January 23, 2001

Alliance to pursue offshore fab products
J. Ray McDermott, Inc., a subsidiary of McDermott International, Inc. has formed a strategic alliance with Bay Ltd. to pursue offshore oil and gas fabrication projects using McDermott's Harbor Island facility near Corpus Christi, Texas.

  • J. Ray McDermott will provide overall project management, engineering and procurement services, as well as the assembly areas, lifting equipment dredged slip and bulkhead at Harbor Island.
  • Bay, the largest non-government employer of skilled craftspeople in the Coastal Bend area of Texas, will provide fabrication and construction services, labor, and equipment to support fabrication of large platform topsides at Harbor Island.

Cliff Bell, vice president and general manager of J. Ray McDermott's Western Hemisphere operations, said "One of the main objectives of this alliance is to further strengthen our position in a highly competitive fabrication market by sharing facilities, utilities, equipment, and most importantly, skilled craftspeople."

Opportunities being targeted include:

  • Fabrication of topsides for large floating and bottom-founded platforms.
  • Fabrication of large jackets and compliant towers.
  • Outfitting, integration, modification, conversion and servicing of floating drilling and production systems including:

    • Tension leg platforms (TLPs)
    • Semi-submersibles
    • Floating Production/Storage/Offloading facilities (FPSOs)
    • Drill ships and jack-ups.

Approximately 275 acres are available at Harbor Island for construction activities and material marshalling. Additionally, the yard offers four permanent skidways ranging in length from 400 feet to 1,400 feet and over 1,300 feet of continuous sheetpile bulkhead.

The Corpus Christi ship channel, dredged to 45 feet, provides direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. There are no height, width or turning restrictions between the Harbor Island facility and the Gulf of Mexico.

"McDermott and Bay have enjoyed a close working relationship for many years in the Morgan City area, as evidenced by our joint construction and outfitting of topsides for three TLPs," said K.J. Luhan, president of Bay Ltd. "Our companies will build on these experiences as we move forward together in this strategic alliance."

Bay Ltd. is a worldwide company established as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berry Contracting, Inc. Bay has grown by diversifying into several heavy construction and fabrication service centers to become a major full-service construction and fabrication contractor. Bay's facilities are located on 70 acres in the inner harbor of the ship channel on the north side of Corpus Christi. Its six shops feature more than 450,000 square feet of fabrication area.

Bay has extensive experience in structural and pipe fabrication, electrical and instrumentation installation, and outfitting of oil and gas process modules and platform topsides, petrochemical plants, refineries and power houses. Bay also provides construction support services such as scaffolding and inspection. Bay is nearing completion of 4,000 tons of compressor modules for a Pemex project, and recently shipped over 9,000 tons of process modules to Alaska for ARCO's Alpine project.

SENESCO wins d/h barge order
Quonset Point, R.I., shipbuilder SENESCO has won its eleventh order—and its first for a double hull barge. It is for a 70 ft long barge of 7,000 gallons capacity. It will transport 98% pure sulfuriv acid in Baltimore Harbor between two manufacturing plants for Millennium Inorganic Chemical Company.

Robert G. Homan, SENESCO's president and CEO commented "We think the skills of our welders--many of whom were trained to build nuclear submarine hulls--along with the consistency of our automatic welding methods were the chief reasons for landing this assignment."

Ship managers merge
Ship managers V Ships and Acomarit say they have agreed to merge. V Ships parent company, Vlasov Services Corporation, is acquiring the entire share capital of the Acomarit Group.

The resulting company will operate from a network of 20 offices worldwide and will manage a combined fleet of over 600 ships, served by nearly 25,000 seafarers

Acomarit's group chairman, Giorgio Sulser, will join the V Ships board. Captain Herman Messner is stepping down as head of V Ships ship management division, though he'll continue to assist in the integration process. Acomarit Group CEO Peter Cooney will be appointed head of the combined entity's ship management division, reporting to president and CEO Tullio Biggi.

Justice Department sues Norwegian Cruise Line
The Justice Department has sued Norwegian Cruise Lines for allegedly turning away a blind man from one of its cruise ships and causing another newlywed couple, who are blind, to change their honeymoon plans.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Miami, stems from two investigations that the Justice Department launched after receiving complaints about the separate incidents. The suit alleges that the cruise line discriminated against people who are blind, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In the first incident, the Justice Department alleges the cruise line denied passage on one of its cruise ships to Stephen Gomes, who is blind. Mr. Gomes booked a seven-day cruise through the Caribbean with Norwegian and traveled from his home in Denver, Colorado, to Houston, Texas, to board the ship. When he arrived at the port, the ship’s doctor informed him that he would not be allowed to board.

The doctor explained that since he was blind and would be traveling alone, he would be at risk of injuring himself. The Justice Department says the cruise line later confirmed in writing that Mr. Gomes was refused permission to board because he is blind and he was traveling without an assistant.

In the second incident, the Justice Department alleges that the line discriminated against Robert Stigile and Joy Cardinet, two individuals who are blind, who had planned to spend their honeymoon on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. After they paid the deposit, the cruise line sent them forms to sign.

The forms would have required the couple to acknowledge that because they were blind they were at special risk of injuring themselves and would have to waive any potential future claims against the cruise line. The forms suggested that they consult with their doctor to determine if they are competent to travel and that they purchase travel insurance. Another document suggested that they travel with a passenger who does not have vision impairments. Robert and Joy objected to the forms. Ultimately, the two made other plans for their honeymoon, and lost their deposit.

"People with vision impairments should not be set adrift in society. These incidents are blatant examples of discrimination against people who are blind, furthered by policies based on outdated stereotypes about people with vision impairments," said Bill Lann Lee, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "We need to recognize that people who are blind are competent to live independently, to travel independently, and to be effective employees and participants in our communities."

The complaint seeks a federal court order requiring Norwegian Cruise Lines to change its policies and practices, educate its employees about the need to accommodate people with disabilities, compensate Mr. Gomes and Mr. and Mrs. Stigile, and pay a civil penalty. The Justice Departmentsays it has attempted to negotiate a settlement with Norwegian Cruise Lines, but to date has received no response to a settlement offer.

ILO debates "Seafarers' Bill of Rights" and updated minimum wage
The Joint Maritime Commission (JMC) of the International Labor Organization (ILO) opened a five-day meeting in Geneva on Monday to consider updating the minimum wage for able seafarers, and to fashion a new "bill of rights" for all seafarers on the high seas.

In addition to the minimum wage issue, the JMC is to examine the impact on seafarers' living and working conditions of changes in the structure of the shipping industry which is expanding along with global trade.

Shipowners and seafarers representatives will also discuss a new approach to standard-setting in the maritime field in keeping with a consensus reached in the ILO's Governing Body in November 2000 on an integrated approach to standards. It aims to consolidate the existing body of 30 Conventions and 23 Recommendations into one major framework instrument representing a kind of "bill of rights" for the industry.

The ILO is the U.N. agency concerned with labor issue. The JMC is its only and the oldest permanent standing sectoral body.Seafarers' pay in decline

According to a background report prepared for the meetin*, the minimum wage currently recommended by the ILO is set at US$435 per month for an able seafarer (Seafarers' Wages, Hours of Work and the Manning of Ships Recommendation, 1996 (No. 187).

In absolute terms, average wage rates for able seafarers have declined between 1992 and 1999, the report says. Seafarers from developed countries have been particularly hard hit. In Australia, for example, able seafarers average monthly earnings declined by 65 per cent over the seven-year period, compared to 53 per cent for Japanese and German seafarers; 51 per cent for the Belgians; 43 per cent for the Danish; 49 per cent for the Dutch; 26 per cent for the Portuguese; and 14 per cent for the French.

By contrast, the report notes that wage rates for Brazilian, Bulgarian, Filipino, Indonesian, Latvian, and Russian seafarers exhibited no significant change in absolute terms. Salaries for seafarers from Bangladesh, Myanmar (Burma), China, Hong Kong (China), India and Poland actually increased between 25 and 91 per cent (absolute terms). Some nationalities have seen significant wage increases since the early 1990s, although they are still below the average for all nationalities.

In other matters, the JMC will see the formal launch of a "Decent Work Program in the Maritime Industry." The program already has the support of the ITF. In addition, the International Shipping Federation is also expected to launch its own Guidelines on Good Employment Practice for shipowners.

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