Shipbuilding News September 2009

Christmas in August

Last month this column reported on three major grant programs by the U.S. government to encourage smaller shipyards to increase productivity and efficiency.  

The $60 million grant program to 19 states to build or rehabilitate ferries and their supporting land infrastructure seemed “right on the money.” So did the $17.1 million from the Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded to 14 shipyards in 10 states. Both these awards were made in early July.

On July 14, the big money awards were announced totaling $100 million. These awards went to 67 shipyards from the economic stimulus bill. No sooner than they were announced, they were canceled; the secretary of transportation calling the method used to determine the awards as “incomplete.”

A month and two days later the awards were reissued adding six shipyards to the total, canceling three awards and adjusting the amounts on two others.

These awards and those made with the $17.1 million grants were for the basic shipyard building blocks — welding equipment, press brakes, cranes, painting systems, dry docks and other such things. 

With one exception, shipyards on the earlier $17.1 million list of 14 shipyards were not on the stimulus bill list and vice versa. 

Leading the list of grantees was Lyon Shipyard, of Norfolk, Va., which received $4.5 million for dry dock enhancements. As noted, only one shipyard was able to receive money from both the DOT $17.1 million pot and also from the stimulus bill. That was Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, which received $1.9 million from the stimulus bill and $2.3 from the DOT grants, for a grand total of $4.2 million, making it second in total grant money received. Others which received at least $2 million were:


• General Marine Repair, Tampa, Fla., $4.1 million

• North Florida Shipyards, Jacksonville, Fla., $4.1 million

• Pacific Shipyard International, Honolulu, Hawaii, $3.9 million

• Leevac Industries LLC, Jennings, La.,  $3.7 million

• Blue Danube Corp., Georgetown & Dunlevy, Pa., $3.3 million

• Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Panama City, Fla., $2.9 million

• Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wis., $2.9 million

• Derecktor Shipyard Connecticut, Bridgeport, Conn., $2.9 million

• VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Escatawpa and Moss Point, Miss., $2.9 million

• Washburn & Doughty Inc., East Boothbay, Maine, $2.6 million

• Atlantic Marine, Jacksonville, Fla., Philadelphia and Boston, $2.6 million

• General Ship Building, Baltimore, Md., $2.4 million

• St. Johns Ship Building, Palatka, Fla., $2.3 million

• Master Boat Builders, Bayou La Batre, Ala., $2.3 million

• Jeffboat LLC, Jeffersonville, Ind., $2.3 million

• Gulf Copper Manufacturing Group, Galveston, Texas, $2.3 million

• Tampa Ship LLC, Tampa, Fla., $2.2 million

• BAE Systems, San Diego and San Francisco, Calif., $2.2 million

• International Ship Repair & Marine Services, Tampa, Fla., $2.2 million

• Colonna’s Shipyard, Norfolk, Va. $2.0 Million


There were some notable omissions from the list. For example, the crew/supply boatbuilders of Loreauville, La., and surrounding areas struck out completely. The boatbuilding center of Bayou La Batre, Ala., had only three of its more than a dozen shipyards receive awards and one of those that did receive awards got only $99,000, the lowest of any shipyard. 

Of all the states, Florida shipyards received the most money, a total of more than $17 million. The majority of the awards and four of the top five went to shipyards that are only engaged in repair work.  

One lingering question: Will Bay Shipbuilding still receive its $2.9 million grant after laying off 400 of its 700 workers? Also note that this program carries a 25 percent participation amount. Will Bay Shipbuilding be able to come up with its $725,000 share? Probably so, now with 400 fewer workers. Bay’s main problem is that the bottom has dropped out of the big petroleum barge market and that is basically all it builds. Maybe the $2.9 million can help the company diversify. No one wants to see the Great Lakes shipbuilding market lose Bay Shipbuilding. 



Candies adds another construction vessel

Around the bayou, a week is not complete without the christening of at least one major vessel. Otto Candies LLC splashed Kelly Ann Candies on Aug. 27. The boat is a 240-foot construction vessel similar to Chloé Candies delivered in 2007. That vessel has been on charter to Saipem Americas almost since delivery.



Happiness in Galliano 

Shipbuilding continues to hum along at Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) of Galliano, La. The company’s shipyards in Houma and Larose, La., have delivered three 280-foot supply boats and a gigantic 366-foot anchor handler so far this year. Delivered to them have been five crew/supply boats from Breaux Brothers Enterprises of Loreauville, La. A yard full of these aluminum vessels remains under construction.

The Tampa Ship LLC yard is working on a 300-foot supply boat and news now comes that the company will be building a dozen more 300-footers, 10 in the U.S. and two by their Brazilian shipyard.

Another ECO company, GulfShip in Gulfport, Miss., has delivered C-20, C-21 and C-22, three tractor tugs.

If the offshore oil segment were going to take a dive in 2010, those smart people in Galliano would not be building vessels at this rate.   



Towboat market being pushed around

News about the inland waterways market seems uniformly bad these days. There is talk that Bollinger Shipyard’s Gretna facility on the Harvey Canal may have trouble staying open after delivering an 80,000-barrel barge to Bouchard. 

However, the delivery of towboats and tugs by the nation’s shipbuilders seems to be humming right along. According to Tim Colton’s Maritime Memos, 90 tows and tugs have been delivered by the first week of August, almost identical to what was delivered same time last year. 

No doubt these deliveries will start to tail off later this year and into 2010, but at the moment bad news regarding layoffs doesn’t seem to be slowing down production at the shipyards.

In the barge market, production for 2009 has already exceeded 2008 figures in some barge types. So far in 2009, Colton reports 16 oceangoing barges over 5,000 gross tons have been delivered compared with a total of 18 in all of 2008.

But the figures really get confusing if you look at the under 5,000 gross-ton production. In 2008, 264 tank barges under 5,000 gross tons were produced. So far in 2009 the number is 169. Not reported are the number of small dry cargo and small deck barges for 2008. The figure for 2009 is 395. So it all appears to depend on what kind of barges the yards are building as to their success. Large barges such as those built by Bay Shipbuilding and Bollinger seem to have had their demand dry up while the under 5,000 gross-ton segment seems to be doing just fine, except for Trinity Madisonville.

Trinity Madisonville was basically building tank barges for one customer, Marathon Petroleum. In 2008, the yard built 25 300-foot tank barges for Marathon and six for another customer. By the time 2009 rolled around, Trinity Madisonville finished up the Marathon order by building six barges at the beginning of the year. Eleven more barges were built for several different customers in small quantities (one each in several cases), but apparently the yard has no more orders. Other Trinity yards, building different types of barges, are doing well, for now.



Remember the Main

Main Iron Works in Houma, La., delivered a 4,000-hp towboat for Bisso Marine of New Orleans and Houston this month, and the company ordered another one for September 2011. 

Main Iron Works is one of more than a score of shipyards in the Houma area that have struck out in the battle for Stimulus grant money.

By Professional Mariner Staff