Tampa Ship to build OSV
Tampa Ship, LLC, the company in which Edison Chouest Offshore bought a controlling interest, has announced that it will build a 300-foot offshore vessel. That is a typical move for Chouest â€” get a new project in a new yard right away. The company did this at Gulf Ship, LLC, of Gulfport, Miss., where Chouest assigned the building of eight LNG docking tugs to the yard shortly after it opened.
In addition, Tampa is in the middle of building a series of barges for OMG. Thatâ€™s about a yearâ€™s worth of work. No doubt ECO will send other projects Tampa Shipâ€™s way, once they cut their teeth on a 300-foot long OSV. This vessel will be the longest new construction supply boat ever built. There are several 285-290â€™s abuilding out there and Chouest owns the Akira Chouest, a 325-foot supply boat that was converted from a freighter about 10 years ago.
Conrad building ferries
Conrad Industries, Inc., of Morgan City, La., is building a 224-foot, 70-car ferry for the state of Texas. It is due for completion in April 2009. Gary Lipely, director of sales and marketing for Conrad, said the Conrad Aluminum yard in nearby Amelia, La., is building a 500-passenger all-aluminum passenger ferry for Puerto Rico with an early second quarter delivery.
Bender to build more OSVs for GulfMark Offshore
As an indication that the new construction end of the workboat market is not drying up, take the example of Bender Shipyard and Repair, Mobile, Ala. The company has signed a contract with GulfMark/Rigdon to construct three platform supply boats costing about $25 million each. Deliveries are fourth quarter 2009 and first half 2010.
Cheaper by the dozen?
Further proof of a robust ship building industry is the contract for a dozen crew/supply boats for Gulf Offshore Logistics to be built by Breauxâ€™s Bay Craft of Loreauville, La. Matter of fact, all three of the Loreauville aluminum crew/supply boat builders in this tiny central Louisiana town are busy, with Breaux Brothers still turning out crew vessels for Edison Chouest Offshore as they have been doing for several years. In the yard currently are a series of 177-footers. Neuville Boat Works is busy with a quartet of 158-footers, one for Texas Crewboats and three for Iberia Crewboats.
On another part of Bayou Teche, Gulf Craft is rapidly completing the second of two high-speed catamaran crew boats for Seacor Marine and Island Boats has delivered one of its 175-footers to Bourbon Offshore and has another about completed for GulfMark. Next up for Island Boats is a pair of 168-foot crew/supply vessels for Southern States.
Did you know
While this has nothing to do with the quality of the finished product, did you know that many shipyards rely on other companies to cut their steel and aluminum plate? Only the big guys in the industry such as Bollinger, Bender and Halter have â€œplate linesâ€� and plasma cutters that can form the intricate shapes of the many pieces of steel and aluminum needed for todayâ€™s boat designs. Often the fabrication of many work boats begins when the flat bed truck arrives at the shipyard with a load of precut metal usually from Alabama, North Carolina or Texas.
Hot news from the show floor
The annual International WorkBoat Show (December 3-5) is usually a treasure trove of boat building info. While many shipyards and their suppliers may suffer a business downturn in the rough times ahead, the shipbuilders I talked to were optimistic, at least cautiously so. The prevailing feeling among many of the major shipbuilders is that their backlog would carry them for another year or so while the economy recovers. That is a risky balancing act, but the fundamentals behind this scenario are solid.
Semco Business Being Jacked Up
The relatively unknown and small shipyard of Semco, Inc., in Lafitte, La., definitely has business on the rise. OK, enough of the standard puns about a lifttboat builder. Semco has always specialized in building the really BIG liftboats and its order book continues to reflect that. Recently they â€œsort ofâ€� delivered a huge 285-foot class (length of the legs) liftboat to KS Energy of Singapore. Only problem with this delivery is that it was put on a heavy lift ship for delivery to the UK. On the delivery trip the heavy lift ship had engine trouble in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and the KS Titan I capsized and sank. Fortunately, KS has a sister ship still at Semco and it will probably replace the one that sank. Nice to have a spare.
Currently Semco has a third identically designed 285-foot class vessel for another customer and is just starting on a 320-foot class liftboat with a 400-foot class vessel under design. A huge amount of work for this small yard and another indication that the boat building industry, at least in the Gulf South, will be OK.
Trouble may still abound in the Pacific Northwest with business for area shipyards, but ironically overflow work from the Gulf South assigned to some of those west coast yards may save them. Example would be three huge IMR Gulf of Mexico vessels being built by Dakota Creek Industries, of Anacortes, Wash. One is delivered and two are under construction.
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.