Shipbuilding News September 2010

Leevac keeps up with the market

Although Leevac Shipyard LLC was founded almost 100 years ago, the company seems to be ahead of the market. Formerly known as Zigler Shipyard, the Jennings, La., builder was active in the workboat market for decades until the market for tugs and supply boats bottomed out in the late 1980s.

Quickly the company saw the short-term future lying in the construction of casino vessels and for almost 10 years it was one of the largest builders of these vessels. As this market slowed down in the mid 1990s, the yard switched back to supply vessels. Since then a series of 220-foot, 240-foot and 250-foot highly capable OSVs have been delivered to the fleets of Tidewater Inc., and Hornbeck Offshore Services.

Now with the last of these vessels being delivered, Leevac has signed a contract to build a pair of 187-foot lightering tankers for offloading large, deep-draft ships.

Leevac has an option to build up to six more of these vessels and the first one will be delivered in October 2011. Leevac may sign additional contracts for OSVs, with the market picking up, but once again the company has slightly shifted its focus to keep the yard up and running.


Semco LLC delivers another 280-foot-class lift boat  

Pico Energy, an Egypt-based company, has taken delivery of a 280-foot-class lift boat, the third built by Semco LLC, of Lafitte, La., in the past two years. The vessel is unique from its two sisters (and any other lift boat in the world) in that it has an oil well workover unit installed between the two legs at the bow.

This unit will cantilever 25 feet from the vessel to line up with the well bore hole so liquid mud or other chemicals can be injected or extracted from the well. 

Pico 4 has 13 diesel engines, two for propulsion, two for jacking, two for electrical generation, one for each of the two cranes, one for the emergency generator, two to run the mud pumps and two to run the hydraulics connected with the workover unit.

Pico 4 has a pair of 200-ton cranes, one on each of the two front legs. If the cranes were not mounted on the front legs, there would not be room to install the 115,000-lb workover unit.

Pico will first use Pico 4 on a series of projects in the Mexican part of the Gulf of Mexico.


Huge lift boats to be delivered end 2010 and mid 2011

Speaking of lift boats, a pair of gigantic ones are under construction in Louisiana. Both far exceed the leg length and power of the existing champion, the 280-foot-class vessels built by Semco LLC. Both are similar in that they are diesel/electric powered, but differ in most other ways.

The largest will be Robert, being built by Gulf Island Fabrication, of Houma, La., for Montco Offshore, of Galliano, La., for delivery in mid 2011. It will be the first 335-foot-leg-class vessel and the first to mount a 500-ton crane. Only derrick barges have a crane this large or larger. It also has accommodations for 152 people (132 passengers and 20 crew). Maximum water depth is 270 feet, assuming an air gap of 50 feet and leg penetration of 15 feet.

Not far behind in size is the new Semco vessel with 320-foot legs. Powered by four Caterpillar 1,710-kW generators, the lift boat will use electricity for propulsion, the bow thruster, jacking power and other ship’s services. A pair of 325-ton cranes will be mounted on the front legs of the vessel. 

Accommodations are for 100 people. Maximum water depth is 255 feet, assuming the same air gap of 50 feet and leg penetration of 15 feet. With less air gap, working water depth is greater by every foot less of air gap.  

What’s behind the drive to build these super lift boats? Sure the ability to work on oil/gas platforms in ever-deeper water is a primary factor, but equally important is their use in the totally different market of wind farm construction. Lift boats are ideal to install wind farm towers and their generators and blades, but most of today’s lift boats simply cannot “rise to the occasion.” That is, they cannot jack themselves up far enough to install the generators and blades.

Semco’s largest vessel, Titan II with 280-foot legs, just finished a contract installing a wind farm in England and it took every foot of the vessel’s legs and crane power for the workers to install the generator and blades. This was possible only because the wind farm was in only 35 feet of water. With deeper water, lift boats need an additional 20 to 40 feet of height to install wind farm towers and these super lift boats provide that leg height.

So for those shipyards that can build lift boats of this size, a new market is emerging.


Horizon Shipbuilding continues to build towboats

In 2010 and 2011 Horizon Shipbuilding Inc., of Bayou La Batre, Ala., will deliver 10 120-foot and 140-foot towboats to Florida Marine Transporters. 

Horizon is not normally a builder of towboats, but the success of the first vessels delivered to Florida Marine Transporters put Horizon on the bid list for an Army Corps of Engineers contract, which they won. This contract is for an $8.6 million river towboat and will be delivered in February 2012. 


Signal delivers two power barges

Signal International, of Mobile, Ala., which purchased Bender Shipbuilding a few months ago, has converted the yard into a repair facility, but Signal has also invested heavily in its new building facility in Orange, Texas.

This investment is paying off as the yard delivered a pair of power barges in a little over three months. This was possible because of a $40 million investment in process improvements and continuous-flow manufacturing methods.

The 300-by-100-foot barges are built around a GE 7FA gas turbine and a 171-MW generator. The customer was Waller Marine Inc., which will operate the barges in Venezuela.



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