With leading indicators down for inland waterway shipments, it is not surprising that shipyards that primarily build barges have been negatively affected.
The Brusly, La., (Baton Rouge) shipyard of Trinity Marine Products has announced the layoff of most all of its administrative personnel and workforce. The yard will not close, but it is not producing any barges at the present time. Â
Trinity makes freight barges at the Brusly operation and the last 201 went to Ingram Barge Co. in 2008. The company would not say if the layoffs were a prelude to closing the shipyard.Â
Conrad increases backlog
Conrad Industries, with shipyards in Amelia, La., (aluminum construction), Morgan City, La., and Orange, Texas, has announced first quarter sales and contracts of $24 million, giving the company a backlog of $44.4 million, up from the March 31, 2009 backlog of $34.1 million. The backlog as of Dec. 31, 2008, was $56.3 million.
New contracts were for a pair of 16,000-barrel barges and one 35,000-barrel barge and two deck barges.Â
Can all the President's men put the boat together again?
If you know excursion boats and riverboat casinos, then you know the five-deck President. The 300-by-89-foot riverboat built in 1924 served many years in St. Louis and New Orleans as an excursion boat and beginning in 1991 was one of the most successful riverboat casinos grossing over $500 million in her 10-year career.
She was recently purchased from then owner Isle of Capri Casinos for $1 by David Campbell, a printer from Effingham, Ill., cut up into sections and trucked 70 miles to St. Elmo, Ill., from Alton, Ill., where the new owner has promised to reassemble the grand riverboat in a lake and use it as a hotel/restaurant/convention center. The town donated $2 million in incentives, including land on the lake for the project. Campbell estimates the restoration will cost $9 million, about half of which he has raised.
If all goes according to plan, the vessel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, will continue to entertain people, even in a landlocked location.Â
Toledo Shipyard to receive $16 million in stimulus funds
According to the newspaper the Toledo Blade, the Toledo area will receive $35 million in stimulus funds, about one-half for a local shipyard.
About $15 million of the fund is designated for renovations, construction and equipment at the Toledo Shipyard.Â
The machinery includes a plate roll and plate press machines and a plasma-cutting machine, all allowing barge and wind turbine construction inside the shop.
The Port Authority of Toledo will also receive $6.8 million to buy a high-speed crane which will support container-cargo development.
The shipyard is owned by the port authority and operated by Ironhead Marine. Over 100 skilled-trade jobs would be created.
OK for now
While the backlogs for many shipyards that build offshore vessels are thinning out, present output is on a pace to equal that of 2008. To date, 25 offshore vessels have been delivered, while three new lift boats and 11 new crew/supply boats are in the fleets of vessel owners.Â
The shipyards involved are the usual suspects. Five supply/utility boats have been delivered this year from Master Boat Builders of Bayou La Batre, Ala. Bollinger Shipyards has delivered the first of eight 210-foot supply boats that are all being built in advance of sale.Â
Many of the supply boats built are huge, 280 to 290 feet long and up to 3,336 gross tons.
On the aluminum side, Gulf Craft of Patterson, La., has added the second 42-knot, 149-passenger, high-speed crew/supply boat to Seacor Marineâ€™s fleet. C&G Boat Works of Mobile, Ala., has delivered three vessels, two to GulfMark/Rigdon and one to Graham Gulf.Â
Breaux Brothers Enterprises has built two vessels for Edison Chouest Offshore, and Swiftships has modernized the Gulf Fleet Management fleet with two 180-foot DP-2 deliveries.
Much has been made of a drilling slowdown in shallow water, but Montco Offshore of Galliano, La., will add two lift vessels with 265-foot legs being built by Rodriguez Shipbuilding of Bayou La Batre, Ala. Semco of Lafitte, La. has a 280-footer that will deliver in the third quarter. Several new and renovated lift boats are being completed by Marine Industrial Fabricators of New Iberia, La.
By yearâ€™s end, the offshore vessel newbuild totals should equal that of 2008, but 2010 will probably be lower.Â
Tug/towboats continue to push forward
This time last year there had been 54 tug/towboats built. This year 63 such vessels have been built, including several inland waterway craft in the range of 6,000 to 9,000 hp. While commodity shipments are definitely down this year, fleet modernization continues.Â
Having your cake and sailing on it too
A huge megayacht is being built by Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Conn. At 281-feet, Cakewalk is only 19 feet shorter than a football field. Â
The vessel will hold 91,000 gallons of fuel and can travel 6,000 nm at 15 knots.Â
This is the fifth Cakewalk for the unidentified owner. Each vessel in the series has been a little larger than the one before it.
The vessel is scheduled for 2010 completion.
The second longest megayacht, also scheduled to be completed in 2010 is New Horizon, a 242-foot vessel being built by Trinity Yachts of Gulfport, Miss. Â
The pain continues for Bender
Now facing four lawsuits for poor delivery performance, Bender Shipbuilding and Repair finally got some good news. The company will be modernizing a pair of U.S. Maritime Administration vessels, Cape Victory and Cape Vincent, in a 70-day contract worth $2.5 million.Â
These vessels are 632-foot ro-ros that Bender has repaired before.
Bad news continues, however, as Louisiana Machinery LLC of Reserve, La., has filed a $1.8 million suit charging Bender with not returning a pair of MaK engines that have not been paid for or installed in a vessel.Â
C&G Boat Works sets up shop again in Bayou La Batre
With no fanfare or publicity, C&G Boat Works of Mobile, Ala., has returned to Bayou La Batre, Ala. Several years ago C&G was located in Bayou La Batre on a small piece of ground on the other side of the bayou from Steiner Shipyard. As its business and the length of its crew boats grew, the company simply did not have enough room to safely launch vessels, so C&G built a yard in Mobile.Â
Now the company has returned to a different section of Bayou La Batre and is building tugs and towboats there. C&G has multi-boat contracts from two customers.
U.S. Marine continues strong Mideast sales
A shipyard that gets very little publicity, but does a superb job building military patrol boats has launched two vessels and signed a contract for 10 additional vessels.
United States Marine Inc. of Gulfport, Miss., has launched a pair of 82-foot Special Operations Craft destined for the Bahrain Navy.Â
With shipyards in Gulfport, Miss., and New Orleans, United States Marine had the hull, deck and cabin top of these vessels built by sister company Trinity Yachts at its New Orleans shipyard.Â
The company has also announced that it will build 10 Mark V patrol boats for the Kuwait Navy with deliveries until 2013.
Top speed of these special ops craft is a secret, but speeds in excess of 45 knots have been reported on sea trials.
Â Both contracts are administered by the U.S. Navyâ€™s Naval Sea Systems Command under their foreign military sales program.Â
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.