Michael G. McCall

A six-vessel order from Seacor Marine for 190-foot crew/supply boats is giving at least one Louisiana builder a steady source of work in an otherwise stop-and-go industry.

Michael G. McCall (photo courtesy Gulf Craft LLC)

The all-aluminum vessels coming out of the yard at Gulf Craft LLC, in Patterson, are the largest, most powerful vessels under construction, and four of them are powered by waterjets.

The first boat, Alice G. McCall, was delivered in 2008 and was followed by Paula McCall, which joined the Seacor fleet last October. These vessels used five Cummins diesels with Twin Disc gears and Michigan props, but the new series, led by Michael G. McCall, uses MTU diesels, Twin Disc gears and Hamilton waterjets.

Capt. Patrick French backs up to an oil platform south of Morgan City, La., during sea trials. (Brian Gauvin photo)

Considerable fanfare accompanied the new boat’s christening May 14. The vessel was named for Michael Gellert, who has retired from the board of Seacor Holdings, Inc.

Gellert, born in Prague in what was then Czechoslovakia, was educated at Harvard University and earned an MBA from the Wharton School in Philadelphia. Some of his better-known ventures include Devon Energy, Humana Inc., Six Flags, Regal Cinemas and, of course, Seacor.

The cargo deck is 3,344 square feet with a capacity of 350 tons; belowdeck tanks hold 44,080 gallons of water and 51,840 gallons of fuel oil. (Brian Gauvin photo)

The relationship between Seacor Marine, of Houma, and a Gulf Craft predecessor, McCall Boat Rentals, reaches back to the mid 1990s. When this contract is completed, Gulf Craft will have built 66 crew/supply boats for this customer.

Seacor has a history of building vessels with waterjets. “We built a couple of five-engine waterjet crew/supply boats about 10 years ago, but not with the size and power of this series,” said Joe McCall, Seacor’s project manager. “Vessel uptime is important, so we use engines, machinery and jets that have a proven history of reliability as we operate in remote locations and are in demanding service.

Chief Engineer Selvin Almendares is in charge of a power plant that packs far more electric power than normal for a crew/supply vessel. (Brian Gauvin photo)

“Water jets present a tradeoff,” McCall added. “Jets offer a higher speed than propellers, but propellers can carry a heavier load without losing as much speed, so we have both in our fleet.”

Michael G. McCall is much more than a fast, high-powered vessel with a huge cargo deck and belowdeck tank capacities. It is also a high-tech, fuel-efficient vessel, with Tier 2 engines, a DP-2 rating, a pair of high-capacity firefighting monitors and a full suite of electronics for navigation and communications.

Its five MTU 12V 4000 diesels, each rated at 1,770 hp, generate a total of 8,850 hp, driving Hamilton HM811 waterjets through Twin Disc MG-6848 gears. Directional nozzles or “buckets” are attached to engines 1, 2, 4 and 5 for steering control. Waterjet 3 has no bucket and is used for a boost in speed.

The boat has three tunnel thrusters to maintain dynamic positioning, ensuring accurate maneuvering even if one goes down. (Brian Gauvin photo)

Top speed is 29 knots, cruising speed 26 knots and economy speed 21 knots.

There are three Cummins QSM-11 diesels, two on the starboard side and a third behind a large switchboard to port. Each drives a 280-kW generator for ship’s electrical power rated at 480 VAC at 60 hertz, three-phase.

That’s considerably more electric power than is normal for a crew/supply vessel; just a few years ago, a pair of 99-kW generators would have done the job, although more recently the power total has increased to about 300 kW. Michael G. McCall, with a lot more demand for electric power, has access to almost 900 kW.

Part of the demand comes from three 200-hp motors that operate a trio of Thrustmaster tunnel thrusters, the key to the DP-2 rating that makes the vessel so maneuverable around oil rigs and platforms.

The center console with the Hamilton-Jet controls in the foreground and the joysticks for the three bow thrusters at top right. (Brian Gauvin photo)

“Three bow thrusters gives us redundancy, so in case of a problem with one thruster, our capability may be diminished, but we are still able to afford our customers support with the remaining two,” said McCall.

Increasingly, oil companies and contract drillers are demanding that supply vessels be controlled by advanced DP systems to prevent allisions with the rigs or platforms; tying off to a fixed structure is no longer an option for service vessels. DP also means faster and safer offloading of cargo and personnel.

“As drilling operations move further from shore, the importance of speed increases. The DP-2 system allows the operator to maintain the best possible station keeping at the rig while cargo operations or personnel transfers are underway, thus minimizing time spent unloading and loading,” said McCall.

“The extra redundancy offered by DP-2 also affords greater safety.”

Hull depth is 13 feet, with light draft at 6.5 feet and loaded draft at 10.4 feet. Gross registered tonnage is 98, net tonnage 66.

The engine monitors in the pilothouse. (Brian Gauvin photo)

The vessel’s cargo deck is 3,344 square feet and can hold 350 long tons of cargo. The vessel can deliver both fuel oil and drill or fresh water to its customers in the Gulf; it can carry 44,080 gallons of water and 51,840 gallons of fuel oil in belowdeck tanks. Tanks for non-transferable liquids such as gray water, black water, hydraulic oil and potable water are in the hull as well.

Drill water can be discharged at 236 gallons per minute at 375 feet and fuel oil at 200 gpm at 379 feet.

In the forward part of the hull, just aft of the bow thruster compartment, are the crew galley, lounge and accommodations. The boat has seven crew cabins and 12 bunks, and there are two crew heads with showers. The galley can seat six and is equipped with TV/VCR/DVD.

“All of our vessels feature first-class passenger amenities such as reclining seats, seat belts, wireless Internet and satellite TV,” McCall added. “Another important feature for passenger comfort is ride control that dampens the pitch and roll of the vessel.”

The superstructure houses a main-deck passenger cabin with 50 business-class seats. There are two 32-inch televisions, each with a VCR. In the aft section of the passenger compartment there is a luggage storage locker and a passenger head.

Near the aft end of the rear deck, fire monitors are mounted port and starboard. Both have a rating of 5,300 gpm.

The spacious pilothouse features an enhanced electronic package. The forward helm has two captain’s seats installed across the wide console, which contains all the controls.

The rear-facing station is one of the largest yet installed on a crew/supply boat and rivals the size of the forward helm. It too has two captain’s chairs and a duplicate set of most controls, but it also has the controls for operating and monitoring the loading and offloading liquids from below deck and cargo from the deck itself. The DP-2 equipment controls are prominent, as is the fan-beam system for precise positioning of the vessel.

Pilothouse equipment includes magnetic and electric compasses, a pair of radars, two VHF radios and an SSB, GMDSS, two GPS units, a Kongsberg DPS-2 system, depth recorder, Navtex, Internet/e-mail system and an EPIRB.

“We also have a night-vision camera for enhanced navigation under low or no light conditions,” said McCall.

Other enhanced systems include a CCTV system with monitors in the passenger compartment, engine room and thruster room and on the rear deck.

The six-member crew of Michael G. McCall were together on an earlier vessel, the 180-foot Ingrid McCall. “We got assigned to other boats during the last few years, but now we are back together crewing this fantastic new boat,” said John R. Oliver, the new vessel’s captain.

A Headhunter plant handles waste from the crew toilets and the galley. Deck lighting has been enhanced with eight 1,500-watt lights and a pair of 250-watt lights.

Equipment distributors for the propulsion and electrical generation equipment include Stewart & Stevenson Inc., of Harvey, La.; Sewart Supply Inc., also of Harvey, for the Twin Disc gears and Hamilton waterjets, and Cummins Mid-South, of Kenner, La., for the generators.

“These engines are among the largest we offer, although those on the next vessel, Celeste McCall, will be larger,” said Johnny Knight, North American sales manager for HamiltonJet, a New Zealand-based company.

“Speed is the main feature of water jets, although they have advantages of less maintenance and easier installation by the shipyard. Our engine packages ship complete. The shipyard has to bolt or weld them in place and connect electric power to them to operate the electric hydraulic steering system with joystick and other controls in the helm,” Knight continued.

Seacor Marine took delivery of the vessel in May. “There will be another delivered in fall 2010 and two more in 2011, all waterjet powered,” said Scotty Tibbs, Gulf Craft’s comptroller.

By Professional Mariner Staff