Shipbuilding News January 2010

Austal delivers first Littoral Combat Ship

Austal USA delivered the Littoral Combat Ship Independence (LCS 2) to the Navy in mid-December 2009. The ship is to be officially commissioned Jan. 16.

During December, the keel was laid on Coronado (LCS 4). Fabrication work has begun on 12 of the 28 modules that frame the 404-foot trimaran.

Austal USA, which is based in Mobile, Ala., has also begun construction on the first of potentially 10 Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV 1). Fortitude will be a high-speed (43 knots) platform for the rapid deployment of personnel, equipment and supplies.

These vessels will be built using the processes developed in the recently completed Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF). 

The design of Fortitude and its future sister ships was developed over the past few years. The parent company Austal of New Zealand designed and built the first high-speed catamaran of this type, WestPac Express, in 2001 as a charter for the U.S. Marines. The Marines still have it. The 331-foot vessel can reach 36 knots and carry 970 passengers (troops) and 152 Hummers.

Power comes from four Caterpillar 3618 diesels, two in each hull, rated at over 28,000 hp.


Bollinger begins construction on Sentinel-Class patrol boats

Bollinger Shipyards, which has built two classes of U.S. Coast Guard coastal patrol boats — the 49 110-foot Island Class vessels and the 75 87-foot Marine Protector Class boats — will construct the latest class. The new Sentinel Class consists of 154-foot vessels each with a stern-launched rigid inflatable boat that can travel at 40 knots. The vessel will have a crew of 22 and a mission endurance of seven days.

Bollinger was awarded the initial design and construction of the lead ship in September 2008. 

The latest contract is $142 million for three vessels. Contract options call for building 34 vessels at a cost of over $1.6 billion. It is a good bet that many more than 34 will be built. Bollinger’s original 1999 contract for the Marine Protector Class was six vessels and then expanded to 50. A total of 75 were eventually built for the Coast Guard (and two for Malta), the last to be delivered (Sea Fox) in 2010, so it is likely that more than 34 of the Sentinel Class will be built.


Port Erie shipyard finds an angel

Donjon Marine Co., Inc., Hillside, N.J has purchased the 44-acre Port Erie shipyard. The shipyard is the largest of its kind on Lake Erie and will be involved in shipbuilding and repair. The shipyard has a dry dock with 120 feet between wing walls, 4,000 feet of pier space and over 200,000 square feet of covered production area.


VT Halter’s parent company bids to buy Bender Shipbuilding & Repair

Two of the fiercest competitors in the Gulf Coast shipbuilding market may be melded into one company. Bender Shipbuilding, of Mobile, Ala., has been seeking a way out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy for most of 2009, forced into this condition by customers who did not have their boats delivered in a timely manner and were trying to force the liquidation of the company’s assets. 

Vision Technologies, the parent company of Mississippi-based VT Halter Marine, has bid $21 million for certain Bender assets and the assumption of the liabilities. Bender’s Mexican shipyard and a metal plate shop are not included in the bid.

Bids are due Jan. 18, so it is possible that Vision Technologies may be in a bidding war for Bender’s assets. There are two additional companies rumored to be interested in Bender’s assets. 


Main Iron Works delivers tug to Bisso Towboat, gets order for a second 

Bisso Towboat Co., of New Orleans, has taken delivery of a 100-foot, 4,000-hp tug from Main Iron Works, of Houma, La., and the shipyard received an order for a sister ship.

Michael S. joined the Bisso Towboat fleet of a dozen tugs in September 2009 and the sister ship is to be delivered in mid-2011.

Two Caterpillar 3516B engines power the z-drives, giving the tugs a bollard pull of 60 tons.


2008 and 2009 on a par

Despite the thousands of words written in the marine trade press about the gloom and doom of the 2009 shipbuilding year, raw numbers show that 2008 and 2009 boat construction will be about the same in most categories. 

According to Tim Colton’s Maritime Memos, in major workboat categories such as offshore supply boats 2009 was better than 2008. In 2009, 47 such vessels were delivered, versus 41 in 2008. Crew/supply boats in 2009 were one better than 2008 at 21. One more lift boat was built in 2009 versus 2008, at six. The one category that did show some drop-off was tugs and towboats with 151 built in 2008 and 138 in 2009. 

The industry may not be able to keep this same pace of deliveries in 2010, but those shipyards that offer both new construction and repair services will see the repair segment make up for much of the shortfall in new deliveries. 


VT Halter Marine to build oceanographic ship for U.S. Navy

VT Halter Marine will build a T-AGS ship for the U.S. Navy under an $87 million contract. The 337-foot vessel will be built at the Halter Moss Point Shipyard beginning in the first half of this year with delivery in 2013.

This vessel is an enhanced version of the T-AGS 60 Class vessel. It will eliminate conventional gears and long shafts to allow for more oceanographic equipment. Thrusters will be used for precise vessel control. In addition to enhanced equipment and systems onboard, the T-AGS will feature an 18-by-18-foot moonpool for through-the-hull launching of equipment packages. The vessel will have accommodations for 67 persons. 

Missions for T-AGS ships include oceanographic sampling and data collection from the surface, midwater and ocean floor; the launching, recovery and towing of scientific packages and the handling and monitoring of remotely operated vehicles.


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