Shipbuilding News June 2010


VT Halter fined $1.3 million in fatal tugboat explosion

Following an investigation, the U.S. Dept. of Labor has fined VT Halter Marine, of Pascagoula, Miss., $1.3 million in a tugboat explosion at one of the company's three shipyards. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis described the explosion as "a horrific and preventable situation."

Two Halter subcontractors were killed and two were injured as a crew was cleaning and prepping a tank for painting in November 2009.

"The employer was aware of the hazards and knowingly and willfully sent workers into a confined space with an explosive and toxic atmosphere," Solis added.

"The safety of our employees is our first priority and we deeply regret this tragic accident," said Halter President Bill Skinner. "Up until now, we've never had a fatal accident, and even this one is too much for us." 

The company was cited for 17 willful, 11 serious and eight "other-than-serious" violations. Halter has 15 business days from the issuance of the fine to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before OSHA's review commission.


Signal International to build power barges

Signal International Inc., of Mobile, Ala., has a $30 million contract to build a pair of 300-by-100-foot power barges for Waller Marine Inc., of Houston. Each barge will have a GE 7FA gas turbine powering a 171-MW generator. The barges are to be built at Signal's shipyard in Orange, Texas. Waller is expected to operate the barges in Venezuela. 

In other developments involving Signal, the company's purchase of the assets of Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co. Inc., did not include Bender's shipyard in Mexico nor the company's state-of-the art steel panel line.

Ryerson Corp. of Chicago, a leading metals distributor and processor, purchased the panel line for $3.6 million.

Signal did not need the line since it is mainly used for new construction and Signal bought the Bender yard for repair. Ryerson may use the line to supply other shipyards in the area with steel panels used for hulls and superstructures. Most of the shipyards in the area, including several in Bayou La Batre, Ala., do not have panel lines and buy their steel precut from distributors.


Geo delivers two survey ships to the Army Corps of Engineers

Geo Shipyard, a versatile shipyard in New Iberia, La., has delivered Elton and Redlinger, a pair of 60-foot Hysucraft (hydrofoil supported catamaran) vessels for use by the US. Army Corps of Engineers' Portland District. The boats will measure the depth of the Columbia River in the Astoria and Portland areas and relay this information to dredges that keep the waterways clear.

Powered by a pair MTU Series 60 825-hp engines driving Hamilton Jet 403 water jets and Twin Disc transmissions producing up to a top speed of 35 knots.

The vessels feature a moon pool aft of the superstructure that permits the lowering of a special purpose pod that mounts transducers for the survey work.


Todd Pacific Shipyards sends ferry to Everett Shipyard for completion 

The first of three new ferryboats has been sent from Todd Pacific Shipyards to Everett Shipyard for equipment outfitting and systems testing. Naval architect is Elliott Bay Design Group of Seattle. The new vessel is based on the design of an earlier vessel, Island Home, modified to meet special needs and docking arrangements of the Washington State Ferry system.

The new vessel, Chetzemoka, is 274 feet long with a 65-foot beam. It is scheduled to begin service in August with the second vessel ready for summer 2011.

Each of the three vessels can hold 64 cars and 750 passengers and will replace the fleet of four Steel Electric ferries that were retired after 80 years of service. 


Atlantic Marine sells shipyards to BAE Systems

The private equity firm of JFL-AMH Partners that owned the Atlantic Marine shipyards in Mississippi, Florida and Alabama has sold them to BAE Systems, a giant British defense firm for $352 million in cash. Atlantic Marine operations in Boston and Philadelphia were not included in the sale.


Queen of the West to sail again

Delivered in 1996 by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Queen of the West had several years cruising the Columbia and Snake rivers with up to 150 passengers on seven-day cruises. Then came an engine room fire in April 2008 that sent the vessel into a shipyard for repairs. The vessel resumed cruising in June 2008, completed her season in November 2008 and went into layup when the company that owned six such vessels filed for bankruptcy.

Queen of the West now has a bright future ahead. Purchased in late 2009 by American Cruise Lines, (ACL) of Guilford, Conn., the vessel is being refurbished and will return to the Snake and Columbia rivers for seven-day cruises this August.

"Passenger capacity will be lowered from 150 to 120 and will include more private balconies and renovations to increase the number of suites," said Paul Taiclet, vice president of operations for ACL.


Bollinger to add ROVs to Ross Candies

The new 309-foot Ross Candies, an inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) vessel, is having Bollinger Shipyards, in Port Fourchon, La., add a pair of ROVs to the vessel. Dakota Creek Industries, of Anacortes, Wash., built Ross Candies for Otto Candies LLC, of Des Allemands, La. The vessel had additional topside work done in Galveston, Texas.


Foss Maritime and Cruz Marine build harsh-weather tug

A pair of shipyards has partnered to design a tug for above the Arctic Circle environments. Foss Maritime and Cruz Marine developed the King River class of tugs. The builder was Wahl Marine Construction of Reedsport, Ore.

"The Dana Cruz is a tug specifically designed for remote, extreme environments encountered on the north slope of Alaska, the Canadian Arctic and the Russian Far East," said Gary Faber, president and COO of Foss Maritime. "That's why we reached to Cruz Marine because of their experience in harsh weather environments." 

The vessel is 92 feet long and 36 feet wide and powered by three Caterpillar Tier 2 engines. Dana Cruz will be heading north to support the summer ice-free construction season in western Alaska and the Northern Slope. 

According to Paul Gallagher, director of oil field services for Foss, "Dana Cruz left for our shipyard in Rainier, Ore., last Friday for final outfitting and will depart for Alaska June 16."


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