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Avondale Delivers Navy Ship; Launches Product/Chemical Carrier

Nearly 12 years of ship construction contracts came to an end in May with the delivery of TAO 203, USNS Laramie, by Avondale Industries, Inc. to the U.S. Navy. Laramie was the 16th ship of the T-AO 203 187 class which Avondale has built and delivered since the keel was laid for the first ship of the class, USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187) in August 1984. These commercial fleet replenishment oilers are operated for the U.S Navy by the Military Sealift Command.

Laramie, like her sisterships Rappahannock and Patuxent, was designed and built with double hull sides and bottoms to satisfy OPA 90 requirements. The separation between the two hulls is a minimum of 6 ft. (1.8 m) on the sides and 6.5 ft. (2 m) on the bottom. The replenishment oilers measure 677.5 ft. (206.5 m) long, with a beam of 97.5 ft. (29.7 m) and a maximum draft of 36 ft. (10.9 m), and are powered by twin, 10-cylinder, medium-speed diesel engines. Capable of achieving service speeds of 20 knots, the twin-screw propeller design reportedly provides the vessels with improved directional stability, ease of control and mission reliability under combat conditions.

Signing for the delivery were William E. Watson, Avondale Industries, Inc. T-AO program manager; Captain R.J. Russel, Military Sealift Command, master T-AO 23; and Richard C. Bloom, Military Sealift Command, senior on-site construction representative. Witnessing were Captain David W. Widdon, U.S. Navy supervisor of Shipbuilding, New Orleans; Edward Barrett, Military Sealift Command, Ship Introduction program manager; and T. Shen, U.S.

Naval Sea Systems Command, TAO project manager.

In addition, on May 17, Avondale launched the first of four double hull product/chemical carriers for American Heavy Lift Shipping Company (AHL) of New Orleans. Attending the side launching were representatives from AHL, Maritime Administration, American Bureau of Shipping and Avondale.

This marked the first launching of a commercial double hull tanker in the U.S., designed and con- structed to comply with OPA 90 requirements.

Immediately after the launching, the double hull forebody was floated into Avondale's' 20,000-ton drydock for joining to an AHL existing stern from which the existing forebody had been removed. Extensive enhancements are also being made to the existing stern. The completed AHL product/chemical carrier is scheduled for delivery this September. This will be the first commercial ship delivered by Avondale since 1984.

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