Not all crew/supply boats work in the Gulf of Mexico. The Mr. Shelby works the inland rivers for Parker Drilling. Neuville Boat Works, Inc. has built two sister ships for Parker Drilling A few years ago Bayou La Batre, Ala. saw its huge shrimp trawler building business dissolve almost overnight. One shipyard that correctly guessed that its future lie in building supply boats was Master Boat Builders. The company started building 145-ft. vessels, primarily for Abdon Callais Offshore (ACO), but today still build for ACO plus a lot of others such as Seacor Marine. "We typically have 3-4 vessels in the yard at various points in construction and we are at a pace where we deliver a supply boat every two months," said Andre Dubroc, owner of the yard. "We typically use Caterpillar 3508's for main power and we are delivering a lot of boats with advanced electronic packages such as automated monitoring and alarm systems plus DP-1 and some with DP-2," he added. You don't have to have a large facility with tens of acres of land to build supply boats. The strength of this building boom has seen many smaller yards with supply boat contracts. Lockport Fabrication is a case in point. Basically Lockport Fabrication builds supply boats one at a time on the banks of Bayou Lafourche with the stern of the boat pointing toward the water. When it is time to launch, the vessel can slide right into the bayou. Following up on the 166-footer Bertha D for Supreme Services, Inc., the shipyard delivered a sister ship Warren Thomas in January 2007. Crew & Supply Boats The construction of Crew and Supply Boats is yet another hot segment of the offshore oil and gas service market. All of the builders of these speedy, all-aluminum vessels are scheduled out to and beyond 2011 in some cases. The emphasis is today on hauling cargo liquids in hull tanks and other cargo on the rear deck. While many of these vessels have 70-85 seats for passengers, the real work for crew/supply boats is the 'supply' aspect. These craft that have loaded speeds in the 25-30 knot range and are often called upon for quick resupply of drilling rigs and platforms located 150 to 200 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. With speeds twice that of supply boats they have been renamed by many vessel owners as 'Fast Supply Boats' and are often used to deliver everything from drill pipe to groceries. These boats often have meant the difference between operating and shutting down or drastically curtailing production. Gulf Craft started building crew/suppliers in the 1970s and over the last 35 years, a constant customer has been Seacor Marine, Inc., and its predecessor company McCall Boat Rentals. For 2007, Gulf Craft will deliver four crew/supply boats to this Houston-based company, including two very unique vessels. The first is the John J. McCall, a 190-ft. heavy hauler that has large capacities for fuel and water and has tanks for liquid mud. The passenger aspect of this vessel has been de-emphasized with a cabin for 36 people. Among its other features are DP-2 certification, three bowthrusters and five Cummins KTA-50 engines with total main propulsion rating of 9,000 hp. At the other of the crew/supply boat spectrum is the Seacor Cheetah, a 149passenger vessel built on a fast ferry catamaran hull for speeds in excess of 40 knots. This design diminishes the amount of liquid cargo the vessel can haul, but it doubles the number of passengers carried (handy in a hurricane evacuation) and offers very fast speed for the delivery of deck cargo. Propulsion power is via four MTU4000 engines generating a whopping 13,000 hp. Breaux Brothers Enterprises of Loreauville, La. has a number of repeat customers including Edison Chouest Offshore, to whom it delivered four 160-ft. crew/suppliers in 2006 featuring a quartet of Caterpillar 3512B engines. It has another dozen in the wings to be built in 2008 and beyond. For 2007, Breaux Brothers will build for other repeat customers such as a 145-footer for Eric Miller Marine, Trinidad; two 177-ft. vessels for Gulf Logistics, Golden Meadow, La. and a 160-ft. vessel for Crew Boats, Inc. of Chalmette, La. C&G Boatworks of Mobile, Ala., has an impressive number of boat contracts to keep it busy through 2010 at least. Its biggest contract is from Rigdon Marine for 10 crew/supply boats of various sizes from 155 to 180 ft. C&G also builds vessels for its own boat operating company Graham Gulf. The 165-ft. Gayla Graham (named after the company's marketing director) is due out in July. Two others at 175 ft. will be delivered in 2008. For several years C&G has been building 175-ft. fast supply boat for Tidewater, typically in groups of four. They have three of these same vessels that will deliver in 2007. As company President Roy Breaux, Jr. said at the beginning of this article, Breaux's Bay Craft is jammed with orders for crew and supply boats, all for previous customers including Tobias, Inc., Jade Marine, Gulf Offshore Logistics, Crew Boats, Inc. and Offshore Oil Services. Most of these companies have signed contracts for three vessels. Breaux's Bay Craft typically builds 162-ft. vessels for its customers but is now building 177-ft. vessels for Gulf Offshore Logistics. Other shipbuilders involved in crew/supply boat construction include Midship Marine, Harvey, La. for Bourbon Offshore, Neuville Boat Works, Loreauville, La. and Swiftships, Morgan City, La. 34 · MarineNews · April, 2007
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