Island Boats of Jeanerette, La., has shut its doors, at least temporarily, laying off 40 workers. President Miles Thomas is trying to work out a contract with Southern States Offshore, which had a 168-foot crew/supply boat under construction. Thomas did not say if the closure is permanent.Â
For several years Island Boats built small aluminum ferries, mostly for East Coast and Caribbean operations, but got into the large crew boat business about three years ago with projects for Bourbon Offshore, GulfMark Offshore and Southern States.
The Jeanerette (New Iberia) area is full of shipyards mostly building in aluminum, including a half-dozen other crew/supply boat builders. These builders have healthy backlogs, but there is no doubt that orders for OSV's are not coming in with the frequency of 2006 to 2008.
The only way to live
International Yacht Collection of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Trinityâ€™s broker, will offer a pair of newbuilds from Trinity Yachts of Gulfport, Miss., for charter or sale.Â
The 161-foot all aluminum semi-displacement Blind Date II will be delivered this summer and is priced at almost $35 million. Propulsion is from a pair of Caterpillar 3512B diesels rated at 2,250 hp. The vessel will be capable of cruising at 17.5 knots and have a top speed of 19 knots.
Just delivered from Trinity was the 141-foot Big City that sleeps 10 guests in five staterooms. It is powered by twin Caterpillar C32 diesels developing 1,800 hp each.Â
The vessel is available for cruising this summer in the Mediterranean based in Antibes for $229,930 a week and $175,000/week this winter for cruising the Caribbean based in St. Maarten.
Another shipyard bites the dust
Superior Boat Works, based in Greenville, Miss., has closed its doors. President Brent Collins cited the economy as the reason for closure.
Most recently Superior did repair work, after building new vessels for decades. Superiorâ€™s location on the Mississippi River 442 miles above New Orleans made it well positioned to handle some of the repair work being generated by hundreds of new towboats built in the last few years.
D.E.S. Boatworks of Bayou La Batre, Ala., has just delivered its second boat. It is a startup operation headed by Daryl Steiner, nephew of the legendary Russell Steiner whose shipyard is also in Bayou La Batre.Â
Golding Barge Line of Vicksburg, Miss., received the pushboat, its eighth. Lamar Golding was christened on April 11.
D.E.S. is building a sister ship that Golding will put into service in September.Â
$17 million more for small shipyards
The $100 million grant program for small shipyards will have $17 million added courtesy of the defense appropriation bill that was the source of the $10 million dispersed last year. MarAd will administer this extra grant money as well.Â
Conrad delivers ferries in steel and aluminum
Only a multiyard shipbuilder could pull this one off. Next month Conrad Industries, Morgan City, La., and its subsidiary Conrad Aluminum, just down U.S. 90 in Amelia, La., will deliver both a 350-passenger aluminum passenger ferry and a steel auto/passenger ferry.Â
The aluminum passenger ferry is for the Puerto Rico Maritime Authority and will be called Cayo Blanco.
The steel ferry is for the Texas Department of Transportation and will be named John W. Johnson. The 264-foot auto/passenger ferry will carry 50 cars and up to 200 passengers.Â
Superior Energy Services adds respect and influence
The Marine Services Division of Superior Energy Services in New Iberia, La., has taken delivery of two 265-foot class liftboats from Boconco Inc. in Bayou La Batre, Ala.
Superior Respect and Superior Influence are identical vessels that can work in 200 feet of water. They each have 78 berths and mount a crane capable of lifting 200 tons with the boom extended to 35 feet.Â
Whole lot of welding going on
One of the busiest shipyards in the country and one of the least known is C&C Boat Works located in Belle Chasse, La. â€œDiversity is our key,â€ said President Tony Cibilich.
That is an understatement considering their output in the first quarter of 2009. The company delivered nine 200-foot tank barges to Canal Barge Co. and a pair of 72-foot towboats to Turn Services.
Under construction are five 164-foot supply boats for Adriatic Marine of Raceland, La.Â
C&C also has a repair division with several dry docks used to launch new vessels and haul out existing boats to be repaired.Â
Repair is the key
When assessing the success of a shipyard, the emphasis is usually put on new construction. However, with all the new construction going on with towboats and offshore vessels in the past three years, many of these vessels will soon be entering the five-year regulatory inspection cycle plus repairs.
Many yards, such as Bollinger Shipyards, headquartered in Lockport, La., specialize in repair work. Three of their yards specialize in new construction, but more than twice that number are set up for repair work. Among those yards, one specializes in work on line-haul towboats, because of its location just off the Mississippi River.
Bollingerâ€™s commitment to the repair business is evidenced by the expansion of its fleet of dry docks. In the last few months its Gretna shipyard built and delivered a 9,000-ton dry dock to the companyâ€™s Texas City shipyard and a pair of 5,000-ton docks were shipped â€” one to its Port Fourchon shipyard and one to its Morgan City location.Â
â€œWe build our dry docks in our own new construction shipyards so we can control cost, quality and delivery date,â€ said Bollingerâ€™s vice president of sales and marketing, Robert Socha.
Small yards, big businessÂ
Small shipyards, ones that do not have public relations departments, are carrying out a lot of the new construction activity in the workboat industry. So news about these shipyards seldom appears in the maritime trade press.
Many of these yards build in aluminum, so their vessels are typically smaller and less technologically advanced than their big brothers the supply boat yards built by larger companies.Â
Midship Marine, of the New Orleans area, is a typical example. Right now the company is very busy with a pair of 170-foot crew/supply boats for Bourbon Offshore, two cruise ship tenders servicing the cruise ships that call on the Cayman Islands and a glass bottom boat and a sub tender for use in Hawaii. All of these vessels have 2009 delivery dates.
Thompson Road in Houma, La., is dominated by the giant Gulf Island Fabrication, a builder of oil platforms and rigs. However there is a small boat builder there as well, Mariner Shipyards. The yard builds tugs and platform supply vessels. The major project in the yard now is a 170-foot platform supply vessel for Gulf Fleet Management of Lafayette, La., due out this year.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.