Shipbuilding News August 2010

Avondale nearing shutdown mode
Avondale Shipyard, the New Orleans subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, is nearing shutdown. Northrop Grumman said the yard would be closed by 2013 after the last two LPD amphibious dock ships are finished. Employment now is about 5,000 and will gradually diminish. Recently 205 employees received their 60-day notices that they will be let go.

Northrop Grumman has also announced that all future shipbuilding will be consolidated at its Ingalls yard in Pascagoula, Miss. It may be that Avondale will not complete both of the two ships remaining in its backlog. They may be towed to Ingalls for completion.

Bollinger builds tugs for Crowley
Bollinger Shipyards, of Lockport, La., has contracts from Crowley Maritime to build four Ocean-class tugs. This contract may be expanded to 35 vessels, as that was the number of Ocean-class tugs built by this same Morgan City, La., yard when McDermott Shipbuilding owned it.

Shipyards will benefit with the shortening of the oil spill moratorium
It looks very much as though the moratorium on drilling deepwater wells will be shortened from its scheduled Nov. 30 date. This is great news for the Gulf Coast shipyards. Companies reluctant to place orders for crew/supply, supply and lift boats will again be looking for new vessels. In addition, now that the BP deepwater well in the Gulf has been brought under control and the moratorium is about to end, no vessel cancellations are on the horizon.

Otto Candies takes delivery of new IMR
Dakota Creek Industries, of Anacortes, Wash., built the last three inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) vessels that joined the Otto Candies LLC fleet. Now Candies Shipbuilding has delivered Kelly Ann Candies to the fleet. That makes five IMRs delivered and one under construction at Dakota Creek.

Where have all the crew boats gone?
Last year 21 crew/supply boats were delivered, but as of August, only five have joined the fleets. So what’s up? Is it the recession, the BP oil spill or what?

Not the spill, that’s for sure, since the number of vessels to be built in 2010 was really determined in 2009. Two factors have made this a “down” year for crew/supply construction. First the market is simply over built for this vessel type. Newer vessels are typically longer, wider and carry 50 percent more liquid and dry cargo than boats of just five years ago. So now it takes only two boats to do what in the past took three.

Another factor that dovetails into the first is that it takes a lot longer to build these new 190-foot, DP-2, five-engine vessels with sophisticated alarm and monitoring systems. A shipyard can only build two to three a year while in the past four to six could be built.

Still two of the three Loreauville, La., crew boat yards could definitely handle more business and are basically idle.

Kvichak builds for today’s market
Kvichak Marine Industries, of Seattle, is an opportunistic shipyard that builds what is needed today. For example, the yard is making a series of 50 30-foot oil response boats that are equipped with an oil skimming device manufactured by a sister company, Marco Pollution Control. The product is a Filterbelt oil recovery system that is effective in skimming oil from water.

Power for the vessel comes from a pair of 70-hp outboards. The vessels are trailerable and can travel at 17 knots. Kvichak also delivered a 44-by-17-foot response boat to the Harbor Unit of the New York City Police Department. This is a customized version of a vessel built for the U.S. Coast Guard. It will be used for search and rescue missions, counter terrorism and various other law enforcement activities.

Halter Marine delivers one ship, has another taken away
No one ever said building military vessels was easy and no builder knows this better than VT Halter Marine, of Pascagoula, Miss. In late June the yard christened the Navy’s USNS Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM-25), a missile range instrumentation ship. The 534-by-89-foot vessel is a platform for monitoring missile launches and collecting data to improve missile range and accuracy.

Two weeks later, another government agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told Halter that it was canceling the contract for Ferdinand R. Hassler, a SWATH coastal mapping vessel. The vessel was nearly complete and had completed sea trials. NOAA was unhappy about possible draft issues. Halter is trying to work things out and NOAA wants to complete work on the vessel at another shipyard. Stay tuned on this one.

Unique four-shipyard combo builds Washington ferries
There has not been a new ferry added to the Washington State Ferry System since 1999. In late August, Chetzemoka, a 64-vehicle, 750-passenger ferry will start on the Port Townsend-Keystone route. A sister ship will be added in 2011.

These ferries are being constructed in four separate shipyards. Todd Pacific is building the hull in steel, Nichols Brothers Boat Builders is building the pilothouses (two for each vessel, because this is a double-ended ferry) and passenger compartment in aluminum, Jesse Engineering is building the steering gear, and Everett Shipyard is handling final outfitting, dock trials and sea trials.

Master Boat Builders continues Abdon Callais fleet building
Master Boat Builders, of Coden, Ala. is continuing to build all of the vessels in the Abdon Callais Offshore (ACO) fleet, more than 45 to date. So far in 2010, the yard has added four vessels to ACO’s fleet, a pair of DP-2 220-foot vessels, a 205-foot DP-2 OSV and a 178 DP-1 boat.

The 220-by-48-foot Nicholas P. Callais is DP-2 rated and has a pair of Caterpillar 3512B-HD engines working through Twin Disc gears and nibral propellers. There are a pair of Omega 450-hp bow thrusters and an Omega 450-hp stern thruster. Electric power comes from a pair of 910-kW generators driven by Caterpillar engines. The vessel carries dry bulk, fuel oil and liquid mud as transferable fluids.

About the Author: 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