On the Ways

After years of testing various platforms and planning for the construction of high-speed, shallow-draft catamarans to carry troops and equipment, the U.S. military will finally start getting new boats built specifically for them.

To be built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., the Joint High Speed Vessel design calls for 103-meter aluminum catamarans that will reach speeds of 35 to 45 knots and provide rapid transit of conventional or special forces as well as equipment and supplies.

The Department of Defense contract calls for the construction of up to 10 JHSVs worth over $1.6 billion. The Army and the Navy will each get five boats, although all 10 will be essentially identical, according the Bill Pfister, Austal USA vice president.

“The boats will be similar to the Westpac Express and Hawaii Superferry’s Alakai in that it’s a standard catamaran with four diesels and four waterjets with a direct drive through a reduction gear,” said Pfister. “There’s a cargo deck and a passenger deck, but it does not have a full vehicle deck with a full passenger deck above. There’s a short cargo bay, living quarters and a smaller passenger area. Above that is a flight deck capable of carrying an H-53, the military’s largest heavy-lift transporter.”

The basic JHSV design was developed in Australia, but Pfister said the design team would soon be working out of Mobile. Detailed engineering will take about a year before construction begins.

The new catamarans will be built in Austal’s new Modular Manufacturing Facility, which is currently under construction. When completed, the facility will cover over 17 acres and be capable of accommodating a workforce of 1,500 and producing six large aluminum vessels a year.

Austal has also been putting the finishing touches on the second ferry for Hawaii Superferry . The owners announced last year that they would delay putting the boat into service in Hawaii until at least 2010, so they’ve been looking for short-term charters. Pfister said Austal has been making some military contacts for Hawaii Superferry because he thinks there’s a government market for the boat. “If there’s a need for 10 high speed vessels – and it appears it’s a bigger number than that – that means it would take about 10 or 12 years to get the last one there, so there’s market for the last one now for probably two five-year charters. There’s serious interest in using the ferry for military charter.”

Austal is also working on completing its first Littoral Combat Ship, the 127-meter trimaran Independence . “It will get handed over midsummer,” said Pfister. “We’ve got an aggressive schedule and a likely schedule. The aggressive schedule says we’ll hand it over by July.”

Pfister also said Austal has continued to work on its second LCS under a fixed-price “continuation effort,” even though the project was officially terminated last year. He said he expects a contract in fiscal year 2009 that will allow them to get back to full-time work on the second LCS, for which they already have a complete ship’s set of materials and equipment.

Regarding the future of the LCS program, which has produced two competing designs (a steel monohull built by Marinette Marine and the Austal aluminum trimaran), Pfister said he believes both will be built. “My guess is that they’ll split the class in half,” which would result in construction of about 25 to each design.

– Bruce Buls

C&G completes escort tug for Moran Towing

Moran Towing Corp.’s new 86′ × 36′ × 20′ escort tug Capt. Jimmy T. Moran began working out of New Orleans in early December.

The tug is an adaptation of a design by Jensen Maritime Consultants in Seattle that was developed four years ago for the Panama Canal but hadn’t been built.

JMC had come up with a 78′ × 36′ tug that “never got beyond the drawing stage because Panama Canal contracts basically said, ‘you deliver two boats for us. We accept them and then you get paid for them.’ No American yards were willing to deal with that,” said Jonathan Parrott, JMC’s general manager.

Then Moran Towing started talking with Jensen about a design for a small tug. About six weeks was spent refining the 78-foot design to meet Moran’s needs, and then Moran asked if it couldn’t be lengthened 8′ to provide more space in the engine room and up forward.

Washburn & Doughty Associates in East Boothbay, Maine, had been the primary builder of Moran’s tugs, but they were booked with work. So Moran started looking around for another yard. C&G Boat Works in Mobile, Ala., had built some boats for Moran, said Parrott, and based on that work C&G got the contract.

One of the tug’s design features that appealed to Moran was the poop deck at the stern. “It makes the boat a little drier as it keeps following seas from coming aboard. It provides some reserve buoyancy, an extra little margin of safety, and additional head room in the drive room,” Parrott said.

In tweaking the design of the 78 footer – now 86′ – a shorter deckhouse was worked into the design. “Moran likes a shorter deckhouse with the winch [a 50-hp, electric Markey DEPC-48]a little further aft from the bow than some other operators,” noted Parrott.

This improves the boat’s escort capabilities. When the winch moves aft, the staple moves back. “The idea,” Parrott said, “is to get the center of the area of the skeg and the staple point as close as possible so if something goes wrong, the boat will snap back into a head position instead of trying to pull the stern around.”

Power for the tug comes from a pair of 2,680-hp MTU 16V4000 diesels hooked up with Lufkin MV1600S marine gears with 2:1 reduction ratios that turn Schottel SRP 1215, 94″, 4-bladed props. That provides a cruising speed of 11 knots at 1,300 rpm and a maximum speed of 13.2 knots at 1,800 rpm.

C&G Boat Works is also building another 86-footer of the same design for Moran. The boat is scheduled to be delivered in May.

The boatyard is also building three other JMC-designed tugs that will all work out of New Orleans.

They measure 92′ × 38′ and are for Crescent Towing . “They are a bit bigger and a bit deeper [than the 86-footers]because Crescent is using the new 6-cylinder GE Series 250 engines, and they are bigger than the MTUs,” Parrott said. – Michael Crowley

Master Boat delivers new 185′ OSV to Abdon Callais

Master Boat Builders Inc., Bayou La Batre, Ala., recently delivered another offshore service vessel to Abdon Callais Offshore LLC. The 185′ × 46′ × 15′, DP-2 OSV is the eighth vessel of its class that the yard has delivered to the Golden Meadow, La., boat operator.

Andre Dubroc, the yard’s general manager, said the new boat is a sistership to the Arthur A. Foret , which was delivered to Abdon Callais in July, so it is also SOLAS compliant and capable of operating anywhere in the world.

Designed by Master Boat, the steel-hulled Pope Benedict XVI is only the second of this class that is SOLAS-compliant.

Tankage for the OSV includes 6,000 cu. ft. of bulk mud in six 1,000 cu.-ft. tanks; 2,350 bbls. liquid mud; and 98,000 gals. fuel.

Twin Caterpillar 3512B diesels, producing 1,500 hp at 1,600 rpm, supply the OSV’s main propulsion. The Cats connect to Rolls-Royce Hung Chin 80″ × 66″ bronze, 5-bladed wheels through Twin Disc MGX-5600 marine gears with 5:1 reduction ratios. Pope Benedict XVI ‘s running speed at sea trials was 12 knots light and 11 knots loaded.

Added maneuverability for the vessel is the responsibility of three Schottel STT-170 thrusters – driven by 450-hp electric motors through variable frequency drives.

Gulf Coast Air & Hydraulics supplied the Jastram split-rudder steering system, Kongsberg manufactured the DP system, New World Electronics handled the electronics suite, and Twin Disc manufactured the EC-300DP controls.

The new OSV has a capacity of up to 40 passengers and crew, with berths for 20.

Pope Benedict XVI is ABS classed, under 100 GT, AMS, DPS-2, U.S. Coast Guard certified, Subchapter L. The OSV Pope Benedict XVI was delivered in October 2008. – Ken Hocke

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