LEEVAC Industries to build two lightering vessels

LEEVAC Industries to build two lightering vessels

L EEVAC Industries LLC, Jennings, La., recently began construction on two steel-hulled 187′ × 46′ × 15′ lightering vessels for AET Lightering Services LLC, Galveston, Texas. AET is a worldwide petroleum shipping company that boasts the largest share of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico lightering market.

The timing of the new contract could not have been better. LEEVAC had just delivered the last in a series of nine offshore service vessels for Hornbeck Offshore Services and was ready to start work on a new contract. “The timing has been somewhat good,” said Tom Church, LEEVAC’s vice president, sales and marketing. “We started cutting steel in September, and we’ve got the workers in place to build these lightering vessels to the same quality standards LEEVAC is known for.”

Designed by Elliott Bay Design Group , Seattle, the new offshore lightering vessels will have capacities of 80,000 gals. of fuel oil; 25,000 gals. fresh water; and 100,000 gals. ballast water. There will be berths for 21.

Main propulsion will come from twin Caterpillar 3512C diesels, producing a total of 3,000 hp at 1,200 rpm. The Cats will be connected to 4-bladed stainless steel, modified Troost-style propellers through Twin Disc marine gears with 4:1 reduction ratios. When he was asked about the vessels SSRq speed, Church simply said, “Fast [for a lightering vessel].”

For better maneuverability, each new boat will be fitted with a Schottel STT 170 bowthruster, powered by a Caterpillar C-18 engine.

The new vessels will be ABS classed – Maltese Cross A-1; AMS, MARPOL, SOLAS, and USCG certified.

The combination of the Obama administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling and the weak U.S. economy has forced layoffs at many shipyards across the Gulf. Church said LEEVAC has had to lay off a number of its workers, the majority of which were subcontractors.

The core of LEEVAC’s workers have been helping the company open up its new repair yard in Lake Charles, La. LEEVAC’s yard in Jennings has been busy refurbishing its 3,500-ton drydock that is now in Lake Charles. “The idea is to keep the guys that are here busy,” said Church.

It’s possible that options could be added to the contract for the lightering vessels currently under construction. “With a continuing focus on quality, we are currently investing in a new fleet of workboats and enhancing our shore-side support facilities,” AET’s general manager Bill Merritt said in a statement. “We look to LEEVAC to provide those workboats in the coming years.”

The first lightering vessel is due for delivery in October 2011.




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