VT Halter Marine Inc., Pascagoula, Miss., has been awarded a $40 million contract option to build the Navy’s fourth 269'x68.7' auxiliary personnel lighter–small (APL(S)) 67-class berthing and messing barge. VT Halter is an ST Engineering North America company.

The shipyard is currently building the first three APLs. In September 2018, the company received the initial contract to design and build two units, with options for four additional units. Construction on the fourth vessel is expected to be completed in the summer of 2021. The company expects to deliver the first two APLs in the third quarter of this year and the third vessel is due to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The initial contract was for the detailed design and construction of the first two APLs with an option for four additional vessels. Should the Navy exercise all options with associated supplies and services, the total contract would be in excess of $244 million.

APLs — also referred to as berthing barges — are used by the Navy to house crewmembers when ships are in port for availabilities and Inter-Deployment Training Cycles. The barges 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 vessels, which have 7.2' drafts, are 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, barber shop and fitness center. The vessels are being fitted with mixed gender berthing spaces for 74 officers and 537 enlisted personnel, for a total of 611 people.

“I am proud of the talented men and women here at VT Halter Marine who design, build and deliver quality vessels,” Ron Baczkowski, president and CEO, said in a statement announcing the award. “Our engineers and shipbuilders have done excellent work in the design and construction of the first three APLs; everyone here at VT Halter Marine is honored to serve our country.”

VT Halter is an ST Engineering North America company.