Shipbuilding News, March 2016

Study: Regulations don’t harm US-flag fleet’s competitiveness

In a recent blog, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Thomas highlighted an independent study that said Coast Guard regulations “are not an impediment to the competitiveness of the U.S.-flag registry.”

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released its report titled “Impact of the United States Coast Guard Regulations on United States Flag Registry.” The Coast Guard commissioned the survey after Congress passed a mandate within the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014.

The committee that produced the report reviewed two reports by the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration (MarAd), and gathered information from stakeholders through a two-day meeting that included Coast Guard personnel, congressional staff, researchers who contributed to the MarAd report, shipowners and operators, and others who participated in the open discussions throughout the meeting.

“Based upon analysis of the two reports, information gathered at the meeting and its expert judgment, the committee finds that the increased costs related to USCG regulatory compliance are now relatively small compared to the increased operational costs associated with U.S. flag registry,” the TRB wrote in its announcement. “The committee therefore concludes that USCG regulatory compliance is not a major impediment to the competitiveness of vessels registered under the U.S. flag. The committee believes, however, that improvements in the regulatory process could reduce costs without increasing safety risk. The report identifies and recommends actions USCG can take in the short term with existing authority to bring about further improvements and other actions that would require enabling legislation.”

Thomas commented: “Similar to other recent studies, the TRB found costs associated with regulatory compliance are a fraction of a percent of those associated with other operating expenses.”

The TRB included recommendations aimed at harmonizing Coast Guard regulations with international standards and further reducing the cost of compliance without increasing safety risks. Additional recommendations address issues regarding classification societies, the Maritime Security Program and lessons learned from the El Faro disaster.

“We will continue to work with all stakeholders to optimize these processes,” Thomas wrote.

View the full report at

Canada hires UK rear admiral as adviser on shipbuilding program

Steve Brunton has been selected as expert adviser to assist on Canada’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS).

Brunton is a retired rear admiral from the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy with extensive experience in overseeing shipbuilding programs and naval acquisitions. He will provide federal ministers and senior government officials with independent expert advice on multiple facets of the NSPS, including risk and program management, construction benchmarking and competitiveness, and performance and operational improvements.

Through the NSPS, the Canadian government is supporting the renewal of the Canada Coast Guard fleet and is ensuring that the Royal Canadian Navy is able to operate as “a true-blue water maritime force,” Public Services and Procurement Canada said in a news release.

The hiring “underscores our government’s commitment to robust and effective procurement,” said Hunter Tootoo, Canada’s minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. “Through the NSPS, the Canadian Coast Guard will see its fleet renewed with maximum benefit to Canadians, supporting the important work of our Coast Guard.”

In January, Canada awarded a $6.2 million contract to Wärtsilä Canada under the Canadian Coast Guard vessel life extension program for the design and supply of two new propulsion control systems to upgrade Canadian Coast Guard ship (CCGS) Ann Harvey and CCGS Sir William Alexander.

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding wins contract for Tier 4 ATB

Fincantieri Marine Group has signed a contract for the construction of an articulated tug-barge unit (ATB) for delivery in late 2017. The contract includes an option for a second ATB unit to be potentially delivered in 2018. The vessels will be built at FMG’s Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding (FBS) in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

The new barge will have a capacity of 185,000 barrels with dimensions of 578 feet by 78 feet. The tug will be an 8,000-hp unit equipped with new Tier 4 engines to meet the latest EPA emission standards. When complete, this new ATB will operate on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity,” said Francesco Valente, FMG president and chief executive. “This new contract marks an additional expansion of our product portfolio, confirms our ability to win business with new customers in a very competitive market and further consolidates our presence and reach in the U.S. market.”

“This award increases our pipeline of new construction to 10 vessels and provides additional stability to our business,” said FBS Vice President and General Manager Todd Thayse. “We are grateful for the confidence that our customers continue to place in our reputation for quality and the strong shipbuilding skills of our work force.”

Austal receives $14.6 million for LCS modifications

Austal Ltd. has been awarded $14.6 million in modifications to a previously awarded littoral combat ship (LCS) contract by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Under the contract, Austal USA will perform planning and implementation of deferred design changes that have been identified during the construction period. The corrections and upgrades are necessary to support sail-away and follow-on post-delivery test and trials period.

The cost-plus contract modifications exercise options for post-delivery support of littoral combat ships USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) and USS Omaha (LCS 12). Work will be performed at Austal’s shipyard in Mobile, Ala. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Austal has a $3.5 billion block-buy contract from the U.S. Navy to build 10 littoral combat ships and a separate $1.6 billion block-buy contract from the U.S. Navy to build 10 expeditionary fast transport vessels (EPF). Seven LCSs and three EPFs are currently under construction at the Mobile facility.

VT Halter Marine delivers survey vessel Maury to US Navy

The Navy accepted USNS Maury (T-AGS 66) from builder VT Halter Marine on Feb. 16.

Maury was designed to perform acoustic, biological, physical and geophysical surveys. The vessel will provide the U.S. military with essential information on the ocean environment.

"The Navy's acceptance of T-AGS 66 is the culmination of a dedicated team effort between the Navy and VT Halter," said Mike Kosar, program manager for the support ships, boats and craft in the Navy's Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. "I look forward to learning of the new and innovative contributions to science and ocean exploration that USNS Maury and her crew will undoubtedly make over the next 30 years."

T-AGS 66 is named in honor of Cmdr. Matthew Fontaine Maury, known as the "Father of Modern Oceanography" and nicknamed "Pathfinder of the Seas." He dedicated his life to the study of naval meteorology and oceanography, and made copious contributions to the charting of wind and ocean currents. Maury will continue to contribute to his curiosity and thirst for ocean discovery and understanding.

The vessel is 353 feet in length with an overall beam of 58 feet. Maury is 24 feet longer than the previous T-AGS design to accommodate a moon pool for deployment and retrieval of autonomous underwater vehicles.

Maury will be operated by the Military Sealift Command (MSC). As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all major surface combatants, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft.

BAE delivers PSV Squall to Jackson Offshore Operators

BAE Systems recently delivered its fourth platform support vessel (PSV) to Jackson Offshore Operators LLC, successfully completing a four-ship program that began in 2012. The motor vessel Squall joins three other vessels built by BAE Systems’ Jacksonville, Fla., shipyard to support U.S. offshore oil exploration.  

“The Squall is a well-built ship and is ready to perform the demanding duties required to support offshore drilling operations and crews,” said David Thomas, general manager of BAE Systems Jacksonville Ship Repair. “The outstanding partnership between Jackson Offshore Operators and our highly skilled work force has resulted in four superb workboats that we are very proud of.”

Squall is the fourth vessel of the GPA 675J class, designed by Guido Perla & Associates of Seattle. Construction of the 252-foot-long ship began in December 2014 and it was delivered on Jan. 31. The other ships of the class are Breeze, Thunder and Lightning, which were delivered in 2014 and 2015. All four ships are qualified to operate under the Jones Act. As a PSV, Squall is designed to support close-in oil exploration platforms by shuttling supplies, equipment, limited amounts of product, and crewmembers to and from shore.

“The Squall and her sister ships are outstanding additions to the Jackson fleet,” said Lee Jackson, president and chief executive of Jackson Offshore Operators. “I appreciate the efforts of the talented BAE Systems shipbuilders over the last four years to deliver these four highly capable ships. We look forward to long, productive service from these ships.”

Rosler installing new preservation line at NASSCO

A groundbreaking ceremony recently took place in San Diego to announce the start of construction for a Rosler preservation line being built for General Dynamics NASSCO.

NASSCO specializes in the design and construction of ships for the U.S. Navy, in addition to oil tankers and dry cargo carriers for commercial markets. The company has been designing and building ships in San Diego’s industrial corridor since 1960 and is the only full-service shipyard on the U.S. West Coast.

Rosler said its preservation line will be vital to the shipbuilding process and will be used to blast-clean and coat the surface of steel sheets and structural shapes prior to cutting and welding. The preservation line will replace NASSCO’s original line, which was installed more than 40 years ago. Rosler’s preservation line will operate about 30 percent faster, improve blast and paint quality, handle larger plates and eliminate nearly all sources of emissions, creating a more efficient and environmentally friendly surface finishing process.

The line is on schedule to be up and running by July. 

By Professional Mariner Staff