Overseas Long Beach is designed to carry petroleum or chemicals in six pairs of segregated cargo tanks (top). Above: heading down the Delaware on sea trials.(Walter Garschagen, Courtesy of Aker Philadelphia Shipyard)
As product carriers go, there’s not much revolutionary about Overseas Long Beach. It’s not even the first vessel in its class. What makes it American Ship Review’s Ship of the Year is the achievement it represents: in number of vessels, this is one of the largest U.S. commercial shipbuilding projects since World War II.
Aker Philadelphia Shipyard launched Overseas Long Beach on St. Patrick’s Day and delivered the 46,000-dwt tanker to Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG), its bareboat charterer, on June 26. That followed by less than 20 weeks the delivery of a sister vessel, Overseas Houston. If all options are exercised, 16 of the double-hulled Jones Act carriers will be plying the U.S. coastline by the time the order book is closed out in 2012.
The 600-foot MT46 Veteran-class tankers emerge from a U.S. shipyard flying the U.S. flag, but they pull together shipbuilding practices from across the globe. Built to a South Korean design, Hyundai Mipo Dockyards’ Athenian class, the vessels take shape at an American yard using practices honed in Germany and Scandinavia — an influence apparent at Aker Philadelphia’s headquarters, whose splashy interior colors bring to mind an IKEA store.
The new tankers represent a $650 million investment by state and local governments and the shipyard itself. But the scale of the order — the price for the first 10 ships averages $86 million each — was the result of a decision by Morten Arntzen, president and chief executive officer of Overseas Shipholding, to take advantage of the double-hulling requirements of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 by strengthening OSG’s position in the Jones Act trade (OSG now says it plans to spin off its Jones Act fleet).
OSG’s executive vice president and CFO, Myles Itkin, told analysts in Boston in May that the U.S.-flag sector “constitutes a lucrative, protected trade with high barriers to entry and with long-term charters associated with the business.” He estimated growth in the U.S. flag-product carrier and ATB sector at 3 percent to 4 percent a year. Two of OSG’s rivals, U.S. Shipping and AHL Shipping, also plan new Jones Act tankers of roughly similar capacities (see story, Tankers aweigh).
|Discharge time for the entire cargo is 16 hours. Inside the cargo tanks, corrugated bulkheads replace the traditional stiffened panels. The structure of the main deck is external, so the cargo tanks are flush.|
OSG put Overseas Houston into service for Shell and chartered Overseas Long Beach to BP; OSG has also announced multiyear charters with Shell, BP and Tesoro. The actual owner of the vessels is American Shipping Corp., the shipyard’s sister company.
“Meat and potatoes”
Engineering Manager Jeremy Small has been at Aker Philadelphia Shipyard since 2001. His first impulse is to warn a visitor not to expect anything special from the product carriers — none of the complexity of the 941-foot “green” tankers that General Dynamics Nassco built recently for BP in San Diego. “This is a meat-and-potatoes, bread-and-butter working ship,” was his initial comment.
Later, poring over an inboard profile of the carriers, his enthusiasm grew.
“What makes this ship special is that it’s a very clean, efficient design,” he said. “It’s not fancy; it’s not chock-full of new technology and innovation. … They’ve squeezed as much into the space as they can to make it as easy and cost-effective to build and operate as possible.”
Overseas Long Beach has six pairs of segregated cargo tanks and the ability to carry 12 different cargoes for a total capacity of 331,700 barrels. The structure of the main deck is external, so the overheads in the cargo tanks are flush.
|Alex McDermott, a shipyard engineer, on the bridge of Overseas Long Beach.|
Corrugated bulkheads replace the traditional stiffened panels – flat plates with large horizontal and vertical stiffeners to add strength. Flat plates are labor-intensive to fabricate and paint (corrugated bulkheads are assembled simply by welding together Z-shaped sections), and cargo can fetch up on the stiffeners, making them hard to clean.
The Framo cargo system is hydraulic, with 12 SD-200 fully submerged cargo pumps. The system also powers the cargo and ballast pumps, valve actuators, winches and deck machinery. Discharge time for the entire cargo is 16 hours (“The Houston crew was very happy with the pumping speed,” said Small). All of the piping is stainless steel, and gasket and valves are chemical-resistant.
The propulsion system is simple: a MAN-B&W 6S50MC diesel rated at 8,700 kW at 127 rpm turns a 19-foot, four-blade propeller from Hyundai Heavy Industries. There is no bow thruster, and none of the redundancy found in many new propulsion systems; ports and terminals require escort and docking tugs anyway for tankers.
|Aker Philadelphia’s operation resembles an assembly line: As one vessel is outfitted, the next is in the graving dock and work is in progress on the next two ships in line. The bow section above is for the fourth OSG tanker. (Walter Garschagen photos)|
“You have your single main engine for propulsion, a slow-speed diesel,” said Small. “That’s direct-coupled driving your shaft and propeller, so you don’t have any reduction gears, you don’t have any power-takeoff generators or anything like that.”
Three Hyundai Heavy Industries auxiliary generator alternators are paired with three Yanmar generator engines/prime movers rated at 730 kW at 720 rpm to provide electrical power to the ship. The Framo unit also has a pair of 425-kW Cummings diesels to provide a redundant power source for the hydraulic system.
The main fuel is heavy fuel oil, but the main engine, generators and boiler can run off marine diesel as well.
Rolls-Royce supplied the hydraulic steering gear and Small said OSG asked for a Kobelco water stern-tube seal, an environmentally friendly upgrade. Other OSG upgrades included a change to Type-2 cargo vessel to expand chemical cargo-carrying capability, a new coating system for the tanks and shell, stronger mooring wires, steering-gear room heaters for cold-weather service, a lower radar mast (to clear U.S. bridges) and the addition of a high-strength escort tow bitt and chock for West Coast service.
OSG also redesigned the galley and crew lounges to suit American crews.
All berths are single, other than some emergency surge berths. Working spaces have a comfortable, open feel; the engine and deck office and cargo control rooms, for example, all have unobstructed views and easy main-deck access.
Aker Philadelphia Shipyard occupies the site of the old Philadelphia naval shipyard where the Schuylkill River meets the Delaware. The Navy yard closed in the 1990s, and it didn’t leave much that was usable. But it did have two old-fashioned 1,100-by-150-foot graving docks, a legacy of the 1940s. “That’s what makes the shipyard possible,” said Small. In the United States, he said, “You just don’t build those anymore.”
OVERSEAS LONG BEACH
Owner: American Shipping Corp.
The graving docks allow the yard to work on several ships at once. While the vessel nearest to completion is in the outfitting dock, the next in line is in the building dock and key blocks of the third vessel are taking shape behind it.
Ownership of the yard has undergone multiple permutations (“All of our business cards kept getting changed for a while,” said Small), but Aker’s predecessor, Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard, saw potential. Kvaerner’s European parent had a long history of shipyard renewal in Finland and Germany, and it set up shop on 114 acres of the original property.
The first four hulls out of the yard were 712-foot Philadelphia-class containerships for Matson Navigation Co.’s Hawaii service (the second, Maunawili, was profiled in American Ship Review 2004-2005). The ships were based on a German design, and the first took more than three years to build. By the fourth vessel, delivered in 2006, the yard had wised up and kept changes to a minimum. “That set the groundwork for this tanker project,” said Small.
According to Small, it was OSG that proposed the product carriers. It already had a strong relationship with Hyundai Mipo Dockyards (HMD), its vendors and suppliers. Now it saw an opportunity for 600-foot tankers flagged in the United States. What if Philadelphia could build a series of cookie-cutter tankers to HMD’s design?
The shipyard assumed the risk, and OSG signed the charter agreement. In 2004, the yard signed a $27 million deal with HMD for design and procurement services for 10 tankers (the relationship was extended and broadened to include possible containerships this March). “They gave us the design, they gave us the computer model, they gave us all of the drawings,” said Small.
Aker had an ambitious goal: three ships a year. That meant abandoning older ways. Logistics management was key – space was tight, and 400 to 500 containers were arriving from South Korea with components for every vessel.
The shortage of space meant subcontracting out work such as ductwork and ventilation, traditionally practiced in-house. The same went for painting, electrical installation and deckhouse construction. “We cut the steel for (the contractors) and drop it off,” said Small.
The shipyard’s work force numbers about 750; subcontractors, foreign and domestic, account for another 300 to 400 workers. An undercurrent of discontent about the use of foreign components surfaced in January, when the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO asked the Coast Guard to investigate the use of prefabricated parts from HMD. That didn’t stop the Philadelphia Metal Trades Council from announcing a new contract agreement in February.
Looked at from a vessel in the outfitting dock, material flows in an L shape around the shipyard, heading toward the building docks. Every inch is crammed. “There’s stuff sitting out there that’s for three or four ships from now,” said Small.
Along the way, the yard has discovered economies of scale. HMD was originally a repair yard, with limited crane capacity, so it builds in small blocks. But Aker follows the European philosophy: Make the blocks as big as possible and reduce the number of lifts, because the paint shop and the gantry crane are bottlenecks. “We can squeeze it down from 65 blocks to 45,” said Small.
Over the horizon
Aker’s agreement with OSG will keep the Philadelphia yard busy for years. Beyond the tankers, though, its agreement with HMD allows it to take advantage of any shift in the market toward containerships – the same advantage Nassco enjoys through an agreement with South Korea’s Daewoo Ship Engineering Co. “There will definitely be a demand for more Jones Act containerships,” said Small.
Meanwhile, the third carrier, Overseas Los Angeles, is scheduled for delivery by the end of the year. On Aug. 27, two days after the vessel was floated out of the graving dock for outfitting, steel was cut for the sixth ship, Overseas Boston, giving Aker four tankers in simultaneous production. “We’re always a quarter of a ship ahead,” said Small.