Crowley to Build Four ATBs

Friday, August 26, 2005
Crowley's Vessel Management Services subsidiary signed a contract with VT Halter Marine Inc. to build another four articulated tug-barge (ATB), 185,000-barrel tank vessels. The new contract, which includes owner-furnished equipment, is valued at $190 million. Total construction time for all four vessels is 36 months. ATBs will be delivered to and put into service by Crowley's newly formed Petroleum Services segment as they are completed. Two similar 185,000-barrel ATBs are already under construction for Crowley at VT Halter's facilities in Mississippi and are scheduled for delivery to Crowley in the first and third quarters of 2006. They will join four 155,000-barrel ATBs already in service on the U.S. West Coast. By 2008, Crowley will have 10 ATBs serving customers in the U.S. coastwise petroleum trades. The ATB currently under construction and scheduled for delivery in the first quarter has already been chartered to ConocoPhillips under a three-year agreement reached earlier this year. "This is yet another example of our commitment to invest in new equipment and technology to meet the current and future needs of our customers," said Tom Crowley Jr., company chairman, president and CEO. "We are bringing the best available technology to our customers who understand and appreciate safety and operational excellence.

These new vessels will provide reliability, cargo flexibility and environmental protection." An ATB has an articulated, or hinged, connection system between the tug and barge, which allows movement in one axis or plane in the critical area of fore and aft pitch. The four tugs being built under the new contract will be interchangeable with all vessels in the Company's ATB fleet. The 185,000-barrel barges will be substantially identical to those currently under construction.

The new ATBs feature the latest systems technology and double-hull construction for maximum safety and reliability. Not only does the unit have the capability of transporting refined products, but it can also carry heated cargoes and easy chemicals, which require special arrangements of vents, stripping systems, pump components and tank coatings not required of product carriers.

All of Crowley's ATBs are built under the ABS SafeHull program for environmental protection. This program puts the vessel design through an exhaustive review to identify structural loads and strengthen the vessel structure. The 650-Class barges will be 27,000 deadweight tons, 587 feet in length, 74 feet in breadth and 40 feet in depth. The fully loaded draft will be 30 feet.

There is an electric cargo pump in each of the 14 cargo tanks to assure maximum cargo integrity and segregation flexibility; two anchor windlasses and associated equipment to enable the vessel to accommodate offshore mooring operations, and a vacuum system with three retention tanks to easily handle cargo changes. There is also a dual mode inert gas system and vapor collection system for maximum safety. A layer of inert gas covers products in the tanks to make the atmosphere too lean for combustion. An enhanced mooring system features 1,000-foot Spectra-type lines on split drums with a high-speed recovery rate of 100 feet per minute.

The tugs meet all SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) and ABS criteria, and have a foam capable fire monitor; twin fuel-efficient diesel engines; a noise reduction package and other upgrades to increase crew comfort. The communication and navigation equipment is among the most technologically advanced in the industry today.

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