Boat launches never get old

I was at Leevac Industries on Wednesday to watch the launching of a first-of-its-kind offshore lightering vessel (OLV) for AET Lightering Services LLC, Galveston, Texas. The 187’x46’x15′ AET Innovator was in position to launch when I arrived at the shipyard in Jennings, La., shortly before 10 a.m.

The new OLV was sitting on the launch ways ready to take the plunge while I was setting up my video camera, jockeying for position with all the other photographers.

Understandably, it usually takes quite a while to get everything just right before letting the boat slide into the water. No one wants to see a multimillion dollar workboat go fishtailing into the river or fall over and ride its port side into the water — well, almost no one.

Consequently, if a launch is scheduled for 10 a.m., it’s usually closer to 10:30 or so before the vessel hits its mark, provided everything goes right. At least, that’s been my experience.

Not this time, though. It was just a few minutes past the scheduled launch time when the AET Innovator came rumbling down the ways and into the Mermentau River. I, like most people, like the splash the boat makes when it hits the water, but I almost like the rumbling of the vessel as it slides across the steel tracks as much.

I’ve been to many of these launchings over the years, and I can tell you I’ve never seen one go off any smoother than this one did. Leevac is building five more OLVs for AET and maybe more. “It could be eight,” Bill Merritt, AET’s offshore services general manager, told me after the boat was in the water. Tom Church, Leevac’s vice president, sales and marketing, was standing next to me with a big grin on his face.

Congratulations to Leevac and AET for a job well done.

Who’s next? I’m ready.

About the author

Ken Hocke

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.

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