December 22, 2000

Chouest in join venture to acquire R&B Falcon offshore fleet
Gary and Dr. Laney Chouest of Edison Chouest Offshore have signed a letter of intent with Transocean Sedco Forex and R&B Falcon. It foresees creation of a joint venture that would own and operate the existing R&B Falcon U.S. Gulf of Mexico marine business. Its fleet consists of 34 offshore tugs, 72 inland tugs, 28 crewboats and 66 service barges.

Transocean Sedco Forex and R&B Falcon are set to merge in the first quarter of 2001. The Chouest deal is planned to be simultaneous with that merger. The merger agreement provides for R&B Falcon to dispose of or significantly reduce its ownership of all vessels involved in the coastwise trade.

Under the letter of intent with Chouest, R&B Falcon would receive $80 million in the form of a secured contingent note and 25% of the equity of the joint venture company.

"This acquisition clearly fits with our current expansion plans into the inland and river services market," commented Gary Chouest. "All of our business ventures have one clear goal in mind—to better service our customers."

"The R&B Falcom marine business is a welcome addition to the existing Chouest fleet, as it provides a level of services that the Chouest companies do not presently provide," said Dr. Laney Chouest. "The transaction will accomplish the Chouest goal of becoming a full marine supplier offering a full range of services, complementing its sizeable number of new-generation deepwater service vessels and the remainder of its 'blue water' fleet with a large fleet of inland 'brown water' vessels."

News of the R&B Falcon move follows an announcement earlier this month that Chouest is agressively expanding its deepwater newbuilding and conversion program.

U.S. Navy awards $78 million contract option to Bath Iron Works
The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics Bath Iron Works a $78 million cost-plus-award fee option for Lead Yard Services on the DDG 51 Class AEGIS Destroyer Program. The award is for option year four of a five-year contract for engineering services awarded to the company in December of 1995.

Bath Iron Works, lead designer and builder of the DDG 51 AEGIS Destroyer, will launch its 21st destroyer of the class on June 23, 2001. The shipyard has a total of nine DDG 51 Class Destroyers in its backlog, and has delivered 18 of the destroyers to the U.S. Navy to date.

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