Crowley to Build Four More 185,000 - Barrel ATBs

Wednesday, September 06, 2006
The Pacific Reliance and 185,000 - bbl tank barge 650-1 (shown here) were christened in March of 2006. The tug for the second vessel of this type - the Gulf Reliance - has been delivered, while barge 650-2 is scheduled to be completed and delivered in the fourth quarter of this year. Newly ordered vessels are expected to bring Crowley's ATB fleet to 14 by the end of 2010.

Crowley Maritime Corporation's Vessel Management Services subsidiary has signed a contract with VT Halter Marine Inc. to build four more articulated tug-barge (ATB), 185,000-barrel tank vessels. The new vessels will have an estimated delivered cost of approximately $236 million, including owner-furnished equipment. The vessels will be delivered in six-month intervals between the first half of 2009 and the end of 2010.

The four new ATBs (Pride/650-7, Achievement/650-8, Innovation/650-9 and Vision/650-10) will be operated by Crowley's petroleum services segment as they are completed. These four new vessels will bring Crowley's total ATB fleet to 14, consisting of four 155,000-barrel and ten 185,000-barrel ATBs.

Four of Crowley's 155,000-barrel vessels, the Sea Reliance/550-1, Sound Reliance/550-2, Ocean Reliance /550-3 and Coastal Reliance/550-4 have each made more than 100 successful voyages and moved over 75 million barrels of product with zero spills in the last four years, averaging approximately 21 million barrels moved a year.

The first of the 185,000-barrel ATBs, Pacific Reliance/650-1 was christened at the end of March. The second vessel of this type, Gulf Reliance has been delivered and the 650-2, is under construction for Crowley at VT Halter's facilities in Mississippi and is scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2006 while the remaining vessels contracted in 2005 (Resolve/650-3, Commitment/650-4, Courage/650-5 and Integrity/650-6) will be delivered by 2008.

"We have received extremely positive feedback from our customers on our ATBs," said Tom Crowley Jr., company chairman, president and CEO. "The first 10 ATB's have all been chartered and we are extending the 650 series to meet additional demand for this class vessel as soon as possible. These vessels offer compelling economics and exceptional safety and performance."

Boyd E. King, VT Halter Marine's CEO said, "This contract brings the combined value of Crowley's projects with VT Halter Marine to almost $500 million. It is strong evidence of the solid partnership that has been forged between the two companies."

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 the other tugs 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 electrically driven 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. 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 heavy fuel 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.

Vessel Management Services, which is part of Crowley's corporate services segment, provides technical project support services involving naval architecture and marine engineering, contracting, on-site representation for ship, tug and barge construction and ownership of new vessels for the parent company.

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