Supply Boats

This may come as a surprise, given the hit the economy has taken in the last couple of years, but deliveries of utility and supply boats for 2010 will probably be near 2009 levels of 46 vessels.

This is true for a couple of reasons. First, several shipyards are still working on contracts issued more than two years ago for runs of six to 10 vessels each. And the three yards that belong to industry giant Edison Chouest show no sign of slowing down.

Master Boats built Callais Provider for Abdon Callais Offshore. The DP-1 OSV is 170 feet long with 3,000 square feet of clear deck space. (Photo courtesy Abdon Callais Offshore )

But things are not all rosy. Hornbeck Offshore Services ordered multiple boats from Atlantic Marine and Leevac Industries, but those contracts are coming to an end and Hornbeck has not announced any newbuilds. Bollinger Shipyards is nearing the end of an eight-vessel program for its affiliate, BeeMar LLC. And the BP accident in the Gulf, which led to the moratorium on deepwater drilling, will have negative consequences, the nature of which is not yet fully clear.

Finally, recessionary pressures are still with us, eroding market confidence.

In spite of the negatives, one company continues to build offshore supply vessels and other workboats in record numbers. Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO), of Galliano, La., built 20 vessels in 2009 — 11 280-foot supply boats (of which six were built in Brazil), three 187-foot fast supply boats, a 348-foot anchor handler, a 300-foot well stimulation vessel and four 110-foot tractor tugs.

And with Edison Chouest, boats often emerge from its yards unannounced — the company often builds vessels with national security implications.

BeeMar’s 210-footer Bumble Bee on Bayou Lafourche in Louisiana on the vessel’s delivery run. (Larry Pearson photo)

This year has seen more of the same from ECO. Deliveries so far include the 288-foot Holiday, a huge new anchor handler, no doubt the largest OSV to be built this year. More 280-footers are slated before ECO starts on an order for 10 300-foot vessels, a huge icebreaker and who knows what else. ECO’s backlog is currently about two years.

“The 280-foot supply boats have become Gulf of Mexico classics and are used all over the world for their cargo and supply capacities,†said Gary Chouest, the company’s president. “We started building the 280s in 2003 and when we are done in 2010 we will have built 42 of them.â€

Steel is being cut and fabrication has begun on a new series of 10 300-foot diesel-electric vessels. These are not simply stretches of the 280s; they are newly designed with four Caterpillar 1,700-kW generators providing power to a pair of 2,500-kW electric motors driving twin z-drives and four 1,050-kW thrusters, two at the bow and two aft.

Deadweight capacity is 5,300 long tons versus 4,750 long tons for the 280s, and deck cargo capacity increases 10 percent to 11,000 square feet.

Marie Elise is a 269-foot platform supply vessel delivered to Gulf Offshore Logistics this summer by Thoma-Sea Ship Builders in Lockport, La. The DPS-2 vessel is certified for 100 passengers and has 8,624 square feet of clear deck space. (Larry Pearson photo)

Other important features include an increase in liquid mud capacity from 13,000 barrels to 16,000 and a huge increase in rig water capacity to 571,000 gallons.

Although Hornbeck Offshore Services, of Covington, La., has not ordered any additional vessels for the past couple of years, it has taken a significant number of deliveries in that time, including a pair of 400-foot supply boats converted from former sulfur carriers and a 421-foot inspection maintenance and repair (IMR) vessel, HOS Iron Horse, the second IMR vessel Hornbeck has had built in Holland, at IHC Merwede.

Atlantic Marine, of Jacksonville, Fla., finished a six-vessel order of 240-footers for Hornbeck late last year, and Leevac has three vessels left to complete out of a nine-boat order for 250-foot supply vessels. Neither company has announced additional orders.

Candies Shipbuilding, a division of Otto Candies LLC, of Des Allemands, La., has so much business for its parent company that some of it is going to other shipyards. Ross Candies, a 309-foot IMR vessel (profile, Page 12) went into service in May; it and a similar vessel, Grant Candies, had their hulls and superstructures built by Dakota Creek Industries, of Anacortes, Wash. Some deck equipment, such as the crane, was added in Galveston, Texas, and the vessels remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) at Bollinger Shipyards in Port Fourchon, La.

A new 220-footer from Master Boats, Nicholas P. Callais can carry 128,200 gallons of fuel and 179,760 gallons of liquid mud. The DP-2 vessel has three Omega 1170 thrusters, two in the bow and one in the stern. ( Photo courtesy Abdon Callais Offshore)

“Grant has been acting as a hotel for an offshore oil/gas construction project and as long as it is being used in this capacity, deck equipment will not be added,†said Brett Candies, traffic and sales manager for Otto Candies LLC. A third IMR, Cade Candies, will make its way around to Louisiana from Washington state in the third quarter of 2010.

Other projects include Peyton Candies and Joshua Candies, a pair of 285-foot supply boats. Peyton was built at Candies Shipbuilding and delivered in July and Joshua is having its hull and superstructure built at VT Halter Marine, of Pascagoula, Miss. The vessel will be finished at Candies in October.

Candies Shipbuilding is also building Kelly Ann Candies, a 300-foot IMR and a sister ship to Chloe Candies, the first vessel built at Candies Shipbuilding in 2005. Chloe is at work for Saipem America in Brazil, Brett Candies said.

VT Halter Marine always has supply boats in its order book. In March, L&M Botruc Rentals, of Golden Meadow, La., took delivery of the 230-foot Cheramie Botruc #40, and #41 will join the fleet later this year.

For most of this decade, Master Boat Builders, of Coden, Ala. has been building supply boats for Abdon Callais Offshore, of Golden Meadow, La. The number is past 40 now, and the work continues. In 2009, five vessels were delivered. By midyear this year, three more had been delivered.

This year’s crop include the 205-foot DP-1 Infant Jesus of Prague, the 170-foot DP-1 Callais Provider and the 220-foot Nicholas P. Callais.

Engines for all of these vessels are Caterpillars, either 3512s or 3508s, and all can hold fuel oil, water and 2,200 barrels of liquid mud.

Master Boat Builders is working on orders beyond those for Abdon Callais, General Manager Andre Dubroc said. “We are building a 190-foot supply boat for Odyssea Marine, Larose, La., and a 199-foot dive support vessel for Oceaneering International, Patterson, La.,†he said.

As mentioned, Bollinger Shipyards, of Lockport, La., has had a multi-vessel contract with BeeMar. Last year it delivered five 210-foot vessels, and this year three 234-footers have been delivered. But just because the OSVs have left the yard doesn’t mean Bollinger is out of work — far from it.

Dovetailing in behind the OSVs is a U.S. Coast Guard order for four 154-foot Sentinel-class fast-response patrol boats. And if the past is prologue, this order for four vessels will grow into 50 or more, keeping Bollinger busy for the next decade.

Tidewater Inc., of Houston, keeps its new-construction yard, Quality Shipyards, in Houma, La., busy with work. Last year Quality delivered the 266-foot Terrel Tide; this year a sister ship, Leboeuf Tide, joined the Tidewater fleet.

Thoma-Sea Ship Builders, with shipyards in Houma and Lockport, La., continues to build significant supply vessels. Last year it built the 250-foot Gulf Tiger for Gulf Fleet, of Lafayette, La. The vessel has 4,200 hp of propulsion power via a pair of Caterpillar 3516 diesels.

Thoma-Sea then delivered the 268-foot Tyler Stephen to Gulf Offshore Logistics, again with a pair of Caterpillar 3516s. Caterpillar also supplied a pair of 425-kW engines for electrical generation and a pair of C-32s to run a pair of 750-hp bow thrusters. Liquid mud capacity is 10,500 barrels.

The big news at Thoma-Sea is the landing of another huge order for supply boats from Gulf Offshore, for four 300-foot DP-2 diesel-electric platform supply vessels. Delivery for the first vessel will be in 2012.

These boats will have capacity for 18,000 barrels of liquid mud and 13,000 cubic feet of dry bulk and will exceed 5,000 dwt. Power will be via Caterpillar engines and Rolls-Royce will supply the integrated bridge system, DP-2 system, power management system and electrical distribution.

Thoma-Sea also announced that the U.S. Navy had awarded it a $7.3 million contract to build a 96-foot catamaran-hull hydrographic survey vessel for the nation of Oman.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group, of Panama City, Fla., has a strong, well-balanced order book split between towboats, OSVs and ferryboats; it also built two fireboats for the New York Fire Department (profile, Page 32).

On the OSV side, Eastern delivered a pair of 260-foot boats to Laborde Marine in 2009 and a third in March.

Eastern also delivered Harvey Carrier, the third of three 260- by 60-foot supply boats, to Harvey Gulf International Marine, of New Orleans.

The big news at Eastern, however, is the new Tiger Shark series of OSVs designed by Aker Yards Marine. The first two in the series are 284-foot vessels for Aries Marine, of Lafayette, La.

These are top-of-the line diesel-electric vessels with DP-2, capable of carrying 15,000 barrels of liquid mud and able to handle other chemicals such as methanol. The first vessel will be named Dwight S. Ramsey, after the founder of the company.

The Tiger Shark design will also be used for six OSVs for Harvey Gulf. These 292- by 60-foot vessels will meet all MARPOL and IMO regulations for worldwide use. Liquid mud capacity is almost 20,000 barrels, and this diesel-electric design will be powered by a quartet of Cummins QSK60 M diesels rated at 1,825 kW each. Delivery will begin in June 2011.

In summary, it looks as if 2010 deliveries will be about the same as in 2009. The 2011 market looks weaker, however, with no more than 40 vessels delivered but several under construction.

By Professional Mariner Staff