2001 Maritime

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March 9, 2001

FGH headaches continue
Friede Goldman Halter yesterday filed a Form 8K, disclosing "other events" with the SEC. The 8K referred to a March 6, 2001 press release acknowledging that Ocean Rig ASA has commenced arbitration proceedings in London against Friede Goldman Halter, Inc. and Friede Goldman Offshore, Inc., under the completion contracts, as amended for the outfitting of Ocean Rig's two Bingo 9000 semi-submersible drilling rigs. [As reported on earlier, FGH has ceased work on those units].

The Form 8K also says that FGH has been advised by its lenders under its $110 million credit facility that it has violated certain of the covenants in the loan agreement. The 8k says that FGH disputes the lenders' assertions and has been in negotiations with the lenders regarding the parties' outstanding issues.

Meantime, according to press reports, Friede Goldman Halter Inc. has laid off more than 1,000 workers, or 16.7 percent of its overall work force, and shut down one of its two Pascagoula shipyards because of the Bingo disputes. A company spokesperson has been quoted as saying the layoffs are considered as permanent unless the dispute is resolved.

Contract for Harland & Wolff
Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff yesterday said it welcomed the fact that contracts have been secured to construct two RO/RO ferries as part of the Private Finance Initiative for the UK Ministry of Defense Strategic Sealift Program. The yard said construction activity can commence virtually immediately.

The two 14,200 dwt vessels, each measuring 193 m x 26 m, are scheduled for delivery in October 2002 and January 2003.

Welcoming the contract finalization, Harland and Wolff CEO Brynjulv Mugaas, said the ships "provide a platform upon which we shall seek to expand and extend our orderbook."

“Although we shall begin steelwork within the next few days," he said, "the full benefits of the contract will not be felt in our production areas until the summer. We are currently in advanced negotiations with a number of potential customers which we hope will lead to firm contracts being put in place imminently for structural steelwork to cover this interim period.

“After the extremely difficult experiences of the last two years, caused by the ongoing dispute with Global Marine, Harland and Wolff has today been offered a singular opportunity to rebuild and revitalize shipbuilding in Belfast. It is an opportunity which we fully intend to grasp.”

RINA director dies
Giuliano Pattofatto, technical director of Italian classification society RINA, passed away last night after suffering heart failure.

Nicola Squassafichi, CEO of RINA, says, "Giuliano dedicated his life to shipping. He combined a deep technical competence with a real commitment to our industry. He was unfailingly courteous, and a true friend. All our thoughts are with his family, and with his colleagues who will all miss him deeply.”

Giuliano Pattofatto graduated in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in 1966. In the same year, he joined RINA . He started participating in the work of the International Maritime Organization in the early ‘70s within the Italian delegation and chaired various groups dealing in particular with fire safety and passenger ship safety. He was chairman of the Subcommittee on Ship Design and Equipment from 1990 to 1993 and chaired the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) from 1994 until 1999. Under his chairmanship, the MSC carried out the preparatory work for the ‘94, ‘95 and ‘97 SOLAS Conferences and devoted more and more attention to the human element aspects. A memorial service will be held for Giuliano Pattofatto in London. A date will be announced in the near future.

Contract for Blount/Barker
Blount/Barker Shipbuilding, Warren, Rhode Island has signed a contract for under $2 million with Buchanan Marine of New Haven, Connecticut to build a 2,200hp, 85 ft all welded, twin screw tug.

Construction of this vessel will be based on the classic design of the tugs Pathfinder and Usher built by Blount in 1969. This design incorporates heavy power for shallow draft operations in the Great Lakes and coastal ports, which makes it an ideal tug for dredging and construction work.

Bristol Harbor Marine Design and JMS Naval Architects and Salvage Engineers will design and engineer the hull and superstructure utilizing CAD/CNC technology for all lofting and cutting. The tug will be powered by two Caterpillar 3512 engines driving through 4:1 Twin Disc gears. Two 65 kW generators will supply ships service power. The tug will be keel cooled and equipped with two 76-in diameter 4-bladed stainless steel propellers.The vessel willbe equipped with two pushing winches and a 100,000 lb Almond Johnson Towing Machine.

The tug will be used for harbor and ocean towing of bulk material barges. The tug will draw roughly 8.5 feet, which will make it ideal for pushing a 2,000-ton aggregate barge into the harbors of Long Island Sound. Construction is scheduled to start early April with the completion date set for November.

GulfMark to acquire PSV
GulfMark Offshore Inc. says it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a 1982 built, large platform supply vessel, the Stirling Fyne” (to be renamed the “Highland Patriot”), from Stirling Shipping Co. Ltd for approximately $6.9 million. The acquisition is expected to close during the first part of April 2001. GulfMark also announced it had secured a contract for the vessel for one year plus two one-year options at favorable day rates which would result in an $0.18 average annual increase in earnings per share per year (diluted) over the three year period. President and COO Bruce Streeteraid, "This acquisition is consistent with our strategy to acquire niche vessels where we can contract them for longer periods at attractive day rates and have a positive impact on our net income and cash flow.”

Yesterday, it was reported that Seacor Smit has signed a letter of intent to acquire Stirling Shipping.