National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) reached an agreement with SeaRiver Maritime, Inc. to develop a contract design for a 750,000-barrel capacity, double-hull crude oil tanker. Included with the contract design package will be NASSCO's price and delivery proposal for the detail design and construction of a minimum of two vessels. The SeaRiver tankers will be designed primarily for the movement of crude oil from Alaska to West Coat refineries.
Work on the contract design will begin immediately and will be delivered by September 2003. Subject to SeaRiver's acceptance of NASSCO's proposed price and delivery schedule, the agreement is expected to lead to a detail design and construction contract by the end of 2003. In a separate announcement SeaRiver Maritime divulged
that it will discontinue its inland "River" Fleet operations on or about January 14, 2003. In addition, SeaRiver will close its inland operating offices in Baton Rouge
, La., and Baytown, Texas. Related commercial activities coordinated out of SeaRiver's headquarters in Houston are not affected.
"This decision is the result of an ongoing evaluation of our operation," said SeaRiver President, Paul Revere. "We will be working closely with all affected employees and business partners to ensure that the transition is carried out in a smooth and orderly fashion. We will continue to focus our efforts to ensure that our customers receive safe, reliable and efficient marine transportation." About 200 SeaRiver fleet and shoreside personnel will be affected by the discontinuation of the River Fleet operations. "In addition to severance benefits, SeaRiver will provide career placement assistance to help employees through the transition period," Revere added. SeaRiver signed an asset purchase agreement with Kirby Corporation
for the sale of SeaRiver's owned River Fleet assets
. SeaRiver will sell 48 double hull inland tank barges and 7 inland towboats to Kirby for $35.4 million in cash. SeaRiver's two remaining towboats
and two of its harbor tugs will also be sold, and in-chartered chartered equipment will be returned to its owners or assigned to service providers as a result of this announcement. Commercial contracts and other operating agreements will be initiated, as necessary. Additional details of the sales agreement and contract terms for transportation are confidential.