Hercules Middle East has a new member of the fleet, the vessel, Whale Shark, a 260-ft leg liftboat, was designed by A. K. Suda, Inc. of Metairie, La., USA based on its model SUDA 260-L3. It can carry 900 LTons (911 tonnes) of variable load, including a maximum of 355 tonnes of freshwater, and 102 Tonnes of Fuel—all this on a hull that is merely 11-ft in depth.
The vessel is full SOLAS compliant and has a fixed accommodations for 38 persons. It can accommodate a much higher complement with temporary housing. Currently it is on location with a total housing for 120 men.
Hercules’ management discovered a diamond in the rough in the form of a U.S. Coast Guard approved, small footprint large liftboat, LB Joshua.
The vessel was brought to the Middle East in 2008 after a brief operating stint in the Gulf of Mexico, and renamed Whale Shark. Here it was converted to SOLAS. The flag and class were also changed to Panama and Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, respectively. This allowed the designer to utilize some of the built-in capacity to increase the maximum allowable variable load.
One of the most notable challenges was converting the aluminum deckhouse to meet SOLAS, economically. Hercules hired A. K. Suda, Inc. the original designers to oversee the local design firms in the Middle East to develop the conversion drawings. Engineering to increase the variable load capacity turned out to be more complex than originally anticipated. Suda decided to handle that aspect in its head engineering office in USA.
The following specifications show the transformation in the capacity, after accounting for the increase in weight due to conversion to SOLAS:
Before conversion After Conversion
Fuel Oil (Gallons) 10,580 31,200
Fresh Water (Gallons) 8,800 93,700
Deck Cargo (kips) 800 1,010/638
Water depth (ft) 180 210/180