Shipbuilding News, October 2015

NOAA awards Willard Marine contract for three survey ships

Willard Marine of Anaheim, Calif., was awarded a contract to provide the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with three aluminum hydrographic survey launch ships (HSL).

The three 28-foot HSLs will be used on the coastal waters of the U.S. to conduct oceanographic surveys with hull-mounted and towed sonar units. A Cummins QSC8.3 engine capable of 510 hp with a ZF Marine 305-2 transmission will be used to power the boats. Outfitted to support traditional manned survey operations, the HSLs will offer additional flexibility to add unmanned autonomous capability. Two Willard Marine HSLs will be built for the 208-foot NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson, and an additional Willard Marine HSL will be built for the 231-foot NOAA ship Rainier.

The customized HSLs for NOAA are derived from a former SeaArk Marine commercial boat design that Willard Marine acquired the licensing rights to last year. The HSLs are scheduled to be delivered to NOAA in fall of 2016. 

Marathon buys Aker’s stake in Crowley tankers

Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) has agreed to buy Aker Philadelphia Shipyard’s stake in the Crowley Maritime Corp. joint venture for the operation and chartering of four 50,000-dwt product tankers, which are valued at $150 million per vessel. MPC will take delivery of the four vessels by 2016’s third quarter.

The tankers are still under construction at Aker and the company intends to complete construction. However, it has sold its ownership position to Marathon for an estimated $110 million.

Aker and Crowley signed a joint venture agreement in 2013, which was valued at about $600 million, to build four product tankers with options for additional vessels. In March, Aker and Crowley announced they had secured a $325 million loan underwritten by a consortium of banks and financial institutions to finance the construction of the vessels.

The tankers will be Jones Act-qualifying vessels that are built at Aker and managed by Crowley — including technical operation and commercial management of the ships.

Aker is also building four 50,000-dwt tankers for a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Inc. Those vessels will be delivered in late 2016 through 2017. The shipyard has also contracted with Matson Navigation for two 3,600-TEU containerships, which will be delivered in 2018.

In July, Aker announced it will change its name to Philly Shipyard, pending shareholder approval.

Coast Guard icebreaking tug returns from overhaul

Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay returned to its home port in Cleveland following a 14-month service life extension project (SLEP) at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, the U.S. Coast Guard announced.

SLEP is a major midlife overhaul, which is expected to extend the cutter's service life by 15 years.

Morro Bay is one of nine 140-foot icebreaking tugs built between the late 1970s and early 1980s in Tacoma, Wash. Having served on the Great Lakes, mid-Atlantic and New England waterways for more than three decades, the tugs were due for a midlife overhaul. Morro Bay is the first of the class to undergo SLEP.

Major SLEP work items included renewal of the crew's berthing and mess deck, comprehensive navigation and steering systems upgrades, main propulsion motor overhaul and installation of a new engine room water-mist firefighting system and a modern small-boat davit system. 

Additionally, the icebreaking bubbler system located on the fantail was decommissioned, and a new bubbler system was installed in the engine room. This large diesel engine and its compressor required plenty of space, so the ship's service diesel generators were moved to make room. The cutter was sandblasted and painted top to bottom, stem to stern. 

With the cutter in SLEP, Morro Bay's crew maintained icebreaking proficiency by crew-swapping with sister ship Neah Bay, also based in Cleveland, during the 2014-2015 icebreaking season.

Massive new barge for Seaspan

Seaspan Marine unveiled the newest addition to its marine fleet, a 16,000-metric-ton barge named Seaspan 252, during an official commissioning ceremony at Seaspan’s North Vancouver Barge Maintenance Terminal in British Columbia on Sept. 29.

The 374-by-90-foot bulk barge is the largest of its kind in Canada, and can carry the equivalent of 1,454 standard dump-truck loads of limestone.

The vessel was designed by Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver and constructed by Seabridge Marine Contractors Ltd. at Jiangsu Yanzijiang Shipbuilding Co. in China. Seaspan 252 was launched on July 31 and handed over to Seaspan in August.

An open-ocean, ABS-classed +A1 barge, Seaspan 252 is the company’s fourth new barge over the past 10 months, following the Seaspan 211 and 212 in June, and Solid 66 in late 2014.

These new four barges add a total of 44,000 metric tons of barging capacity and an almost 50 percent rise in volume to Seaspan’s fleet. The additional barges increase Seaspan’s ability to handle specialty and project cargo and prepare the company to meet the needs of both its current customers, as well as those in the LNG business.

Primarily intended for towing on a hawser, the barge is fitted with twin skegs aft for directional stability. As this type of skeg can represent 25 percent to 30 percent of the total resistance of the barge, computational fluid dynamics analysis was used by Robert Allan to optimize the skegs and reduce their resistance as much as possible, while still maintaining the necessary towed directional stability.

The barge is scheduled to enter service in October for Ash Grove, hauling lime rock from Texada Island to Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash.

Aker Philly cuts steel for Matson box ships

Aker Philadelphia Shipyard has cut the first steel for two new Aloha-class containerships, designed specifically for Hawaii service, with greater capacity than previous Matson ships and state-of-the-art "green ship technology" features.

In 2013, Matson subsidiary Matson Navigation Co. signed a contract with Aker Philadelphia Shipyard Inc. (APSI) to build the two new ships for a price of $418 million for the pair. The shipbuilder is expected to deliver the ships in the third and fourth quarters of 2018.

The 850-foot-long, 3,600-TEU vessels will be Matson's largest ships and the largest Jones Act containerships ever constructed. Despite their size, they are designed to accommodate future needs by being able to navigate safely into some of Hawaii's smaller ports.

They will also be faster, designed to operate at speeds in excess of 23 knots, helping ensure timely delivery of goods in Hawaii.

The new vessels will incorporate "green ship technology" features including a more fuel efficient hull design, dual fuel engines that can be adapted to use liquefied natural gas (LNG), environmentally safe double-hull fuel tanks and freshwater ballast systems.

By Professional Mariner Staff