SUPPLY BOATS: Out the yard and straight to work

Rigdon colors, different series: the 54-foot beam on the GPA-640 class St. Louis (left) contrasts with the narrower 46-beam on the GPA-654 class Triple Play in Port Fourchon. (Alan Haig-Brown courtesy Cummins Marine)

A sure indicator that supply boat construction will stay strong is that boats are going to work as soon as they complete sea trials. The new series of 10 190-foot diesel-electric DP-2 boats that Bollinger Shipyards is building for Rigdon Marine are prime examples.

Deliveries started in 2007 with First and Ten and will run through this fall. Billy Guice, Rigdon’s vice president of sales and marketing, says the 190-footers “may not be the largest in the industry, but for their size they are the most technologically advanced.â€

Tidewater’s Pat Tillman. (Brian Gauvin)

Rigdon, which is based in New Orleans, was sold in May to GulfMark Offshore, a Houston company that operates a fleet of offshore vessels outside the Gulf of Mexico.

Bollinger thinks the market for supply vessels will stay strong. As the Rigdon contract winds down, it is building 12 boats on spec. Partly, it’s a hedge against inflation. “Because of wildly changing steel prices, it is almost impossible to predict what it will cost to build a vessel during the normal bidding process,†said Robert Socha, Bollinger’s marketing manager. “So these vessels will not be sold until they are nearly complete and we know what our cost is.â€

At 210 feet by 56 feet, 10 of the vessels will be internationally classed SOLAS vessels with DP-2. The other two will be Gulf of Mexico-classed and will be 193 feet by 40 by 15, with DP-1.

The two smaller boats will use Cummins KTA50 engines rated at 1,600 hp each. The larger vessels will use Cummins QSK60 diesels with 2,000 hp each. Both classes will use Cummins-powered gensets and bow and stern thruster drives as well as fire-pump drives, and all engines will be Tier-2 emissions rated.


Another Louisiana shipyard with an order book for that will keep it busy for the next two to three years is Leevac Industries, of Jennings.

In 2007, the yard built a supply boat for Kilgore Marine and three for Tidewater Marine, including Pat Tillman (profile, Page 36). Now Leevac is building a series of nine 250-foot vessels for Hornbeck Offshore Services, part of its New Breed series. The beam is 54 feet; draft varies from 8 feet to 14.7 feet.

Propulsion is via a pair of Caterpillar 3516C engines rated at 3,000 hp each. Three Caterpillar C18 engines produce 340 kW of the ship’s power and there is a 99 kW emergency generator powered by a Caterpillar C4.4. Propellers are high efficiency and controllable pitch, 106 inches in diameter with four blades.

The vessels carry an ABS DP-2 rating, so they have two Brunvoll 950 hp controllable pitch tunnel thrusters and a 950 hp Brunvoll stern thruster.

The first vessel, due this fall, will be named HOS Arrowhead.

Atlantic Marine

Leevac’s are not the only supply boats being built for Hornbeck. In Jacksonville, Fla., Atlantic Marine is building five similar 240-foot vessels. These share many features with the 250-foot class, but the main engines are 2,000 hp Caterpillar 3516Cs and the cargo deck is 10 feet shorter at 175 feet.

Atlantic Marine has already delivered HOS Polestar. Lodestar, Shooting Star, North Star and Silverstar are due over the next two years.

VT Halter

A third yard, VT Halter Marine, in Pascagoula, Miss., is building yet another New Breed vessel for Hornbeck, HOS Coral. At 285 feet it is the longest supply boat now under construction, although Edison Chouest Offshore has a 320-footer, Akira Chouest, a freighter conversion.

Coral’s beam is 64 feet and draft varies from 10 to 19.4 feet, depending on load. Propulsion comes from a pair of 3,000 hp Caterpillar 3516C engines, as in Leevac’s 250-foot series, but the generators are larger. There are three Caterpillar C32 gensets with 715 hp of the ship’s power and a Caterpillar C9-powered 163 kW emergency generator.

Cargo capacity includes 15,350 barrels of liquid mud, 12,000 cubic feet of dry bulk, 650,000 gallons of rig water, 30,000 gallons of potable water and a maximum of 978,578 gallons of rig fuel. Those quantities are huge; so is the cargo deck, at 204 by 54 feet. Halter also reports that it is building two 230-foot supply boats for L&M BoTruc.

Eastern Shipbuilding

One more 285-footer will begin construction soon: Harvey Carrier, to be built at Eastern Shipbuilding Group, of Panama City, Fla. The owner is Harvey Gulf International Marine, of Harvey, La., a family company that announced in July that it was selling a 76 percent stake in the company to a New York-based private equity firm. The beam will be 60 feet and the draft 20 feet. Propulsion will be 8,000 hp and clear deck space will be 245 feet by 55 feet. Harvey Carrier will hold 17,500 barrels of liquid mud, perhaps a record for the Gulf, and 14,000 cubic feet of dry bulk.

Eastern Shipbuilding is also building a pair of 280-foot supply boats for Laborde Marine, of New Orleans, and two 284-foot vessels for Aries Marine, of Lafayette, La. The first is named for Aries’ founder, Dwight S. Ramsay.

Otto Candies

When it comes to building large vessels for the Gulf, Otto Candies, of Des Allemands, La., almost always has one under construction at its yard — Candies Shipbuilding, in Houma, La. — or elsewhere.

While Candies Shipbuild-ing has delivered the 205-foot Olivia Candies this year, the pride of its fleet are huge inspection, maintenance and repair vessels (IMRs) that tend older wells that are not producing as they once did.

Otto Candies is having Dakota Creek Industries, of Anacortes, Wash., build a pair of these, Ross Candies and Grant Candies. They are distinguished by their heliports, 100-ton deck masts that rise far above the main deck and sit atop large moon pools with 100-ton deep-sea winches, and 100-ton knuckle-boom cranes. These vessels also typically employ a pair of remotely operated vessels. But they don’t carry liquid mud or other transferable liquids.

Ross Candies is 309 feet long and uses a quartet of Caterpillar 3516C engines rated at 3,016 hp each. Grant Candies is just 15 feet shorter and uses both two Caterpillar 3512s and a pair of Caterpillar 3516 engines powering two 1,000 kW bow thrusters and two 2,250 kW stern thrusters. Ross Candies uses three 910 kW bow thrusters and a pair of 2,250 kW stern thrusters. All thrusters are by Schottel.

Moon pools on both vessels are 25 by 20 feet. A skid system capable of carrying 100-ton loads over the center of the pools is installed to lower equipment to the bottom via the deep-sea winch.

The personnel complement is 69 and these vessels carry a gym, cinema and full hospital. Grant Candies will be delivered late this year; Ross Candies will follow in 2009.

Edison Chouest

Richard Adams Sr. (right) and son Richard “Dickie†Adams Jr. at Lockport Fabrication. (Alan Haig-Brown courtesy Cummins Marine)

As for supply vessels currently working in the Gulf, the series of 280-footers from Edison Chouest Offshore are still the largest.

When C Freedom joined the fleet early this year, it was the 15th such vessel. C Fighter followed in April and two more will be delivered by year’s end.

“At 4,811 dwt capacity, this is an outstanding series of vessels,†said Roger White, Chouest’s senior vice president. “We purpose-built these vessels for our customers who are supplying tension-leg platforms and other structures deep in the Gulf.â€

Power comes from a pair of Caterpillar 3608 engines, each developing 3,600 hp. The engines also turn 1.2 mW shaft generators. Additional generating capacity comes from two 910 kW generators driven by Caterpillar 3508s; a third 3508 drives the 1,200 hp drop-down bow thruster. All vessels are DP-2 rated.

ECO is also building a series of Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS). The 288-foot Joshua Chouest made its debut late last year, following Max Chouest.

This year has seen a significant development at Chouest with one of its newest companies, C-Innovation, which was established to design and supply remotely operated vessels (ROVs) to the Chouest fleet. ROVs are an integral part of working in a subsea environment and are another sign that boat owners believe the future of the market is in deepwater.

While the new Chouest company designs and installs the ROVs, they are actually made by Schilling Robotics, of Davis, Calif.


Bender Shipbuilding & Repair, of Mobile, Ala., is building a series of six AHTS vessels for Seacor Marine, of Houma. Each vessel is 245 feet long and is outfitted for a dual supply and anchor-handling role.

The first vessel, John Coghill, was delivered last October and was followed by Norman F. McCall and Seacor Grant. The fourth, Seacor Sherman, suffered a serious setback on May 21, when it caught fire at the Bender dock, a blaze fueled by 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The fire started in the engine room, but spread through much of the ship. Repairs, if possible, will be significant, and it may be less costly to build a replacement from the keel up.

Bender also delivered a pair of 210-foot supply boats to Trico Marine.

Master Boat Builders

Over in Bayou La Batre, Ala., Master Boat Builders once again has a yard full of supply boats for Abdon Callais Offshore, of Golden Meadow, La., and Seacor Marine.

This year’s output will include four 185-footers for ACO and three 145s plus a pair of 190s for Seacor. Almost all vessels built by the yard are Caterpillar-powered.

In May, ACO added a pair of 145-footers from Master Boat Builders, Mr Lionel and Abigail Riche, plus a 185-footer, Danielle Calllais. One of the Seacor 190-footers, Seacor Cabral, saw an April delivery.


The area around Lockport, La., is dominated by Bollinger Shipyards, but other yards there are building supply boats. Both Thoma-Sea and Lockport Fabrication, for example, always seem to have a supply vessel on the blocks. In May, Thoma-Sea delivered a classic 225-footer, Master Everett, to Gulf Fleet Manage-ment, of Lafayette, La.

With a beam of 48 feet and a hull depth of 16 feet, this vessel can carry 6,000 barrels of liquid mud, 6,000 cubic feet of dry bulk and 118,000 gallons of fuel. A clear deck area of 6,519 square feet can haul 1,200 long tons of cargo.

Main engines are a pair of Caterpillar 3515Bs driving a pair of Aquamaster z-drives. The vessel is ABS rated DP-1; the Rolls-Royce/Ulstein bow thruster is driven by a Caterpillar C32 engine.

Intracoastal Iron Works

In September, Intracoastal, of Bourg, La., was due to deliver the 260-foot Monica Ann to Gulf Offshore Logistics, of Mathews, La. A pair of Caterpillar 3516 engines rated at 4,200 hp each will power the ABS-classed vessel. It has a DP-2 rating and uses equipment from Frank Beier Radio. Intracoastal is also working on two 280-footers.


A good example of the increase in OSV building is the activity at Mariner LLC of Houma. The yard is run by the father-and-son team of Gary Stansbury, senior and junior.

In September, the 166-foot Karla F will join the Superior Energy Services fleet, followed at the end of the year by the 170-foot Gulf Quest for Gulf Fleet Management. Behind these are a 170-foot supply vessel for a U.S. customer and a 172-foot DP-2 supply vessel for export.

Lockport Fabrication

The fourth supply boat delivered to Abdon Callais Offshore by Master Boat Builders of Coden, La. (Larry Pearson)

Lockport Fabrication finished the third of three utility boats, Penny F, in March. A fourth will join the Supreme Services fleet next year. At 166 by 36 feet, these vessels are versatile. They carry 60,000 gallons of fuel, 33,000 gallons of methanol and 2,500 barrels of liquid mud. They even have a 30-inch moon pool.

Other yards

In Belle Chasse, La., C&C Marine & Repair has a new construction division building 162-foot utility vessels that are fully ABS-classed for the first time. “Our international customers want ABS-class,†said company president Tony Cibilich. A similar utility boat is Port Eads, from St. John’s Ship Building of Palatka, Fla., and operated by Romeo Papa LLC of Houma. Its beam of 40 feet allows it to carry more belowdeck liquids than the average 166-footer.

Some yards are so diversified that they build only one or two supply boats a year. Master Marine, of Bayou La Batre, is one yard; it builds new, but it also has a robust repair business. Last year it delivered the 135-foot Andrew Charles to Gulf Alpha LLC; this year it has delivered a sister ship, Luke Thomas, to the same company.

No fewer than 20 shipyards are currently building supply boats at a rate of one to six or seven a year. This rate appears sustainable as long as activity in the Gulf remains at its current level. Not only are hulls being added to existing fleets, older boats are being replaced as well. It’s tough to market a 20-year-old vessel without DP or modern navigation and communications equipment. And with professional mariners in short supply, it’s even tougher to crew an old vessel with less-than-modern accommodations.

By Professional Mariner Staff