March 23, 2005

NASSCO delivers second BP tanker

General Dynamics' National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), San Diego, has delivered the Alaskan Explorer, the second of four Alaska-class double-hull oil tankers being built for BP Oil Shipping Company, USA.

"We had very successful sea trials with the Alaskan Explorer," said Richard Vortmann, NASSCO president. "We are now focused on timely completion of the third and fourth ships in the class, which are already under construction in the shipyard."

The Alaskan Explorer will join its sister ship, the Alaskan Frontier, which was delivered in August 2004 and is delivering oil from Alaska to West Coast ports, including BP refineries in Los Angeles, Calif., and Cherry Point, Wash. The third ship will be delivered in late 2005 and the fourth ship in 2006.

NASSCO says the state-of-the-art ships are "the most environmentally friendly oil tankers ever built." Their double hull construction has been designed for a life of 35 years and their deck structure has a life of 50 years, a "robust configuration that will perform at peak efficiency for decades in the rigors of the Gulf of Alaska's waters."

The diesel-electric propulsion system, with redundant engines, shafts and screws, significantly increases reliability and reduces air emissions and maintenance downtime. The ships use seawater instead of oil to cool and lubricate their propeller shafts, eliminating the possibility of accidental oil leaks. Their cargo piping, normally installed on the deck, is run inside the cargo tanks, to reduce the risk of small spills.

The ships are 287 meters (941 feet) long, with a beam of 50 meters (164 feet) and a capacity of 1.3 million barrels of oil.

Once completed, the four BP ships will be operated by the Alaska Tanker Company of Beaverton, Ore., which operates BP-chartered tankers used in the Alaska North Slope trade. Alaska Tanker Company is 25% owned by BP.

Vortmann noted that in addition to the two remaining BP oil tankers, NASSCO has contracts worth $2.5 billion to build the first eight of 12 new T-AKE dry cargo/ammunition ships for the U.S. Navy. The first ship in the T-AKE program, a new class of combat logistics force ships designated the Lewis and Clark class, is scheduled to be launched in May. The program is expected to run through 2010.


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