Shipbuilding News December 2009

Environmental awards presented at WorkBoat Show 

Three companies received Environmental Initiative Awards at the International WorkBoat Show in New Orleans in December. The awards recognize companies that have built and operated their vessels or facilities in an environmentally responsible manner.

First place went to Alcatraz Cruises LLC whose vessel, Hornblower Hybrid, uses a combination of energy from solar, wind, grid electric and Tier 2 diesel generators to save 29,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year. 

Foss Maritime Co. was awarded second place for the world's first hybrid harbor tug. 

Third place went to McGinnis Inc., which made substantial investments in a blast and paint facility that reduced the area of impact to the river bottom by 99.5 percent.


One killed as crane collapses at bayou shipyard

A 400-ton crane at Elevating Boats, of Houma, La., crashed across the welding shop of the shipyard, killing Heath Perkins, 30, of Montegut, La., and seriously injured the crane operator, 60-year-old Larry Naquin. Perkins was pinned under the debris.

The accident happened when the top of the crane's 12-foot tall base ripped and detached, causing the crane's 200-foot boom to fall into the welding shop. The shipyard is closed until Occupational Safety and Health Administration workers complete their investigation. 


Chesapeake Shipbuilding adds 125 workers

Salisbury, Md.-based Chesapeake Shipbuilding is adding 125 employees on the heels of launching an expansion of its shipyard. The company has demolished an old building and built a new fabrication facility in its place.

The company also purchased three acres of adjacent land, but has not revealed its exact use. Initially it may be used to store modules as part of a ramped up production schedule.

The company has a tug building contract with Vane Brothers and just launched the third of six vessels. It is also building a pair of 100-passenger cruise vessels for American Cruise Lines (ACL), of Guilford, Conn. ACL owns Chesapeake Shipbuilding.

The first of the two cruise vessels begins its Atlantic Coast cruise itinerary in July 2010. 


Otto Candies LLC to take delivery of largest 2009 workboat

The shipbuilding combo of Dakota Creek Industries, of Anacortes, Wash., and Candies Shipbuilders, of Houma, La., are about to produce another huge oilfield construction ship. The 4,120-gross-ton, 309-by-66-foot Ross Candies recently completed sea trials in Puget Sound, Wash., and is expected to arrive in Houma by the first of the year for topside work such as installation of a 150-ton knuckle-boom crane. 

This project comes on the heels of the completion of Grant Candies, another construction ship, only slightly smaller than Ross.

To come in 2010, is another two-shipyard project. VT Halter Marine's Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard is building the hull and deckhouse of a 292-foot supply vessel for Otto Candies LLC. The partially completed vessel will be towed to Candies Shipbuilders for completion.


Quality continues to build PSVs

While sales and profits of Tidewater Inc. are down, the company continues to rebuild its fleet of offshore vessels. Subsidiary Quality Shipyards is continuing to build 265-foot platform supply vessels. At the present time three vessels are in various stages of completion at Quality's new-construction yard on Highway 182 outside of Houma. 


Fincantieri to invest $40 million in two shipyards

Earlier this year Fincantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A. purchased Marinette Marine Corp. of Marinette, Wis., and Bay Shipbuilding, of Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Now the company has announced $40 million of capital improvements in 2009 and 2010 that can grow to $100 million if the shipyards get more work. 

At the top of the wish list is a Navy contract to build 10 more combat ships over the next five years. The company has built two of these Littoral Combat Ships vessels in partnership with Lockheed Martin Corp.

If Marinette-Lockheed wins that contract, employment is expected to grow from 900 to 2,200 employees over three years. Bay Shipbuilding is a smaller company with 450 employees and relies heavily on the commercial market.


Austal USA expands fabrication area

Austal USA has opened a new $81 million module manufacturing facility at its present site on the Mobile River, across from downtown Mobile, Ala.

The new facilities include 740,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 85,000 square feet of drive-through warehouse area. A total of 1,200 people can work in this new building. 

This new facility will allow Austal USA to construct simultaneously up to six large aluminum vessels, such as the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and/or the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV). 

Austal USA is preparing for acceptance trials on the LCS 2 Independence for the Navy and has a contract to build up to 10 JHSVs for the Army and Navy.


Repair is in the air

It's not the new construction contracts that are keeping bayou shipyards busy; it's repair, repowering and reconstruction. These projects have resulted in significant business increases across shipyards of all sizes.

For example, earlier this year Bollinger Shipyards repowered the 1973-vintage towboat Phyllis, owned by Alter Barge Line. A pair of EMD 645 main engines rated at 2,100 hp each had powered the 128-by-42-foot vessel. In their place, Bollinger installed Tier 2 compliant EMD 12-710 engines rated at 3,000 hp each. Also replaced were the gears, kort nozzles, shaft brakes and other components, including a pair of new Cummins-powered 170-kW gensets.

Bollinger has 12 shipyards and 32 dry docks. The new construction division has built several dry docks in 2009 for their repair shipyards to ensure adequate future capacity for the repair side of the company.



Orange Shipbuilding building ferry

The Ferry Division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation has been building vehicle/passenger ferries in Gulf Coast shipyards for over 20 years. The latest is under construction at Orange Shipbuilding, of Orange, Texas. Orange Shipbuilding is a part of Conrad Industries with three shipyards in the Morgan City, La., area. 

The new $13 million ferry will hold 50 vehicles and 300 passengers and will be delivered in 2011.


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