News

Thursday, May 25, 2000
ACL Buys ConAgra Barge Fleet ConAgra Inc., the second largest U.S. food manufacturer, has agreed to sell American Commercial Lines LLC (ACL) its large U.S. inland barge fleet and operations. Financial terms of the deal, which ConAgra said was part of ongoing series of strategic divestments, were not announced.

ACL will acquire 930 owned and chartered barges, nine chartered towboats and one dry dock, the companies said in a joint statement. The deal includes Peavey Barge Lines, Brown Water Towing Inc. and Superior Barge Lines, Inc. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval but is expected to be completed in the next 30 days, the companies said.

Greg Heckman, president and CEO, ConAgra Trade Group, said, "Our decision to sell the barge company is a strategic one. This will allow us to focus our efforts on supporting ConAgra and our customers in the areas of commodity origination, marketing, merchandising, trading and risk management services."

Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra generates 20 percent of its $25 billion in annual sales from agricultural products. The remaining 80 percent derives from sales to food retail and foodservice customers. ConAgra has divested 16 businesses across the organization since mid-1999. Jeffersonville, Ind.-based ACL operates more than 4,300 barges and 200 towboats on the inland waterways of North and South America.

Hvide Marine Reports 1Q Results Hvide Marine Inc. reported a net loss of $12.9 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2000 versus a net loss of $9.1 million in the year-earlier period. Revenues of $78.6 million were down from $90.4 million a year ago, primarily reflecting the year-over-year decline in offshore activity. Operating income in the 2000 quarter was $2.0 million versus $4.4 million in the 1999 first quarter.

"As anticipated, operating results in the first quarter were below our original projections, but were nonetheless higher than in the previous quarter," commented Gerhard E. Kurz, who was elected CEO in April. "We are in the process of turning this company around, and the new Hvide team is determined to meet its challenging goals. These goals include winning new contracts, consolidating facilities and functions, paying down debt, extracting the maximum amount of value from our current asset base, and making our numbers from one quarter to the next. We look forward to delivering on this program in the year ahead."

Turning to first quarter results, revenues from the company's Seabulk Offshore unit fell to $34.2 million from $45.7 million a year earlier, reflecting substantially lower year-over-year day rates and, in certain regions, reduced utilization.

In the Gulf of Mexico, day rates for Seabulk Offshore's fleet of 21 supply boats averaged $3,740 versus the comparable 1999 figure of $4,530, while utilization stood at 71 percent against 70 percent in 1999. Seabulk Offshore's 33 Gulf of Mexico-based crewboats averaged $1,850 and a 78 percent utilization rate against $2,097 and 69 percent a year earlier.

Hvide Marine Towing's revenues declined to $8.7 million in the first quarter of 2000 from $11.1 million a year ago as a result of increased competition in the port of Tampa, continued softness in the offshore towing market, and four fewer vessels than a year ago. In marine transportation, where the company operates a fleet of 11 Jones Act chemical and petroleum product carriers, including five new double-hull, state-of-the-art tankers, revenues rose to $35.7 million from $33.5 million a year ago. One of the company's new double-hull tankers, HMI Cape Lookout Shoals, begins a new three-year charter with Tesoro Petroleum this summer.

Horizon Shipbuilding to Construct Z-Drive Tug Horizon Shipbuilding, Inc., in Bayou La Batre, Ala., has signed a contract with Dixie Towing of Jacksonville, for the construction of a 70 ft. Z-drive tug. The tug was designed exclusively for Dixie Towing by Glowacki Engineering of Jacksonville. Construction has already begun, and the boat's delivery is planned for fall of 2000.

Additionally, according to Travis Short, Jr., president, Horizon recently signed contracts for the design and construction of a 200-ft. single point mooring (SPM) maintenance vessel, and two 155-ft. aluminum crewboats with SLOK Nigeria, Limited, Lagos, Nigeria.

Horizon is currently building a 135-ft. dinner cruise vessel and a series of 28-ft. fiberglass tow targets for the U.S. Navy. The company expects to commence construction of an aluminum survey boat for the USACE in the near future.

ABS Retains Top Ranking With Zero Detentions For the second straight year, ABS has been ranked by USCG Port State Control statistics as the best major classification society, in terms of number of detentions. Figures show not a single ABS-classed ship was detained in a U.S. port in 1999 for a class-related deficiency (www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/psc). This is the first time a major society has recorded a perfect score.

"Our goal at ABS has always been to have zero class-related detentions," said Robert D. Somerville, ABS president. "To have achieved that goal in U.S. waters in 1999 is the result of a tremendous effort by our worldwide team of professional surveyors."

In the current commercial environment, no owner can afford to have his ship detained. And for tanker owners, a high profile port state detention could adversely affect the vessel's future in the market.

Class societies are evaluated on their performance over a rolling three year period by the USCG. With a 0.24 percent three year detention ratio, ABS not only retained the best ranking of all major societies but further improved its performance from the previous year's 0.44 percent average.

Since 1997, the USCG logged a total 2,894 distinct arrivals by ABS-classed vessels. Just seven of those ships -- four in 1997, three in 1998 and none in 1999 -- were detained for a class-related deficiency.

The overall detention ratio for all ships from all class societies averaged 0.79 percent for the three year period.

FirstWave and A&P Group U.K. Form Alliance FirstWave and A&P Group U.K. have formed the cornerstone of the first global network dedicated to marine repair. The alliance between the companies will initially capitalize on the multi-site facilities and expertise of both companies in offshore vessel maintenance, rig repairs and complex conversions.

The alliance will allow both companies to integrate marketing and share project management expertise for the delivery of repair and conversion services for clients in the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico. FirstWave and A&P intend to create a seamless delivery network for marine repair to their global clients.

The main operations centers are Galveston and Houston in the U.S., and Newcastle and Falmouth in the U.K. All facilities have substantial drydock and dockside capacity.

Willard Marine and MetalCraft Sign Teaming Agreement Fiberglass marine defense contractor, Willard Marine, has signed an agreement with Canadian aluminum boat manufacturer MetalCraft Marine to provide Willard with an extensive line of aluminum boat designs, adding to its already successful fiberglass line of small boats and RIBs.

MetalCraft, a major supplier to the Canadian Federal Government, will represent Willard's line in Canada.

The deal was completed following the development and trials on the premiere Hybrid 730 Navy RIB, which was launched by the two companies at last December's Workboat show.

USCG to Issue First Five-Star Rating to Homer Vessel Inspectors at USCG Marine Safety Detachment Kenai and the USCG Auxiliary issued the first Five-Star Safety Rating sticker to a Homer-based vessel during their inspections.

The Five-Star Safety Rating is a new program in Alaska letting charter boat users know the level of safety a particular charter boat has attained. Often known as "six-packs," because of the maximum number of passengers they carry, these vessels are the least regulated of all commercial passenger vessels. Vessels carrying more than six passengers are required to meet specific USCG regulations and undergo mandatory annual inspections.

Last summer, two small, inspected passenger vessels sank in Alaska prompting the USCG to seek ways to raise the level of safety for passengers and crew.

"This is a non-regulatory solution for improving the safety of these vessels," said Capt. Ed Page, chief of Marine Safety in Alaska. "This program outlines a suite of recommended safety measures, and is designed to provide safety-conscious operators recognition for their efforts to provide a safer vessel for their passengers."

"The success of this program will depend, to a great extent, on the public," said Page. "As passengers demand increased safety by choosing Five-Star vessels, more 'six pack' operators will upgrade the safety equipment aboard their vessel to get a Five-Star rating."

BC Ferries Refinancing Plan Announced Joy MacPhail, Minister responsible for BC Ferries, and Paul Ramsey, Minister of Finance, announced a financial restructuring package for the British Columbia Ferry Corporation and a plan to sell the three PacifiCats, the third of which was only recently launched.

"BC Ferries is important to the province's economy, its tourism industry and the communities that depend upon B.C.'s marine highway system," said MacPhail. "The refinancing and ongoing provincial subsidy will guarantee stability for BC Ferries."

The refinancing package includes:

· The removal of BC Ferries' debt of $1.1 billion;

· A permanent, annual subsidy of 1.25 cents per litre from the motor-fuel tax;

· A decision to write down the PacifiCats by a total of $240 million and to offer the three fast ferries for sale; and,

· Plans for the wind-up of Catamaran Ferries International, BC Ferries' wholly owned subsidiary.

"This financial plan is the best solution to provide for economic stability over the long term for coastal communities," said Ramsey. "The time has come to put BC Ferries on a sound financial footing and let the corporation get on with the job of managing our essential ferry system."

The government will introduce legislation this session that will pave the way for the debt removal and the financial restructuring of the corporation, the ministers said.

The decision to place the three PacifiCats on the market was made after the corporation carefully assessed concerns of customers, residents along the route, tourism groups and the trucking industry.

"The fast-ferry project was a failed experiment, and now we need to move on," said MacPhail. "The PacifiCats will be put up for sale immediately." CFI's assets will be sold later this year, after the third PacifiCat is turned over to BC Ferries.

"Our government always intended to divest itself of CFI when the third fast ferry was finished," said MacPhail.

"B.C.'s shipbuilding workers can stand tall," said Michael Francis, chair. "They were assigned the job of building three fast ferries, and they have produced a high-quality product. Experts have cited these vessels as world class, and for that we can all be proud."

"Catamaran Ferries International was created to build three fast ferries," said BC Ferries President and CEO, Bob Lingwood. "It has met its obligation through the hard work and dedication of many people and deserves the credit for building three high-quality vessels."

The third ship is called PacifiCat Voyager. The total price for the construction of the vessel was $102 million. The PacifiCat project created more than 700 shipbuilding jobs and more than 500 indirect jobs in supporting industries.

Additionally, BC Ferries has reacquired former Queen of Burnaby from Victoria Line Ltd., which has sailed the vessel as Princess Marguerite III between Victoria and Seattle since 1994. Marguerite, a similar vessel to Queen of Nanaimo, will be returned to its original name and repainted with BC Ferries' colors before it is available this summer to be used as a supplementary ferry as required.

"This is an excellent opportunity to reacquire a quality vessel made for BC Ferries operations," said Lingwood. "Marguerite has had about $4.6 million worth of upgrades to passenger accommodations and propulsion machinery and fits BC Ferries' docks without any modification."

The vessel was sold to Victoria Line six years ago for $3.5 million and was repurchased for $2.8 million. Burnaby is intended for dedicated service between Comox and Powell River starting in the spring of 2001.

"BC Ferries has had a proud 40-year maritime history," said Lingwood. "We now need to return to the business we know best: providing a reliable, safe, efficient ferry transportation service to coastal communities at a reasonable price. This new fiscal framework will allow us to move the corporation forward in a way that will make all British Columbians proud."

Crowley Awarded MarAd Ship Management Contracts The U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) has awarded Crowley Liner Services four contracts totaling $34.9 million to manage eight Ready Reserve Force (RRF) ships over the next five years.

In total, MarAd awarded 33 contracts covering 74 ships to nine different ship management companies. The contracts have an estimated combined value over the next five years of $1.1 billion. This figure includes the $316.3 million value of the basic contracts, plus expected costs of shipyard work and other maintenance and operational expenses for which the ship managers will be reimbursed.

Crowley will be responsible for maintaining its assigned ships in full readiness status, crewing the vessels and operating them in support of national defense objectives when called upon. Vessels under Crowley management include Cape Lambert and Cape Lobos located in James River, Va.; Cape Washington and Cape Wrath located in Baltimore; Cape Intrepid and Cape Island located in Tacoma, Wash., and Cape Isabel and Cape Inscription located in Long Beach, Calif.

The RRF is comprised of militarily useful ships maintained in a high state of readiness to be activated within four, five, 10, or 20 days of notice from the Defense Department.

Kvichak Building Two Vessels for Hawaii Maui Magic, a 54 ft. catamaran designed by Morrelli & Melvin of San Diego, is the fifth Kvichak Marine Industries-constructed catamaran destined for Hawaii.

The vessel will operate out of Maalaea Harbor in Maui taking snorkelers and sightseers to Molokini Crater. With a beam of 17 ft., the catamaran will be USCG approved for 71 passengers plus a crew of four. Maui Magic, scheduled for delivery in July 2000, will cruise at 20 knots with top speed of 22 knots and will be powered by a pair of Cummins 6CTA diesel engines, driving 28-in. stainless steel propellers through ZF IRM 305A marine gears.

Additionally, Kvichak is constructing a 64 ft. all-aluminum catamaran for Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) of Kihei, Hawaii, scheduled for delivery in January 2001. The cat, to be named Ocean Odyssey, is the second catamaran built by Kvichak for PWF, and will join PWF's fleet for the winter migration of humpback whales.

Designed by Crowther Multihulls of Australia, Ocean Odyssey will be built to USCG regulations for 149 passengers. The 64 x 28 ft. vessel will operate for PWF's Eco-Adventure cruises, which include snorkeling, wild dolphin watching and whale watching tours.

With a cruising speed of 23 knots, and a top speed of 25 knots, propulsion power for the vessel will come from customer-furnished twin Cummins KTA19-M4 diesels. Each engine is rated for 700 bhp at 2,100 rpm, and will drive a Nibral 30 in. propeller through a ZF IRM 350-A2 marine transmission.

Damen Offers Cat Power on Core Vessel Types The Gorinchem, Holland-based Damen Shipyards Group, a world leader in the building of tugs, general cargo vessels, workboats and patrol craft, is offering Cat engines as standard equipment in many of its "core" vessel types.

Damen owns and operates 24 newbuild and ship repair yards in Holland, the U.K., China, Romania and Poland (Gdansk). The Cat engines are offeresd as standard in harbor, river towing and coastal and ocean going tugs in power ranges from 200-2,500 bhp.

Cat engines are also the preferred option in patrol boats, pilot vessels, fishing boats and megayachts, as well as being a preferred option in a new range of inland waterways fast ferries from Damen.

"We have been working with Cat engines since the 1960s and the support of Caterpillar and its Dutch dealer Geveke Motoren bv was instrumental in enabling this company to move from a small, traditional, local shipbuilder into a global leader," said Rene Berkvens, Damen Shipyards managing director.

"Damen has already sold five Cat-powered fast passenger craft 'Waterbus' used on the Dutch inland waterways based on a license from NQEA Australia. We are also expanding our inland waterways fast transport vessel business," said Berkvens. "This is certainly a growth area, with increasingly congested roads throughout Europe. Transportation by water is a fast, efficient, safe and enjoyable mode of transport which does not require massive investments in infrastructure."

Metson Awarded Contract for OSV Metson Marine, Inc., Ventura, Calif., was recently awarded a five-year contract by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Division, for the operation and maintenance of the EPA's OSV Peter W. Anderson.

The contract will be managed through Metson Marine, Inc's affiliate, Metson Marine Services, with offices in Baltimore. Bruce Strong, East Coast manager, has been appointed marine manager for the project.

Triple Cummins Engined Model-Bow Tug Cenac Towing, Houma, La., has made extensive use of Cummins engines in its large feet of inland water pushboats. In April, the company commissioned a 100 ft. offshore tug with three Cummins big 12-cylinder KTA38 M0.

Andreá Cenac's 34 ft. beam and 12 ft. molded depth provides for a spacious engine room even with the three engines set side-by-side. Each of the engines turns into a Twin Disc MG5301 gear with 6:1 reduction turning 72 x 72-in. propellers in kort nozzles, each with its own rudder.

On the aft deck, a McElroy hydraulic winch is loaded with 2,000 ft. of 1.5-in. wire. A pair of 33 ft. by one-in. bridles are attached to a thimble on the end of the main tow wire. Although designed primarily for offshore towing, the bridles can be attached to 50 ft. 1.125 in. Kevlar extensions to make up to the aft end of a barge for inshore maneuvering.

The strong, but lightweight, lines provide for additional crew safety when making up to the barge. A cylindrical bow fender will fit in a prepared notch on the barge stern to steady the model bow when in a pushing mode. The wheelhouse features extensive wood finish including a chart table with a plexi-glass cover to lay over the current chart.

Bisso Marine Contracted for Navigator Bisso Marine Co. Inc., New Orleans, has been contracted to assist in the salvage of M/V Navigator. The vessel sank at mile 865.7 A.H.P. in the Mississippi River. Derrick barges Cappy Bisso and Cairo will be used for the project. Bisso's tugs M/V W.A.B. and M/V Darlene Bisso will tow the salvage equipment to the site, and remain to tender the derricks.

Ellicott Leads Dredging in the 20th Century World Dredging Mining & Construction has named the top 10 technical innovations of the 20th century together with the top 10 marine dredging projects. World Dredging cited Ellicott for its role in three of the ten technical innovations:

1. Development of the cutter suction dredge.

2. Development of the portable dredge by Mud Cat.

3. Development of the bucketwheel suction dredge.

No other manufacturer or designer was cited for as many technical innovations as Ellicott.

Of the 10 largest dredging projects, Ellicott equipment was used in more than half of those named. These included the largest project: Industrial land reclamation in Japan from 1952 to 1980, and the second largest: Construction and expansion of the Panama Canal. Ellicott built all of the dredges used in the original construction of the Panama Canal. Ellicott also supplied the dredging equipment used in the largest dredge mining project, the Steep Rock Iron Ore Mine in Canada.

Townsend Bay Marine Secures Contract Townsend Bay Marine LLC (TBM), a yachtbuilding and repair company based in Port Townsend, Wash., has received an order from Glacier Guides to construct Alaskan Grandeur, a 67-ft. composite vessel, which will be used to carry passengers on adventure cruises in Alaska.

Designed to be independent of shore support for periods of up to three months, Alaskan Grandeur is based on a limit seiner hull being supplied by Little Hoquiam Shipyard in Hoquiam, Wash. John L. Anderson Yacht Design, Inc. of Kingston, Wash. has been commissioned by the owner to design the superstructure, accommodation and systems. Powered by a single Caterpillar 3406, the vessel has a 21.5-ft. beam and is scheduled to be delivered in October 2001.

"This contract will fill out our production facility for the near term ," said Paul Zeusche, TBM's general manager. "Our repair side still has a bit of capacity, but the current level of activity has us searching nationwide for more talented craftsmen to join the company."

Bollinger Building Large Deck Barge Bollinger Shipyards has signed a contract to build a 400 x 99.5 ft. ABS All-Oceans Classed, ocean-going deck barge for McDonough Marine Service, Metairie, La. Construction has begun at Bollinger Marine Fabricators, Inc., Amelia, la., and delivery is planned for February 2001.

The barge will be the largest ever built at Bollinger Marine Fabricators, a divison of Bollinger Shipyards, Inc. Although designed to primarily serve the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil construction market for movement of large fabricated objects, it is anticipated the barge will be used in long distance moves of various large cargoes.

Overall, the barge's loaded draft will be 14.3 in. and light draft will be 3.3 in. The barge will be able to carry more than 2.4 million gallons of ballast water in its 18 ballast tanks, and will be equipped with two, 5,000 gpm ballast pumps to quickly raise and lower the vessel's draft to accommodate its deck load.

New Displacement Power Module Delivers More Power The new high displacement (HD) version of the 3516B power module from Caterpillar delivers up to 13 percent more power, while offering a seven percent improvement in weight-to-power ratio. The offshore power module can be used as prime rig mover on SCR electric drill rigs.

With this rating - 2,150 hp @ 1,200 rpm for SCR service - deeper-class jackups and non-propulsion semi-submersibles can be powered by five 3516B HDs.

Improvements, including a longer crank throw and uprated crankshaft, rods and pistons, have increased engine outputs without increasing cylinder pressure or compromising component durability. The HD engine also retains the same footprint as the current 3516B for optimum installation flexibility.

In addition, the engine's control system includes the Advanced Diesel Engine Management II (ADEM II) modules with electronically controlled unit injectors. The ADEM II monitoring system provides engine deration, alarm or shutdown strategies to protect against adverse operating conditions.

Two New Patents Received by Zodiac Inflatable boat and liferaft manufacturer Zodiac has received patents for two of its innovations, approved per the U.S. Patent Office. The patents protect the company's new hull design for rigid-hull inflatables with an altered transom area, as well as its new welded transom attachment method, which provides bonding of the transom without using traditional adhesives.

Featuring a transom extending between the rear extremities of the tubes, the new rigid-hull design integrated trim tabs, which improve the ability of the boat to plane quickly, as well as canceling out or lowering bucking once the vessel is planing.

The second patent represents both a new design and assembly method for strengthening the attachment of the transom (motor mount) to the inflatable tube of Zodiac boats without a rigid hull. This innovation provides a stronger, more permanent attachment than using traditional adhesives.

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