Shipyards such as VT Halter Marine have secured newbuilding contracts as owners modernise North American tugboat fleets
North American shipyards have benefited from a growing number of tug and barge newbuilding contracts this year. US-based tugboat owners have ordered multiple units to modernise their fleets and meet the latest US Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.
Shipbuilding groups are building and maintaining strong orderbooks that stretch into 2020, and even further. Some shipyards have picked up repeat business through strong client relationships, while others have secured new contracts through their innovations and partnerships with naval architects.
Shipyards cater for domestic owners operating with protection through Jones Act cabotage regulations and privilege. Yards are building articulated tug-barge (ATB) units for both inland and coastal transportation and tugs to support terminal operations.
VT Halter Marine has secured repeat business from a long-time client and contracts for one of the world’s first LNG bunkering ATBs. This Pascagoula, Mississippi, shipbuilder has delivered 2,600 vessels to commercial and government customers in 29 countries and has a strong and diverse orderbook.
VT Halter Marine senior vice president Robert Socha highlighted how the shipbuilding group had introduced the latest 3D engineering software, enhanced safety procedures and partnered with key ship designers to secure construction business, which also includes ferries, naval vessels and container roro ships.
“Relationships, some going back over 37 years with return customers like Bouchard Transportation, are paramount,” Mr Socha told Tug Technology & Business. “This allows us to grow along with our diverse customer base.”
VT Halter has produced vessels for 70 years using engineering and design capabilities from worldwide resources. “We leverage the core engineering competencies of the ST Engineering Group in Singapore whenever we can, to enhance our capabilities,” said Mr Socha. “We also use outside design agents when they bring designs or core competencies we do not have.”
Extending its long relationships, VT Halter has a contract with Bouchard Transportation to construct two twin-screw ATB units for operations in New York state. The first of these ABS-class ATBs, Evening Breeze, is scheduled for delivery in Q1 2019 and the second, Evening Stroll, in Q1 2020.
Evening Breeze is scheduled for delivery in Q1 2019 and Evening Stroll in Q1 2020
These will both have an overall length of 34 m, breadth of 10.5 m and 5.2-m hull depth. They will each have combined power of 2,990 kW and be classed for ocean towage. Both ATBs will meet US Coast Guard’s Subchapter M and SOLAS requirements and the EPA’s Tier 4 emissions regulations.
On another project, VT Halter is combining engineering of ATBs with LNG cargo for two bunkering units. It is building a 4,000-m3 capacity LNG transportation and bunkering barge and LNG-powered tug as an ATB project for Quality LNG Transport (Q-LNG).
This is expected to provide LNG bunkering services, under a long-term contract to Shell, and will be operated by Harvey Gulf International Marine when it comes into service in Q1 2020. Shell will use this ATB to refuel cruise ships and other dual-fuel vessels in the southeastern US. VT Halter is also set to build an 8,000-m3 capacity ATB for Q-LNG, which will be a scaled-up version of the smaller bunker vessel, with the same design features.
“Our facility is capable of supporting multiple building programmes at any one time,” said Mr Socha. This Pascagoula shipyard has direct 9-nautical mile, unobstructed deepwater access to the Gulf of Mexico. It can process more than 40,000 tonnes of steel per year.
Operations facilities cover more than 331,800 m2 with the main undercover fabrication and assembly buildings covering 68,500 m2. These areas are dedicated to cutting, shaping, fabricating, assembling, erecting and inspecting large construction modules and assembly blocks. The operations facilities also have a blast and paint facility and more than 3,420 m2 of warehouse space for storing and distributing vessel construction materials.
VT Halter’s facilities are equipped with crane and lifting units for single or multicrane lifts. This includes:
The shipyard has multiple options for transferring a fully assembled vessel from land to afloat. The three methodologies most frequently used are side-launch using tilt-beams, end-launch via the launch dock or side-launch using cranes.
Other elements that enhance VT Halter’s services are its safety strategies, procedures and training. “To reduce our incident rate our upper management supports and buys into the safety programme,” said Mr Socha. “Management and production leadership work together to hold frontline supervision accountable and they in turn hold the employees accountable.”
“Management and production leadership work together to hold frontline supervision accountable”
Its safety training includes a five-hour orientation for all employees using various materials including presentations and video. There are weekly safety meetings with toolbox topics covered for different craft and supervisor training is provided. VT Halter also provides specialty training such as forklift, man-lift, overhead crane, fire watch and remedial training.
Gulf Island Fabrication is prospering from repeat business, strong links with the US Navy and ongoing ATB orders. It has an orderbook that could stretch to 2025 if all options are taken. For example, Gulf Island announced it was awarded an option to build a second towboat for an unnamed owner in August. The first vessel for this order was awarded in May.
Both towboats will be built to ABS rules for US trade with power ratings of 2,460 kW at the shipyard in Houma, Louisiana. The first towboat is due for delivery in mid-2019 and the second two months later.
Gulf Island builds tugboats at its shipyard in Houma, Louisiana
In addition, Gulf Island is building four Z-Tech 30-80 terminal and escort tugs for Bay-Houston Towing and Suderman & Young Towing. These will be fitted with FiFi1 fire-fighting systems and deliveries are due to begin before the end of this year. There are options for two additional Z-Tech tugs that will not be equipped for fire-fighting.
Gulf Island also has an order for a new salvage tug for the US Navy. An initial order for the prototype was placed for delivery in 2020 and there are options attached for seven more 43-m tugs, which could maintain employment for the shipyard into 2025.
“Orderbook is the largest it has been in four years”
Gulf Island president and chief executive Kirk Meche said the contract backlog “is the largest it has been in four years” at US$347.6M, as of August 2018, including project deliveries through to 2022. This revenue backlog excludes the options on contracts, with a combined value of US$563M, which includes deliveries through to 2025 should all options be exercised.
Gulf Island has been rationalising its business by selling underused assets. During Q2 2018, it sold its South Yard in Texas and in September it agreed to sell the North Yard facilities in Aransas Pass, Texas, for US$28M. Mr Meche anticipates more sales of under-utilised assets in the future.
Contracts and orders
Eastern Shipbuilding Group has secured orders for tugs as owners focus on complying with EPA Tier 4 requirements. It gained contracts at the end of May to build ship-handling and escort tugs for Bisso Offshore, a subsidiary of New Orleans-based EN Bisso & Son. These tugs were designed by Robert Allan to a RApport 2400 design and adapted to have Caterpillar Tier 4 main engines.
They will be built to ABS class and are set to operate in ports and terminals on the US Gulf coast by 2020. These 24-m tugs will have a bollard pull of around 63 tonnes and top speed of about 12 knots.
Eastern Shipbuilding is also building offshore patrol cutters for the US Coast Guard with orders to build up to nine of these vessels with options for two more.
Conrad Industries’ shipyards in Texas and Louisiana have worked on three ATBs this year for Maryland-based Vane Brothers. Its shipyard in Orange, Texas, built the tug section units, which were designed by Castleman Maritime, while the shipyard in Amelia built the 80,000-barrel capacity barges.
The first tug, Assateague, was delivered in February this year. The other two boats will be named Chincoteague and Wachapreague. All three will have Cummins QSK60M engines and Beacon Finland JAK 700 tug/barge coupling systems.
Conrad’s Louisiana shipyard is also building Kāpena-class tugs for Young Brothers, an independent subsidiary of Foss Maritime. The first of these, Kāpena Jack Young, was christened in Louisiana in August. It was built to a Damen USA design with General Electric propulsion that meets EPA Tier 4 requirements.
Three more of these tugs will be constructed by Conrad for Young Brothers’ inter-island transportation operations in Hawaii. Young Brothers president Joe Boivin said these four tugs would reduce the average age of the fleet from 44 years to 12 years once they are in operation.
Vane Brothers also has newbuilding tugs on order at Chesapeake Shipbuilding, Maryland. This shipyard is constructing four pusher tugs with Caterpillar main engines, conventional shafts, rudders and flanking rudders.
These 28.5-m sister vessels will each have 2,240 kW of power and accommodation for seven seafarers. Chesapeake designed the tugs to have a 10.4 m beam and 3.2 m depth. It has previously built 16 tugs for Vane Brothers.
C&C Marine and Repair has built three towboats with one under construction for Marquette Transportation. The first in this series, Cindy L. Erickson, was delivered in February this year. The second, Chris Reeves, followed in May and Jerry Jarrett entered service in September. A fourth of these 5,000-kW tugs is scheduled to be delivered in December this year.
The four tugs were designed by CT Marine with Cummins QSK60-M main engines and three Steerprop SP25D Z-drive thrusters. This triple Z-drive configuration provides optimal speed, power and manoeuvrability. C&C Marine added suspension to the superstructure and a soft-core jointer system to improve comfort for these tugs’ 13 seafarers.
Hansen Boat Co completed an oceangoing tug for Dunlap Towing in July. Sigrid Dunlap has Caterpillar main engines and Nautican propulsion. It was designed by Hockema Whalen Myers and classed by ABS for operations in ports on the US west coast.
Nichols Brothers Boat Builders has built a 33-m tug with hybrid propulsion for Baydelta Maritime. This was designed by Jensen Maritime and installed with two Caterpillar C3516 C main engines and Rolls-Royce electric motors and azimuth thrusters. This is due to be delivered in Q1 2019.
VT Halter uses a variety of software for design and engineering to enhance its naval architecture and ship construction. VT Halter Marine senior vice president Robert Socha said the group uses AutoCAD for 2D drafting, ShipConstructor for 3D product modelling and NavisWorks for model viewing, display and analysis.
Its engineers can then use Rhino for further 3D modelling and AutoDesk Simulator for finite element analysis of the3D models. Mr Socha said the shipyard uses ShipWeight for weight control software and Pipe-Flo for fluid flow analysis, Creative Systems’ General HydroStatics for stability and hydrostatics calculations, Primavera P6 for scheduling and Microsoft Office for documentation and other office software requirements.
VT Halter also engages outside design and engineering assistance when required. It is working with Downey Engineering, TAI, Wärtsilä Ship Design and TGE on various construction projects.
|US shipyard deliveries 2018|
|unknown||US Navy||January||harbour||Modutech Marine||Cummins|
|Gwyneth Anne||Middle River Marine||January||towboat||Cummins|
|Tom Toretti||Waterfront Services||January||inland towage||Master Marine||Mitsubishi|
|Cindy L Eriksen||Marquette Transportation Co||February||tow tug||C&C Marine||Cummins|
|Kamryn Olivia||Middle River Marine||March||towboat||Cummins|
|Sam P Hise||Waterfront Services||April||inland towage||Master Marine||Mitsubishi|
|Rosemary McAllister||McAllister Towing||May||escort||Horizon||Caterpillar|
|Chris Reeves||Marquette Transportation Co||May||harbour||C&C Marine||Cummins|
|Cape Ann||Kirby||July||seagoing ATB||Master Boat||Caterpillar|
|Sigrid Dunlap||Dunlap Towing||July||oceangoing||Hansen Boat Co||Caterpillar|
|Kāpena Jack Young||Young Brothers||August||oceangoing||Conrad||General Electric|
|Jerry Jarrett||Marquette Transportation||September||inland towage||C&C Marine||Cummins|
|Deliveries up to 30 September (Source Tug Technology & Business)|