Liam J. McCall

Liam J. Mccall 1

“Fast, faster, fastest” is a buzz phrase that aptly describes the evolution of SEACOR Marine’s fleet of fast supply vessels (FSVs). First there was the Express class, then the Express Plus class, and now, with the delivery of the 194-foot Liam J. McCall in February, the Express Plus-Plus class. The boat, built by Gulf Craft LLC in Franklin, La., can reach speeds of nearly 40 knots while providing a new level of passenger comfort.

On an initial delivery run in February, Capt. Rick Oliver used the opportunity to show off that speed. When Oliver thrust forward on the five throttles, the vessel got up and seemed to fly over the water.

“SEACOR’s seventh-generation FSV designs are focused on maximum speed while maintaining crew and passenger comfort,” said Joe McCall, senior project manager for SEACOR.

At Port Fourchon, La., in August, fresh from a deepwater charter for Chevron and about to begin a charter with Anadarko, Capt. James Taylor confirmed the early reviews: “We’re making some good speed with her.”

Capt. James Taylor takes a break at the forward console of Liam J. McCall at Port Fourchon, La. He gave the boat high marks after completing a deepwater charter for Chevron in the Gulf of Mexico. 

In addition to speed and comfort, the Express Plus-Plus boats, designed by Incat Crowther in Lafayette, La., also address deck cargo capacity and emergency evacuation capability — both important considerations as oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico are conducted hundreds of miles from the coast.

With those operations reaching ever farther to sea, demand has grown for more speed and more supply capacity, resulting in the birth of the FSV. On the leading edge of that development was Norman McCall of McCall Boat Rentals.

When SEACOR and McCall Boat merged in 1996, Norman McCall and his son, Joe, came in the bargain. The McCalls had built a highly reputable fleet of fast crew boats plying the Gulf Coast oil field. Bolstered by the international profile of SEACOR and the escalation of deepwater drilling, the pair spearheaded the evolution of crew boats into FSVs.

The shift to faster boats with more cargo capacity began in the late 1990s, notably with such vessels as the 8,100-hp Doreen McCall in 1999. The 183-foot boat has a cargo deck encompassing 3,192 square feet and bench-class seating for 80 passengers. Other companies followed suit, but with amazing consistency, SEACOR has launched innovations that keep boosting FSV capability and performance.

The new fast supply vessel has 58 plush passenger seats mounted on a rail system, allowing them to be reconfigured to meet a charterer’s needs.

Gulf Craft has a long working relationship with McCall Boat and SEACOR, having built the bulk of their crew boats and FSVs. Liam J. McCall, the first boat in a four-vessel contract, is a welcome bite of work for the yard during a serious depression in the oil field support market.

Liam J. McCall’s speed and redundancy are comparable to its predecessors in the 205-foot Express Plus class,” said Joe McCall. “This is achieved with a lot of horsepower and an efficient hull design. The quint-engine propulsion system provides power and redundancy, affording the customer more speed and increased reliability over the typical FSV.”

Powered by five 2,680-hp Cummins QSK60 engines generating a total of 13,400 hp at 1,900 rpm, Liam J. McCall is rated at 38 knots (light boat) and 25 knots loaded. The marine gears are Twin Disc MGX-61500SC units with 2.56:1 reduction ratios driving HamiltonJet HT810 waterjets. HamiltonJet also supplied the steering system and engine gear controls. Three 200-hp Thrustmaster bow thrusters add redundancy and precise stationkeeping for the DP-2 vessel.

Liam J. McCall has a cargo deck encompassing 3,325 square feet and can support a load of up to 300 long tons. The cargo deck has 30 pad eyes rated at 2,370 pounds each. Tankage capacities are 62,700 gallons of fuel oil, 5,600 gallons of potable water and 650 gallons of engine lube oil.

The FSV’s powerful array of five Cummins main engines is complemented by three Cummins QSM11 290-kW generator sets rated EPA Tier 3.

“The large crew boats operate in the semi-displacement speed regime,” said Crayke Windsor, naval architect with Incat Crowther and project manager on the 194s. “Performance in this operational envelope is largely driven by waterline length. Thus, by maximizing the length of the vessel, vis-a-vis a plumb bow, we are gaining efficiency. By contrast, a raked bow loses waterline length.”

Windsor said a lot of time was spent gaining an understanding of the distribution of volume for the vessel. “This three-dimensional concept is represented in a two-dimensional graph known as the curve of areas,” he said. “The vessel carries a lot of fluids and a lot of deck cargo. She can basically carry herself in deadweight items. Understanding where those deadweight items are placed drove the underwater profile of the vessel so as to avoid excessive trimming by the bow or stern. This is key to performance.”

He added that listening to SEACOR, represented by Joe McCall, who grew up in the industry, aided Incat Crowther in tailoring the design to the client’s specific needs. “(McCall) was instrumental in conveying his knowledge and understanding of what the operational profile of the vessel would be,” Windsor said. “As a result, Incat Crowther delivered a high-specification, high-speed marine solution that met expectations.”

At Port Fourchon, Taylor concurred. “It performs as Incat said it would,” he said. “We’ve had it up to 39.6 knots, light boat, and 30 knots with 250 long tons on deck. And the bow really grows on you. It takes the sea really well, shooting the water off to the side.” A double row of spray rails helps deflect water away from the foredeck and house. “This cabin is not a wet cabin,” Taylor said.

Liam J. McCall’s “get up and go” is on full display as the FSV cruises the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and Atchafalaya River. 

To address safety and emergencies, the vessel carries five 25-person inflatable rafts and a rescue davit and basket. Palfinger Ned-Deck supplied a six-person SOLAS rescue boat, and there are also fixed boarding ramps port and starboard.

The FiFi-1 firefighting system consists of two FFS monitors mounted port and starboard like sentinels on the stern. The monitors are equipped for remote control and one of them can dispense foam. FFS fire pumps deliver 5,300 gallons per minute to each. In the machinery areas, there is a Novec 1230 fire suppression system.

Each new generation of SEACOR FSV is fitted with an array of the latest equipment and electronics. For Liam J. McCall, Furuno supplied the navigation and communication components and Kongsberg integrated the dynamic positioning system.

The major difference between Liam J. McCall and its predecessors is passenger comfort. Originally the vessel was intended to carry 126 passengers, a significant increase over a typical FSV. This was made possible by extending the superstructure out to the shear of the boat, thereby increasing the dimensions of the passenger lounge.

Power from five Cummins 2,680-hp diesels drives five HamiltonJet HT810 waterjets. “We’ve had it up to 39.6 knots, light boat,” says Capt. James Taylor.

During construction, however, SEACOR decided to reduce the passenger count to 58 and increase comfort. The objectives were to compete with expensive helicopter transportation offshore and to reduce the fatigue from long transits, often in heavy seas, to deepwater operations. The result is the equivalent of first-class seating on an airliner.

Robert Clemons, executive vice president and chief operating officer for SEACOR Marine Holdings Inc., said the seating is mounted on a rail system, allowing the cabin to be quickly customized to meet the requirements of the charterer.

“The seats are designed to maximize comfort so that the passengers arrive at their destination well rested,” he said. “The seats feature an adjustable foot rest, adjustable recline and are wider than the industry standard.”

The seating, supplied by Sterling’s Upholstery & Fabrication of New Iberia, La., includes back pockets, seat belts and beverage holders — features not usually associated with a crew boat.

Speed and comfort don’t trump emergency preparedness on Liam J. McCall. The FSV has a Palfinger Ned-Deck six-person SOLAS rescue boat, a rescue davit and basket, and five 25-person inflatable life rafts.

The cabin is fitted with acoustic insulation to reduce noise, a common contributor to passenger fatigue, and there is an active motion-dampening system to reduce roll and pitch when operating in open water.

“The overall build-out is great on this boat,” Taylor said. “Gulf Craft really outdid themselves on this one.”

“With galley stations, big-screen TVs, mood lighting and first-class seating, we want the passengers to have a comfortable and relaxing ride on every trip,” McCall said.

By Professional Mariner Staff