VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Miss., has started construction on the third auxiliary personnel lighter – small (APL(S)) for the Navy. The APL(S) is a new class of berthing barges commissioned by the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

VT Halter was awarded a $77.9 million contract to design and build two firm units of the new class of berthing barges in September 2018, with options for another four. The company expects the first two barges to be delivered in the third quarter of 2020, and the third unit to be delivered in fourth quarter of 2020.

This barge is the first of these four options, and was awarded to VT Halter in February 2019, bringing the total value of the contract award to $118 million.

Attending the start of construction ceremony on June 26 were representatives from SupShips Gulf Coast Region, American Bureau of Shipping and VT Halter Marine. Photo by VT Halter

When completed, the Navy will use these berthing barges to house crewmembers when ships are in port for maintenance and Inter-Deployment Training Cycles. The APLs are mobile and can be towed to new bases or shipyards to support changing fleet requirements and also offer potential use for humanitarian missions and other temporary assignments.

The barges will be 269'x69' and have a 7' draft (82mx20.95m). The barges will be capable of seating 228 enlisted personnel and 56 officers for each meal. Each vessel is equipped with offices, classrooms, washrooms, laundry facilities, medical treatment areas, a barber shop and a fitness center. The vessels are being fitted with mixed gender berthing spaces for 74 officers and 537 enlisted personnel, for a total of 611.

The new APLs will replace the APL large variants, which are 360'x90' with a 6' draft. The APL large can accommodate approximately 1,000 personnel. Several of the old APL large barges were built by Halter Marine.

VT Halter is an ST Engineering North America company.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.