Signal International announced today the option to build a second articulated tug/barge (AT/B) vessel has been exercised by Kirby Ocean Transport Company, the offshore tug and barge owning and operating subsidiary of Kirby Corporation (NYSE:KEX) of Houston, Texas. Kirby placed a $47 million order for the first AT/B with Signal in March this year.
The option brings the backlog at Signal's state-of-the-art continuous flow manufacturing facility in Orange, Texas, has to nearly $100 million.
Engineering, planning and material procurement for the first AT/B is on schedule for manufacturing work to begin in the fourth quarter of this year. Simultaneously, fabrication of the second unit is also slated to get underway before year's end.
The AT/B vessels are comprised of a 20,000 DWT ocean bulk barge with a 6,000 BHP AT/B ocean tug. Each barge measures 480 ft x 90 ft x 36 ft and will be outfitted with Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering's Articouple connection. The 6,000 HP tugboat will be 125 ft x 42 ft x 22 ft built and classed to ABS Maltese Cross, +A1 Ocean Towing Service standards. The AT/B's will transport dry-bulk commodities in United States coastwise trade.
"We will begin hiring in August, primarily in the fitter and welder trades," commented Dick Marler, Chairman and CEO of Signal International. Signal anticipates bringing on four hundred craftsmen to the Orange shipyard. Mr. Marler added, "In terms of job creation, with this contract our employment level will peak around 500 craft personnel."
"The building of the two Kirby AT/B's is ideal for our Orange shipyard which has 450,000 sq. ft. of covered fabrication area, a proven CFM strategy and an experienced management team," said Mr. Marler, noting the contract puts Signal squarely back into shipbuilding. "A return to shipbuilding has been a strategic goal of Signal and we have the resources to be competitive with regard to cost and schedule for a variety of ship and vessel designs."
August 8, 2011