Shipbuilding News December 2011

General Dynamics Nassco christens USNS Medgar Evers

General Dynamics Nassco christened the U.S. Navy’s newest supply ship, USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13) on Nov. 11. Named in honor of the African-American civil rights leader from Mississippi, Medgar Evers is the 13th ship of a class of 14 dry cargo/ammunition ships designed and built by Nassco.

More than 1,000 people attended the Saturday morning christening ceremony at Nassco’s San Diego shipyard. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus was the ceremony’s principal speaker. Myrlie Evers, the widow of the late Medgar Evers, served as the ship’s sponsor. She christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against the hull of the 689-foot vessel.

As the first field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi, Evers created and organized voter-registration effort, peaceful demonstrations and economic boycotts to draw attention to the unjust practices of companies that practiced discrimination. Evers became one of the most visible civil rights leaders in the state of Mississippi, working closely with church leaders and other civil rights advocates to promote understanding and equality. He was shot dead by a gunman in the driveway of his home in June 1963. His life’s work and outrage over his death helped increase support for the legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Each ship in the T-AKE class is named for a noted pioneer in our nation’s history. Mr. Evers was an Army veteran of World War II and an important civil rights pioneer. The Nassco team is proud to add Medgar Evers’ name to this distinguished list,” said Fred Harris, president of Nassco.

USNS Medgar Evers is the 13th ship of the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) class of dry cargo ammunition ships General Dynamics Nassco is building for the U.S. Navy. Nassco began constructing the ship in April 2010. Following its at-sea testing phase, the ship will be delivered to the Navy in the second quarter of 2012. 

Nassco has reduced the labor hours required to build Medgar Evers by 67 percent, compared with the first ship of the class. This dramatic reduction in cost has been gleaned from Nassco’s culture of continuous improvement over the course of this stable, long-term shipbuilding program. Nassco has accomplished this efficient serial production by conducting more than 1.5 million hours of trades training since 2006, equipping each tradesperson with the knowledge and tools required to build T-AKE ships to unparalleled quality standards.

When in active service, Medgar Evers will join a tradition of Nassco —built or modified ships directly supporting the U.S. Marine Corps. The primary mission of Medgar Evers will be to deliver more than 10,000 tons of food, ammunition, fuel and other provisions at one time to combat ships on the move at sea. T-AKE ships have also served in Navy humanitarian efforts around the globe.


Boksa & KonaCat develop 85-foot fast cat

Boksa Marine Design Inc. of Lithia, Fla., has teamed up with KonaCat, of Mobile, Ala., to develop the KonaCat 85-foot passenger catamaran. 

The new fast catamaran will be able to carry up to 200 passengers and five crewmembers. The vessel will be designed to cruise at speeds above 30 knots, with a top speed of 35 knots. The ferry will be constructed with fiber reinforced plastic under the KonaCat Fast Build Kit System. Expected custom design and build time is just six months. 

KonaCat is a builder of custom composite catamarans. Their fast build system ensures timely turn around times on custom-designed catamarans. KonaCat does not use traditional catamaran building supplies, forgoing the use of wood and steel. This process provides private and commercial customers with vessels that are impervious to rot and corrosion. Composite construction also allows for greater cost savings during the final build phase. 


Cummins announces new QSK95 engine with over 4,000 hp

On Nov. 1, Cummins Inc. unveiled its new QSK95 engine with an output of over 4,000 hp (2,983 kW), describing it as the world’s most powerful high-speed diesel. 

The 95-liter, 16-cylinder QSK95 is the first engine to be introduced in a series of new high-horsepower diesel and gas engines from Cummins. The new product line will extend up to the 120-liter, 20-cylinder QSK120, capable of over 5,000 hp (3,728 kW).

Designed with exceptional strength and high power density, the 16-cylinder QSK95 exceeds the power output of other large 1,800-rpm high-speed engines with 20 cylinders. Compared with much larger medium-speed engines operating below 1,200 rpm, the QSK95 offers a far more compact and cost-effective solution to achieve the same power output. The QSK95 is ideally suited for high-hour, high-load applications in passenger and freight locomotives, many types of marine vessels and in large trucks used in mining operations. Operators can expect higher levels of equipment uptime and a longer life-to-overhaul with the QSK95.

For power generation applications, the QSK95 meets the need for highly dependable, fuel-efficient performance. For offshore oil and gas platforms, the QSK95 will be available as a ready-to-install drilling power module. The QSK95 will power the new C3000 Series genset from Cummins Power Generation, providing a class-leading 3.5-MW high-speed output.

For all applications, the QSK95 is ready to meet the most stringent emissions standards, including EPA Tier 4 Final, taking effect in 2015, using proven Selective Catalytic Reduction after treatment designed by Cummins to replace the exhaust muffler.

“Our new QSK95 represents a landmark in the evolution of the large high-speed diesel engine, designed with the power and durability to surpass all other high-speed engines while also challenging much larger and higher capital cost medium-speed engines,” said Mark Levett, Cummins vice president and general manager of the company’s High-Horsepower Business.

Cummins has committed major resources to the new QSK95 and the high-horsepower platform, with 150 engineers working on the project and over $100 million invested to establish a new production line and world-class test facilities at the company’s engine plant in Seymour, Ind.


Metal Shark Boats wins small response boat contract

Metal Shark Boats has been awarded a contract to replace the U.S. Coast Guard's fleet of Response Boat – Small (RB-S) vessels. Up to 470 boats will be delivered across the Coast Guard fleet. An additional 20 boats will be available to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, with 10 slated for the U.S. Navy. The $192 million contract is one of the largest boat buys of its kind for the Coast Guard, and provides a significant economic boost to the state of Louisiana. 

Metal Shark plans to expand its 65,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Jeanerette, while increasing its production team from 80 to 120 employees over the next six months.

Based on Metal Shark’s Defiant platform, the 28-foot RB-S is powered by twin 225-hp Honda outboards for speeds exceeding 40 knots with a minimum range of 150 nautical miles. RB-S meets all Port Security Grant requirements and is ideally suited for port and waterway enforcement, search and rescue operations, drug and coastal interdiction, environmental and other law enforcement missions.

The boat is road transportable for service between missions, and may also be transported via C130 aircraft using a specialized trailer. RB-S also includes a full complement of communications and navigation gear, as well as shock-mitigating seats for enhanced crew comfort. The crew is further protected from weather and attack by a fully enclosed cabin enhanced with ballistic materials. The vessel's side and rear windows drop down to improve crew communication and ventilation. RB-S is also weapons-ready, with multiple weapon racks and an integrated weapons-ready mounting system at the bow. The forward-mounted gunner's platform provides 180° firing capability while a pass-through hatch leads to the cabin for easy access in any conditions. 


ABS chief executive warns on class move into ship design 

ABS President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher J. Wiernicki has warned that a move into ship design by some class societies creates a fundamental conflict of interest with their role as independent providers of safety approval and certification. 

Wiernicki used his keynote address at the Houston Mare Forum USA conference to question the rationale of some class societies in promoting energy-optimized designs created in-house, a development he described as “deeply troubling.” 

Wiernicki said the issue went to the heart of the underlying principle for classification. Yet he was surprised, he said, to have heard no other voices questioning the growing intrusion of class into an area of ethical quicksand. 

“The bottom line is that, since the objectives of the designer and the class society are so fundamentally different, having class societies promote themselves as designers is dangerous,” said Wiernicki. “It undermines the basic fabric of the industry, it destroys the credibility of class as an independent third party, it has the potential to lead to poor designs that could impact the credibility of the whole industry and it upsets the essential checks and balances between commercial pressures and effective safety and environmental risk management.

“When classification societies begin developing and promoting their own designs, the essential independence of class is compromised. If ABS were to promote an in-house design for an energy-efficient tanker, how could we retain our integrity if we were then to approve that same design for construction?” 

With the International Maritime Organization’s Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) adopted for new vessel construction earlier this year, he acknowledged that the industry is moving into a period of innovative thinking with respect to basic ship design. 

But this change should not have the unintended consequence of allowing class societies to become ship designers in an attempt to increase their market share. Classification’s independent reputation with underwriters, bankers, flag and port states would be fatally compromised if it designed the ships it also classes, he said. 

By Professional Mariner Staff