October 20, 2003

VT Halter gets contract for second NOAA vessel

Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engg) today announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has exercised its option to construct a second Fisheries Survey Vessel (FSV) at VT Halter Marine Inc.

VT Halter Marine is an indirect subsidiary of ST Engg..

Construction of the US$39 million) FSV No. 2 is expected to be completed by 3Q 2006.

VT Halter Marine Inc. and NOAA launched the first of four planned NOAA fisheries survey vessels at its Moss Point, Miss.,f acility on October 17.

Christened Oscar Dyson by Mrs. Peggy Dyson-Malson, wife of the late Alaska fisheries industry leader for whom it is named, the ship will be one of the most technologically advanced fisheries survey vessels in the world.

At the ceremony, retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, announced that NOAA had exercised its contract option with VT Halter Marine Inc. to build the second fisheries survey vessel of the same design for $38.8 million.

FSV #2 will replace Albatross IV in New England, which is more than 40 years old.

Approximately 150 VT Halter Marine employees will be working on the two NOAA ships over the next three years. If the additional two planned FSVs are funded, that time span will extend to more than six years.

"Improvement of marine fisheries management is one of the President's four core focuses for the Department of Commerce as well as a NOAA strategic goal," Lautenbacher said. "Launching Oscar Dyson today and exercising the option for the second vessel are both important steps forward in supporting this goal with modern platforms. These ships will provide higher quality data to fisheries managers about targeted fish populations and the environment that sustains them."

"VT Halter Marine's unique ability to design and construct sophisticated 'quiet' oceanic research vessels such as the Oscar Dyson is recognized globally and affirmed by the fact that NOAA selected us for this very significant program," said Boyd King, VT Halter Marine chief executive officer. "The Oscar Dyson is a leading edge research vessel with the ability to conduct fisheries research and oceanography simultaneously throughout the world's oceans."

Oscar Dyson is expected to be commissioned and become operational in late 2004. The ship, which will not replace an existing NOAA ship, will be home ported in Kodiak, Alaska; its primary mission will be to monitor the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska fisheries and ecosystems, particularly the multi-billion dollar Alaskan pollock fishery, one of the nation's largest.

Oscar Dyson is the first of four planned 208 ft. fisheries survey ships to be built by VT Halter Marine that will either augment or replace aging ships in the NOAA fleet. Its capabilities will far exceed those of older NOAA ships. It has been built to meet very specific data collection requirements of NOAA Fisheries, as well as to meet tough standards for a low acoustic signature—-an important feature as a quiet ship won't disturb the fish it is trying to study—-set by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas.

ICES is a European-based organization that has developed a set of standards to optimize the effectiveness of fisheries research and facilitate international exchange of comparable data. Oscar Dyson and its future sister ships will also be able to do heavy trawling while collecting environmental data, a combined capability unavailable in the private sector

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