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Why swim in the rivers of New York, when you can swim in a pool in a barge in the rivers of New York? The Neptune Foundation's barge, whose name is The Floating Pool Lady, was built at Bollinger's Amelia yard as an amenity for the Big Apple. (Photo: Don Sutherland.) A dedicated shipyard worker brings a new meaning to the expression "getting into your work." (Photo: Don Sutherland.) 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 ten ATBs Halter will be building for the customer. Also in construction at Halter's was a 3,000-ton crane barge for the Washington State Dam Project, consisting of two 90 x 130-ft. barges to act like a catamaran, shar- ing 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 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 VT Halter is busy with a variety of commercial and government projects. (Photo: Don Sutherland.) 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." Gimme Shelter Our host one afternoon asked as we drove past smaller local shipyards, "see anything interesting?" We acknowledged some handsome hulls. "I mean, see anyone working on them?" For all we knew, the crews were on their lunchbreak. But a personnel shortage, if not altogether crippling to those in the region, has at least had to be dealt with. Along with everything else, the storm created interruptions that could make any yard late, even with all hands 34 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News