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Bonder Delivers Perla-Designed Gaming Vessel, Grand Victoria

Watch City Shipyard, Inc. a subsidiary of Bender Shipbuilding & Repair Co., Inc., Mobile, Ala., delivered one of the nation's largest riverboat casinos, the Guido Perla & Associates (GPA)-designed M/V Grand Victoria. Bender completed the vessel under budget and ahead of schedule. From concept to deliv- ery, the vessel took only 10 months. The 400-ft. by 114-ft. (122-m by 34.7-m)Grand Victoria, designed to replicate a 19th Century Illinois sidewheel riverboat by GPA of Seattle, Wash., was delivered on Oct.

6 and began operation immediately in Elgin, 111. It is one of the larger casino riverboats on the inland waterways, and according to Bender, the largest passenger vessel under Subchapter H of U.S. Coast Guard regulations. Bender Shipbuilding opened Watch City Shipyard for the express purpose of building the Grand Victoria. GPA, one of the largest naval architecture and marine engineering firms on the West Coast and a pioneer in providing lofting services to shipbuilders, provided all engineering support, from conceptual design to detailed construction drawings. Steel fabrication began in January 1994, with the first erection units placed on the specially constructed launchways in February.

Ship construction management was provided by Watch City Shipyard. But since the building site required the use of local construction trades, GPA provided additional services and detail to the engineering design. Part of this effort included all steel lofting for the hull and superstructure. GPA produced assembly drawings for each of the 90 modules. Over 5,000 parts, in addition to stiffeners and plate panels, were nested in the Seattle office where the numerical code for cutting was also produced and sent to Elgin. GPA also provided the design for the building ways and the actual launch of the vessel, which was complicated by the narrow breadth and shallowness of the river. Grand Victoria is double ended with two pilothouses. Six Z-drives, three at each end, provide propulsion and steering. Each Z-drive is connected to a 600-volt, direct current motor capable of developing 400 hp. Electrical power is supplied from four Caterpillar model 3516 DITA JA engine generator sets, rated for 1,440 kW at 1,800 rpm. Propulsion and steering are controlled from any one of five locations: each pilothouse, each shoreside bridge wing, and the engineer's control station. The vessel has 80,000 sq. ft. of total area and approximately 50,000 sq. ft. of casino space with 1,200 gaming positions including blackjack, tables, slots, crap tables and roulette wheels on the upper deck. The main deck includes an additional casino area, beverage and snack facilities, offices, count rooms, surveillance rooms and administrative offices. The Grand Victoria is owned by Elgin Riverboat Resort, a joint venture between Hyatt Development Corp. and Nevada Landing Hotel & Casino. The riverboat operates on the Fox River in downtown Elgin, approximately 20 minutes west of Chicago's O'Hare.

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