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Shipyards Stand Strong By Don Sutherland The shipbuilding business runs in cycles, but the present boom's buildup goes back to OPA 90. Look at all the new double-skin barges already built and still in the works -- Bollinger showed us a couple for K-Sea and for Reinauer, VT Halter showed us Crowley's new 180,000 BBL ATB, designed and built in-house -- a continuing succession of shipyard activity dictated by law. Bollinger Gulf Repair on the Industrial Canal has just put a couple large barges in the water for Penn and for Bouchard. More are scheduled to come in, according to the company's Executive Vice President of Marketing, Robert Socha. On top of that, there's the upsurge in supply boats. Harvey Gulf, expanding its operation's scope, has been operating the 240-ft. OSV Harvey Provider. The company recently took delivery of the Harvey Discovery, a 265-ft. OSV, to be followed by three full SOLAS 280-footers, beginning with the Harvey Spirit, according to the company's Capt. Jake Stahl. Bollinger has its first of 10 in the works for Rigdon at its Larose yard. Other yards around the region showed hulls in good numbers, well on their way to completion. Katrina? They remember the flooding at VT Halter's yards at Pascagoula, and the high-water mark has been marked on a pillar in an assembly shed. But the company's Bill Skinner almost forgot to mention it, as current events have everyone in a different present. Halter will be building some military ships, including a $199 million contract for the design and construction of a U.S. Navy Missile Range Instrumentation Ship. Under a Federal program, Halter has been awarded a design contract for a war- ship for the Egyptian Navy. The company will also have its hand in surveillance ships coming up. A double-ended ferry for the Martha's Vinyard-Woods Hole run off Cape Cod was in the water being outfitted at Halter's Moss Point yard. Nearby the hull of the Pisces was coming together on shore, as the fourth and final in a series of fisheries survey and research ships for NOAA, the new state-of-the-art. This one will be deployed in her native waters around Pascagoula. At the Moss Point Marine yard, the third in the NOAA series, the Bigelow, was in the water a few meters away from Crowley's new ATB Pacific Reliance. That's one of 10 ATBs Halter will be building for the customer. Also in construction at Halter's was a 3000-ton crane barge for the Washington State Dam Project, consisting of two 90 x 130-ft. barges to act like a catamaran, sharing their superstructure. Maritime diversity was the order of the day at Bollinger's Amelia yard as well, where work was proceeding along a charming discovery: that old supply boats, properly treated, can transform to excellent yachts for those in the long-range game. Amid the jack-up boats under repair at Bollinger, there was even a floating public State of the art steel cutting equipment on the job at VT Halter, after the facility's rough encounter with the "dirty" side of Katrina a year ago. (Photo: Don Sutherland.) "The construction boom is on everybody's mind," said OMSA's Ken Wells. "A lot of the OSV market is aimed toward specific jobs or contracts. Customers may be finally recognizing that adequate vessels are as important as rigs." swimming pool under construction -- some 80 x 50 ft. of it, with a barge surrounding it for such amenities as locker rooms, showers, bathrooms, sitting areas. It was created for a not-for-profit in New York called the Neptune Foundation, with support from the Municipal Art Society. You name the extremes and you'll find them under construction along the Gulf, for uses far outside the oil patch, predicated on conditions that existed before Katrina. That wouldn't take into account what has since been called "the largest domestic oil find since the 1968 discovery of Alaska's Prudhoe Bay," in the form of September's Chevron strike at the Jack field. The high hopes at press time cite a 10-15-billion-barrel yield over the years. That awaits confirmation, and the impact on the industry remains to be assessed. But at the least, it suggests that demand for offshore support is in no imminent danger of decline. "The construction boom is on everybody's mind," said OMSA's Wells. "A lot of the OSV market is aimed toward specific jobs or contracts. Customers may be finally recognizing that adequate vessels are as important as rigs." With so much pressure for newbuilds, there's a natural inclination to think about upgrading existing equipment. We saw a couple tugs of 1980s vintage, sandblasted throughout down to smooth steel, receiving new engines, generators, the works. Said one yard representative, pointing to a hull said to have another ten years of life in it, "She's getting a $4-$6-million refit. She would have sold for around $700k before Katrina." Two recent builds undergoing final touches at VT Halter -- ATB tug Pacific Reliance, the first of ten for Crowley, and the Henry B. Bigelow, a new state-of-the-art fisheries survey vessel built by the yard for NOAA. (Photo: Don Sutherland) One of several barges under construction at Bollinger's Amelia yard. As the sections come together, the whole travels the rails inexorably in the direction of the water. (Photo: Don Sutherland.) 24 · MarineNews · November, 2006