2001 Maritime

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April 11, 2001

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Chester yard to be made available for development
An attempt to revive the Chester, Pa., shipyard once operated by Sun Shipbuilding is finally drawing to a close.

Pennsylvania Community and Economic Development Secretary Sam McCullough today announced steps to make the property, located along the Delaware River waterfront in the City of Chester, available -- setting the stage for new investment and new jobs in the economically distressed community.

"Several employers already have asked us about this site -- especially now that it has been designated by Gov. Tom Ridge as part of a new tax-free Keystone Opportunity Zone," Secretary McCullough said. "We're excited about the potential for investment, particularly when you realize how long this prime real estate has sat dormant."

The property -- near Interstate 95 along the Delaware River -- currently is owned by Metro Machine of Pennsylvania. Metro Machine of Pennsylvania is a subsidiary of Metro Machine Corporation, which also operates shipyards in Norfolk, Va., and in a portion of the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Making the land available brings to a close an unsuccessful 1993 agreement in which Pennsylvania and the City of Chester loaned Metro Machine $13.5 million. The agreement in principle with Metro Machine relieves the company of its loan obligations, in exchange for the transfer of real property owned by the company in Chester, Delaware County.

"By acting now, we turn a bad situation into a good one," Secretary McCullough said. "We are confident our potential gain to the people of Chester will far exceed our initial monetary loss. We may even be able to recover a substantial amount of the loan principal through a future transfer of the property."

Before the Commonwealth or a local entity assumes ownership of the property, MMP must satisfy certain conditions relating to the environmental condition of the property and pay any and all property taxes due on the facility.

Tidewater takes possession of deepwater boats
Tidewater Inc. has taken physical possession of its first two anchor-handling towing supply (AHTS) vessels specifically designed and equipped for deepwater work. On delivery, the two 240-ft KMAR 404 AHTS vessels began term contracts at day rates averaging $23,000 per day. Tidewater has also recently taken delivery of one additional platform supply vessel (PSV) and is anticipating the delivery of a further PSV in early May.

The $48 million purchase of the two anchor handlers, the McNee Tide and the Amadon Tide, marks the first physical possession by Tidewater of new deepwater AHTS vessels.

While Tidewater has owned four similar anchor handlers acquired from The Sanko Steamship Co., Ltd. since November 2000,it will not take full possession of them until they come off of bareboat charters in 2003 through 2006. This group, when added to five similar vessels currently under construction, will bring the total number of deepwater anchor handlers owned by Tidewater to 11.

Tidewater also announced the delivery of its newest 220-foot PSV, the Rigdon Tide. The vessel was immediately mobilized to begin a one-year term job at a day rate of $15,000 per day. In addition to the Rigdon Tide, Tidewater is scheduled to take possession of a 240-foot UT 755L PSV named the Bennett Tide on May 8, 2001. That vessel has been contracted upon delivery to begin a term job at a rate of $21,000 per day.

"The delivery of these vessels comes at a time when demand is quite strong," said Tidewater's chairman, president and CEO, William C. O'Malley. "This demand for our new acquisitions at attractive rates continues to sustain our high level of confidence in Tidewater's newbuild program."

Rowan first quarter earnings surge
For the three months ended March 31, 2001, Rowan Companies, Inc. generated net income of $31.7 million, or $.33 per share, on revenues of $193.5 million, compared to net income of $6.1 million, or $.07 per share, on revenues of $127.7 million in the first quarter of 2000.

Chairman and CEO C. R. Palmer commented, "First quarter financial results met our expectations as increased demand for both offshore and land rigs yielded excellent utilization and higher day rates. Rowan's offshore rig utilization was 97% during the first quarter of 2001, versus 86% in the first quarter of 2000, and our average offshore day rate of $58,300 increased by $2,500, or 5%, over the fourth quarter of 2000 and by $15,700, or 37%, over the prior-year period. "

Ventouris goes high speed
Greek operator Ventouris Ferries is entering the high speed ferry industry with a long term charter of two 78 m wavepiercing Incat catamarans. Both will operate on the 122 nautical miles route between Igoumenitsa, Greece – Corfu, Greece – Brindisi, Italy.

Built as Stena Sea Lynx II (033) and Cat-Link 1 (035), the cats will be renamed Thundercat I and Thundercat II respectively. In preparation for its new career 033 returned to Incat Australia's Hobart, Tasmania, facility for a major mechanical overhaul while 035 proceeded direct to Greece from Charleston, USA.

During the summer season Ventouris Ferries will offer up to three daily high speed departures from both Italy and Greece. In addition, from July onwards Ventouris will also incorporate a regular service to Paxi, Albania. The new high speed service complements seven conventional ferries operated by Ventouris on routes between Greece, Italy and Albania.

The Thundercat I and Thundercat II can carry up to 600 passengers and 150 cars and they will offer a three-hour service between Greece and Italy.

London Club enjoys successful renewal season
The London P&I Club has reported a net increase of over one million gross tons in owned, entered tonnage following the recently completed round of February 20 renewals. This brings the increase from the previous renewal to 2.4 million gt, and a total entered tonnage of more than 33 million gt. The Club has 3.2m gt of newbuildings entered in its FD&D class.

Renewals included the return of tonnage from former members Enterprises Shipping & Trading and Leros Management and attracted new members Athenian Sea Carriers, Bariba Corporation, and Mediterranean Maritime.

In addition, a number of additional vessels were transferred into the club by existing members MISC, Norland, Cosco, Tsakos, Avin International, Overseas Maritime Enterprises, Maryville,Sea Pioneer, and Goldenport.

Over the course of the renewal, the club says it achieved an overall premium increase close to its target. Underwriting Director Michael Hill said, "The overall market perception was that increases were required and justified. The club system is certainly still well-funded but, in the current investment climate, these funds could be quickly dissipated."

USCG approval for ARPA simulator course
The Navi-Trainer Professional (NT PRO) ARPA Simulator from Transas Marine has been accepted by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for use in approved ARPA training courses. The PC based simulated ARPA is being used as part of a new training course being offered by Houston Marine Training Services in New Orleans. The first course is scheduled to take place this month.

Transas Marine's simulated ARPA mimics real equipment found aboard ships. ARPA units simulated include those manufactured by Litton Marine Systems (LMS/Sperry/Decca), Kelvin Hughes, and Furuno.

"We are particularly proud of the latest edition to our suite of simulated ARPA, the Bridgemaster 'E' from Litton Marine" noted Neil Bennett, commercial manager at Transas Marine USA. "This ARPA continues the trend in the industry of offering operational logic similar to that found on a PC with trackball and buttons. Each Transas simulated ARPA truly functions exactly like the equivalent real ARPA unit, and in the case of the LMS Bridgemaster 340 and E, can be equipped with real control keyboards interfaced to the PC for added realism. The cost advantage and added training flexibility for training schools utilizing this system are significant, not only in initial investment, but also in ongoing maintenance and upgrade, all of which result in clear benefits to the Seafarer looking to achieve ARPA certification. The key is that by simulating real equipment the student still has the opportunity to learn the 'knobology' and logic associated with the systems they will find aboard ship."