2001 Maritime

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September 25, 2001

Tidewater plans $100 million boost for crew boat operations
Offshore services giant Tidewater says it has committed up to $100 million to a program that will bring 21 crew and fast crew/supply vessels into its fleet by 2003.

It is to acquire 12 existing vessels and will build nine new ones.

Seventeen of the boats are to be large traditional crewboats, with the balance of the program committed to the construction of four new state-of-the-art, Tidewater-designed "Fast Supply" hybrids that blend the speed of a crewboat with the capabilities of a supply vessel.

Tidewater's plans to build six of these vessels costing $31 million have been previously disclosed.

Tidewater's crewboat division is the division that has generated the company's highest rates of return over the last 10 years. It currently has 18 crewboats deployed in the Gulf of Mexico with another six deployed off the United States West Coast. Most of the vessels delivered under the new program will work in domestic waters; however, several will be deployed for work in international areas.

The keystone of the crewboat expansion program is the signing of a definitive agreement with privately-held Crewboats, Inc. for the purchase of all 10 of its vessels larger than 135 feet in length. Additionally, Tidewater will assume newbuild contracts from Crewboats, Inc. calling for the delivery of four 162-foot vessels to be delivered in May and August of 2002 and May and September of 2003. Closing is scheduled for September 28, 2001.

The balance of the expansion program is the four 175-foot Fast Supply hybrids. They will be built by C&G Shipyard of Mobile, Alabama. They are to be delivered beginning in October 2002 with final delivery in October 2003.

Two additional existing 155-foot vessels have been purchased recently and added to the working fleet. A final 135-foot vessel is under construction at Breaux Bros. Shipyards and is scheduled for delivery in January 2002.

"This program will quickly take Tidewater to the forefront of being a meaningful provider of crewboat services,'' commented chairman, president and CEO William C. O'Malley. "Just as our ongoing deepwater vessel expansion program has allowed us to address a growing customer need, this expansion will likewise do the same for us in our crewboat division. We expect to fully fund this expansion program with internally generated cash flow, utilizing our existing credit facility only on a short-term basis as needed.''

O'Malley continued,"While we remain fully committed to all facets of the newbuild and expansion program we announced and initiated in early 2000, which was further enhanced by today's announcement, we believe it is prudent to defer any additional capital investments beyond this program at this time.''

Kvaerner headaches continue
Trading in shares of Kvaerner remained suspended as the group announced today that it "now has a financial solution in sight as part of its mission to obtain the necessary short-term liquidity and an extensive refinancing."

For the last several days Kvaerner's board andmanagement have been negotiating with its main banks to gain the needed refinancing.

As a basis for these negotiations, the Board has undertaken a new evaluation of the company's financial status. "Based on this evaluation, it has been concluded that the underlying values of the company significantly exceed its debts. The banks have accepted the board's evaluation as a basis for their further participation.

Kvaerner said negotiations concerning the necessary loan facilities are based on the assumption that a rights issue of NOK 1 billion, as a minimum, will be successfully launched.

The board intends to continue negotiations with its banks today, with a view to concluding final agreements. In parallel, the Group will hold discussions with its largest shareholder, and other shareholders, in order to examine the options for the future development of the Group.

Kvaerner today released detailed informationobn its current debt situation showing that Gross debt as of today's date amounts to NOK 9.5 billion after repayment of a loan to Den norske Bank related to the Stena Don rig. (At today's exchange rate $1 is worth NOK 8.69)
After deduction of cash and other liquid assets of approximately NOK 1.1 billion, net borrowings amount to NOK 8.4 billion.

The group has approximately NOK 0.5 billion in short-term interest bearing assets (mainly bonds) and approximately NOK 300 million in long-term interest bearing assets.

Also, the group's investment in Sea Launch amounts to NOK 1.2 billion.

Net interest bearing liabilities currently amount to NOK 6.4 billion, compared to NOK 5.6 billion at June 30, 2001. "The increase in net interest bearing debt, as predicted in the group's interim statement, is as a result of an increase in working capital, mainly in E&C and Shipbuilding," says a Kvaerner statement.

USCG clarifies security measures
The U.S. Coast Guard said yesterday that "many rumors and false reports concerning the U. S. Coast Guard's security measures relating to vessels, crews, and passengers arriving in U. S. ports have circulated in the maritime community and some news media organizations.  The gist of these rumors is that ships, crews, and passengers from particular countries would not be allowed into port and that certain crew and passengers for some ships allowed to enter would not be allowed to leave their ship. These rumors are false."  

The U. S. Coast Guard is enforcing a wide range of security measures on all ships entering U. S. ports, says a Coast Guard statement, and these measures may include a thorough check of crew and passenger lists and identifications.  For instance, the Coast Guard has long required ships arriving from foreign ports to provide 24-hour advance notice of arrival.  These ships must now also provide a list of all persons aboard along with the advance notice.  This requirement is being applied to all ships (including US flag) regardless of their country of registry, last port of call, or the nationality of those on board.   

In addition to nationwide measures, each Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) may employ any security measures they deem necessary to ensure the safety and security of their particular port. 

"We are coordinating our maritime security efforts with other law enforcement and regulatory agencies (such Customs, INS, FBI, USPHS, etc.), which may take actions that, affect the movement of ships, crews and passengers," says the agency.   

"Overall security measures may vary from port to port.  Any changes in national policies affecting the maritime industry will be announced by the Coast Guard through normal channels and news releases as appropriate.  We are certain that ship operators and the maritime community will continue to work with us to ensure the safety and security of ships, crews, passengers, cargoes and ports."