Shipbuilding News January 2011

Another casino boat to become passenger vessel

In the early and mid 1990s, existing excursion boats were hot vessels for quick conversion to casino boats. Now that market has come full circle as several casino boats are being converted back to excursion boats. 

For example Mississippi Belle II, a four-deck 260-by-64-foot casino vessel is now the four-deck 1,000-passenger vessel Philadelphia Belle.

Built by Houma Fabricators, of Houma, La., in 1993, the vessel served as a gaming boat in Iowa as a part of the Bob Kehl fleet of casino boats.

About $2 million was spent on renovations in both New Orleans and Charleston, S.C., with topside finish work in Philadelphia.


Derecktor Shipyards to convert vessel to hydrogen power 

The 168-foot New York Hornblower Hybrid built in 1997 as a hybrid power vessel for Hornblower Cruises & Events is being retrofitted by Derecktor with a new hydrogen power system.

Power for the vessel will come from a pair of Tier 2 diesel engines, proton exchange membrane hydrogen fuel cells, absorbed glass mat batteries and wind turbines. Naval architects DeJong and Lebet worked closely with the Coast Guard on developing safety rules for the use of hydrogen fuel cells.

The vessel will be used on cruises to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. 


Ferry to crew/supply boat 

With their long, open and wide rear decks, it is typically crew/supply boats that are converted to another use. In this case, a 350-passenger ferry owned by Boston Harbor Cruises is being converted to an offshore service vessel serving an LNG terminal 14 miles east of Boston Harbor. 

Originally built as a ferry by Steiner Shipyard in 1990 as Matthew J. Hughes, the vessel transported passengers between Hingham and Boston. 

Now the 114-foot, all-aluminum vessel will work serving the passenger and cargo needs of the LNG terminal.

Ross Marine, of Gloucester, Mass., handled the below-deck work, including converting fuel tanks from 3,000 to 5,000 gallons.

Power is via four Caterpillar 3408 engines driving ZF transmissions leading to maximum speed of 22 knots with an 18-knot operating speed.


New owner for SkipperLiner

Jeb Griffith, a 72-year-old local businessman, is the new owner of SkipperLiner Industries. The company closed May 2010 and Griffith’s purchase was effective in September. “We will try to have 20 employees sometime next year. The company had 40 employees when it closed,” Griffith said.

Griffith owned four SkipperLiner vessels over the past 15 years. 


Another product carrier delivery

General Dynamics-Nassco has delivered its 5th 600-foot product carrier to American Petroleum Tankers LLC. The vessel is named Evergreen State in honor of the state of Washington.

Capacity of the tanker is 331,000 barrels of chemical and petroleum products. There are no more product carriers in the General Dynamics backlog and only four Navy support ships (T-AKE).

This situation is similar to that of Aker Philadelphia. That yard has two more product carriers to build, but no backlog beyond that. 


Florida Marine Transporters tugs commissioned 

Four towboats were commissioned by Florida Marine Transporters, of Mandeville, La. Two of the boats were built by Horizon Shipbuilding of Bayou La Batre, Ala., and two by John Bludworth Shipyard LLC, of Corpus Christie, Texas.


Todd to be acquired by Vigor Industrial

More shipyard stock swaps and buyout deals are happening on the West Coast. Todd Shipyards, of Seattle, has been purchased by Vigor Industrial LLC, of Portland, Ore., for $22.37 in cash per share, or a total of $137 million. 

Todd’s management will remain intact and all contracts will remain in place. 

“The acquisition will allow for stable utilization of facilities while continuing to strengthen the combined companies industry presence and opportunities for growth,” said Frank Foti, president of Vigor. 

Todd has been a major builder of the Washington State Ferry System and has several such vessels under construction, although frequent contract disputes with the State has caused scheduling delays. 

For example, the recently delivered 64-car ferry Chetzemoka, was over a year late and would have been delivered later, but the Washington State Ferry System "borrowed" the engines to be used on other ferries to speed up completion. That has caused delay on other ferries.


More Littoral Combat Ships on the way

In 2007 the U.S. Navy wanted Austal USA or Lockheed Martin to build 10 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). Each shipyard was to build one vessel and the "winner" of the competition would get a contract for nine additional vessels.

Somewhere the U.S. Navy found the money and contracted each builder to construct 10 vessels. Lockheed Martin’s vessels will cost $4.1 billion in total and vessels built by Austal USA will be priced at $3.8 billion.

The first of the LCSs was built by Lockheed and called USS Freedom (LCS-1); the prime contractor was Marinette Marine, Marinette, Wis.

Austal has built USS Independence (LCS-2), a trimaran operating with the fleet in Norfolk, Va.


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