By Larry Pearson
If you want to know what is happening in the workboat repair business talk to the people who do it every day. So I did. Allied Shipbuilding, Inc. in Larose, La. specializes in repair of all types of workboats. "Today the vast majority of our work is regulatory in nature, inspecting vessels for Coast Guard at five year intervals," said Danny Toups, yard manager of Allied.
That typically involves dry-docking, inspection and often repairs of shafts, rudders and propellers. "Often we get involved in other repairs while the vessel is here…anything from engine or generator replacement down to rework of pumps, motors or whatever," Toups said.
Business is good at Allied, although Toups would like to see more repowering and other types of conversion and complex repair work. Through mid July Allied has worked on 118 vessels up from 84 this time last year and 95 by mid-July of 2002.
The work just completed on Cheramie Bo-Truc #22 is typical. The 166 by 38-ft. supply vessel was built in 1975 and is nearing its 30th birthday. It needed both Coast Guard and ABS inspections and also considerable replacement of hull steel. "Any steel plate that has lost 25% of its thickness, we replace," Toups said.
To facilitate the inspections, the propellers were removed and reground to remove pits and marine growth. The rudders were also serviced. After inspections and reinstallation of underwater components, a blasting and painting of the hull, the vessel was refloated and put back into service.
Desiree, a tug operating out of New Orleans was also on dock the day your reporter visited Allied. The vessel was in for steering work, new bumpers and rework and repair of rudders, shaft and wheels. New zinc anodes were also added.
Allied's work is not restricted to U.S. flagged vessels. In June, they picked up the Timor, a vessel from Holland in Port Fourchon, La. and brought it to their repair facility for repair. The propeller was removed as so was a badly worn rudder. This work was done under the supervision of Bureau Veritas, the regulatory agency overseeing this repair. The propeller had years of marine growth and was ground smooth and reinstalled. The rudder was more of a problem. It was practically rebuilt due to condition and the welds were ultrasound tested and a report given to the on-site Bureau Veritas inspector before reinstallation
Thirty-two anodes were removed and replaced with new zinc material. The emergency generator was removed and inspected.
An owner furnished spare generator was moved on the ship and placed in a forward hold.
The hull was blasted from keel to the cap rail. Two coats of primer, one coat of brown antifouling paint and a top coat of red antifouling paint was applied from the keel to the water line and primer and blue top coat sprayed from the waterline to the cap rail.
There is some larger repair projects out there that Allied are bidding on. "
One of the trends we are seeing is the desire of the vessel companies to add more liquid mud capacity to their boats," Toups. said. Enlarging existing tanks and the conversion of ballast tanks to hold liquid mud represents a lot of repair/conversion work for shipyards like Allied.
When new construction of supply boats falls off like it is doing today, owners typically pay more attention to repair and conversions of their existing fleet. It is this natural dynamic that Toups believes will continue to keep his dry docks active.