Shipbuilding News February 2010

Signal International winner in Bender auction

Signal International purchased the core assets of Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Inc., of Mobile, Ala., for $31.25 million. 

Set to be auctioned later is Bender's steel plate shop in Mobile and a shipyard in Mexico.

At the time of bankruptcy, Bender reported assets of $98.2 million and liabilities of $110.7 million. Currently there are about 200 employees at Bender’s six repair/construction yards.

In a move that may have shadowed the purchase, Signal International moved its headquarters from Pascagoula, Miss., to the RSA Battle House Tower in Mobile six months ago. Retirement Systems of Alabama, which purchased $100 million of Signal stock in January 2008, basically financed the purchase.


MarAd to provide $14.7 million in grants 

Small shipyards are in line for an additional grant program that will provide $14.7 million in funds. The program is similar in definition and regulations to other small shipyard grant programs for last year, but not in amount of awards, capped this year at $14.7 million.

The grant application deadline is Feb. 16. The awards will be made no later than April 15, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd).

At least 75 percent of the grants must go to shipyards with fewer than 600 employees and the remaining 25 percent may go to shipyards with 601 to 1,200 employees.

MarAd estimates that it will fund between 10 and 15 applications with an average grant of $1 million to $1.5 million.


Jensen Maritime designs ferry renovation

Jensen Maritime Consultants Inc., of Seattle, is providing architecture and engineering services for renovations of the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry M/V Kennicott.

The vessel is being renovated by Fairhaven Shipyard, of Bellingham, Wash. The project cost is $5.5 million with delivery scheduled for this month.

Key renovations include replacement of the marine evacuation system, including new inflatable slides and linking life rafts. The engine air start system will be improved with new high-pressure, high-capacity air compressors and receivers, as well as the marine-growth-prevention system. Plans for a fire sprinkler system have also been developed.


Todd to build Washington State ferries

Todd Shipyards Corp. has entered into a design contract to build up to four 144-auto ferries for Washington State Ferries. Todd will retain Guido Perla & Associates, of Seattle, as its design agent. Once the design is complete, price and delivery of the ferries will be negotiated.

The design will cost up to $8.3 million and the number of ferries to be built is dependent on funding provided by the legislature.


Bollinger to build sludge ships

As reported by American Ship Review Editor Peter Meredith in the 2009-10 edition, Bollinger Shipyards was the low bidder to construct three 290-foot sludge ships for City of New York Department of Environmental Protection. Low bid was $84 million, with deliveries in June 2012, October 2012 and February 2013. 

Each vessel will be able to carry 140,000 cubic feet of sludge from wastewater plants.


SkipperLiner building three new series of yachts

SkipperLiner, of La Crosse, Wis., is building a series of three triple-deck yachts. The aluminum vessels will be 75, 85 and 105 feet long.

The vessels will feature Caterpillar ACERT diesel engines, Wesmar bow thrusters, Caterpillar generators and Cruisair chilled-water-system air conditioners. They will sleep 14 persons.


Gulf Offshore Logistics to keep two shipyards busy

Gulf Offshore Logistics LLC (GOL) is having eight deepwater offshore vessels built by two major Louisiana shipyards. GOL has taken delivery of 13 vessels over the last three years. 

Gulf Craft LLC, of Patterson, La., will build will build four 220 by 36-foot DP2 fast supply boats powered by four Caterpillar engines rated at 3,000 hp each. The boats will be capable of speeds exceeding 30 knots.

Thoma-Sea Ship Builders, of Lockport, La., will build four 300-foot DPS 2 diesel-electric platform supply vessels that will be capable of holding 18,000 barrels of liquid mud and 13,000 cubic feet of dry bulk and will exceed 5,000 dead weight tons. First delivery is set for 2012. 

These vessels and other announced newbuilds have substantial liquid-mud and dry-bulk capacities. One reason for the emphasis on liquid mud is that some very deep gas wells are being drilled on old leases that were originally drilled to about 15,000 feet. These new wells may be 25,000 feet deep or more; and the deeper the well, the greater the use of liquid mud.

GOL will own and operate 21 vessels after the completion of this eight-vessel contract. GOL also operates an additional 23 OSVs serving the shelf market. 


Suits allege shipbuilder owes for unpaid wages and services 

A series of lawsuits by former employees, suppliers and a federal labor agency allege Direct Marine Services, of Houma, La., owes $450,000 in back pay and unpaid services.

The U.S Department of Labor said Direct Marine owes 46 employees $38,000 in back pay from operations in Houma and a shipyard in Fort Smith, Ark. This suit alleges the company violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Seven additional lawsuits filed by employees, architects and suppliers allege Direct Marine owes them $400,000.


Austal USA gets contract for JHSV 2 and 3

In November 2008, Austal USA was awarded a contract for the first 338-foot Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV). In late January, contracts for the second and third vessels were received. 

The JHSV is a high-speed catamaran vessel that can carry troops and their equipment at 35 knots. The vessels are similar to WestPac Express, a vessel built for and leased by the U.S. Marines for the past nine years. 

Austal USA has direct experience in building vessels of this type. The company built Alakai and Huakai, a pair of high-speed ferries for Hawaii Superferry that ran into local opposition and ceased operating.

A total of 10 JHSVs worth $1.6 billion may be built.


Eastern Shipbuilding to build six supply vessels

Harvey Gulf International Marine LLC, of New Orleans, is having Eastern Shipbuilding Group construct six 292-foot offshore support vessels.

To be called the Tiger Shark series, the first of the 5,650-dwt boats will be delivered in 19 months, with additional boats joining the Harvey Gulf fleet every five months.

The vessels will have enhanced capacities with 19,500 barrels of liquid mud, 14,350 cubic feet of dry bulk and 1,700 barrels of methanol. Each of the vessels feature 11,000 square feet of clear deck space.

The propulsion system is diesel electric, featuring Schottel z-drives and four Cummins QSK60M engines driving 1,825-kW generators.


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