; the New Orleans-based Natchez and Louisville, Kentucky's Belle of Louisville, both of which are day-trip excursion boats.

Engine order book loosens around the world

Engine availability seems to be loosening. Wartsila, a major Finnish manufacturer of large diesel engines for oceangoing ships, thinks its order book may shrink by 10 percent through 2010, according to a report by Bloomsburg News.

The company's ship-power bookings declined for a second consecutive quarter, and the last quarter of 2008 doesn't look any better, the report said. The global economic slowdown is a part of the problem. Loans to ship owners may drop by a third this year.

In the United States, a major engine manufacturer is projecting somewhat of an order slowdown as well. Cummins Mid-South Vice President of Marine Marketing, Calvin Klotz, says that engines may be a little easier to get in 2009. "While we are still on allocation, we can get engines in about seven months,•bCrLf Klotz reports, "and a significant improvement over 2007.•bCrLf

"It takes a shipyard about seven to eight months to get a vessel to a point where they need engines for a newbuild,•bCrLf so timing for engine availability is better from the customer's viewpoint,•bCrLf Klotz said.

With many shipyards booked through 2010, the market will probably hold its own in the short term, but new orders may slow a bit.

Larry Pearson has been covering the maritime industry since 1981. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Marine Log, Diesel Progress, WorkBoat, Professional Mariner and American Ship Review. He published his own magazine, Passenger Vessel News, from 1991 to 1998. A graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in journalism and a minor in mechanical engineering, he lives in the New Orleans area.

By Professional Mariner Staff