Nichols Brothers Boat Builders

Shipyards struggle amid market downturn

 

During the pre-SMM 2016 Press Conference on June 2, maritime economist Martin Stopford, Non-Executive President of Clarksons Research Services, said this year shipyards worldwide have experienced the lowest newbuilding orders since the 1980s. Stopford said orders of 14.2 million deadweight tons (dwt) were placed as of the end of April 2016. On an annualized basis that equates to 42 million dwt—the lowest annual rate since 1998 when orders were placed for 37 million dwt of ships. In stark contrast, the average number of ship orders since 2009 has been 94 million dwt.

Shipyards worldwide are expected to deliver about 103 million dwt of ships this year and 88.9 million dwt in 2017.

Stopford provided a perspective on the current weak shipping markets showing the average earnings of tankers, bulkers, containerships, and gas carriers have fallen to levels not see since 2003, according to the Clarksea Index. The average earnings per day in late May fell to $8,900 per day. In 2009, average earnings per day were at $22,000 per day.

There is clearly an overcapacity of ships. He pointed to declining trend in sea trade growth, which is projected at 2 percent this year.

SMART SHIPPING’s THE ANSWER
According to Stopford, one strategy to cope with these difficulties is Smart Shipping. The rapidly evolving information and communications technology (ICT) has enormous potential to improve fleet operations and transport productivity. It will play a crucial part in the survival strategy for shipping, said Stopford.

Stopford outlined the Smart Shipping Toolbox, which includes:

  1. New Inmarsat Ka band global systems broadband data to be collected, processed and beamed ashore;
  2. Telematics: Sensors generate digital information about equipment and the ship, making it cheaper and better than ever;
  3. Data storage: Cloud storage makes it easy to store data generated by sensors. That “Big Data” is analyzed to improve performance;
  4. Smart phone-style apps and touch screens: Provide ways to do specific information jobs without the assistance of big computer systems;
  5. Information systems: Provide management with the insight into what’s going on and performance levels;
  6. Automation: Feedback loops allow automation of many tasks (navigation, maintenance, operations, etc.)

SHIPYARD CAPACITY SHRINKS
Shipyard capacity has been reduced by 20 percent with the closure of 581 “uneconomic” shipyards, but ordering levels for new ships are well below world capacity, says Stopford, so shipyards and marine equipment manufacturers are going to face a challenging year. In 2009, there were 992 active shipyards. Now, there are 423 active yards.

Based on the percentage of ship launches in the year by gross tonnage (GT), Chinese shipyards had 37 percent market share, Korea 35 percent, and Japan, 19 percent.

Korean shipbuilders have been particularly hit by the ordering slump. As we went to press, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co., filed for receivership. The shipbuilder could be liquidated or see its debt restructured, depending on what the court decides. STX Offshore & Shipbuilding has been under the control of creditors since 2013. The shipbuilder had losses in excess of 300 billion won last year, and 1.5 trillon won in 2014.

The top three shipbuilders in Korea, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, and Samsung Heavy Industries, have all been hurt by the drop in oil prices as oil majors have cut exploration and production expenditures. All three had repositioned themselves towards building higher valued vessels geared towards energy production after the fiscal crisis of 2008 amid competition from much lower cost Chinese shipyard rivals.

There is expected to be consolidation among Korea’s smaller shipyards.

As of mid-March, the Top Five Shipbuilder by Orderbook Value were: HHI, with $24.42 billion, Daewoo, $19.9 billion, China State Shipbuilding, $15.07 billion, Samsung, $10.47 billion, and Japan’s Imabari, with $9.89 billion.

Cruise ship order book swells to $40 billion
Cruise travel continues to grow and expand at a record pace. This year, 24 million passengers are expected to take a cruise vacation this year, up from 23 million in 2015, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Cruise ship owners are deploying more ships to Australia, China, and Asia to tap into the pent up demand for cruise travel and ordering new ships to accommodate the growth. As of last year, there were 471 cruise ships in service, with 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships scheduled to be deployed this year.

Just last month, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with French shipbuilder STX France to build a fifth Oasis Class ship for delivery in the spring of 2021 for its Royal Caribbean brand, and two additional Edge-class ships, scheduled for delivery in the fall of each of 2021 and 2022, for its Celebrity Cruises brand.

STX France is completing the design phase of the first prototype 2,900-passenger Edge Class ship and is set to start production this fall for a delivery in fall 2018.

If confirmed, the new construction contracts with STX France would swell the global order book to 59 oceangoing cruise ships, with a total of 176,755 passenger berths. The value of the order book is in excess of $40 billion.

STX France says that, when finalized, the three orders will secure the shipyard’s order book through 2023. Overall, STX would have 12 cruise ships on order, tied with Germany’s Meyer Werft for second most to Italy’s Fincantieri, with 22 cruise ships on order. Meyer Werft’s Finnish yard, Meyer Werft Turku, has six ships on order, with the remainder of the order book divvied up between Germany’s Lloyd Werft, Croatia’s Uljanik and Brodosplit yards, and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Not included in those figures is what would be the first cruise ship built in Russia in decades. Last month, Aleksey Rakhmanov, President of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), says the company was to start construction this year of a cruise ship for an unspecified customer. No further details were available.

The market for river cruise ships is just as strong, with 40 vessels on order. In the U.S., American Cruise Line, Guilford, CT, expects to take delivery of the 170-passenger coastal cruise ship American Constellation in April 2017. The ship is currently under construction at its sister company, Chesapeake Shipbuilding, Salisbury, MD.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Whidbey Island, WA, won a $94.8 million contract to build two 100-passenger, 238 ft coastal cruise ships for Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. Set for delivery in the second quarter of 2017 and 2018, respectively, the ships will operate between Baja, Costa Rica, and Panama during the winter months and Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Canada in the summer months.

As Easy as Building ATBs

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders recently completed sea trials on the second of 10,000 hp oceangoing tugs for Kirby Offshore Marine, the coastal tug and barge arm of Kirby Corporation, Houston, TX. The 136 ft x 44 ft tug, Tina Pyne, will be connected to the 185,000 bbl ocean tank barge 185-02 built by Gunderson Marine, Portland, OR.

Kirby’s newbuild plan also includes two 155,000 bbl/6,000 hp Articulated Tug Barge (ATB) units under construction at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, WI, as well as two 120 ft x 35 ft, 4,894 hp tugs being built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. Each tug will be powered by two Caterpillar 3516C engines, each rated at 2,447 hp at 1,600 rev/min, with Reintjes reduction gears turning two Nautican fixed-pitched propellers with fixed nozzles. The Reintjes gears were supplied by Karl Senner, LLC, Kenner, LA. The tugs will also have two C7.1 Caterpillar generators for electrical service. Selected deck machinery includes one TESD-34 Markey tow winch, one CEW-60 Markey electric capstan, and one Smith Berger Tow Pin.

Kirby Offshore Marine is the largest U.S. operator of coastal tank barges that provide regional distribution of refined petroleum products, black oil and crude oil. Kirby grew its coastal marine transportation business through the acquisition of K-Sea Transportation Partners L.P. back in 2011 in a transaction valued at about $604 million. At that time, Kirby acquired 58 tank barges (only 54 were double hull) with a capacity of 3.8 million barrels and 63 tugs.

Already the operator of the largest inland tank barges and towboats, Kirby Corporation will grow further with the purchase of Seacor Holdings Inc.’s inland tank barge fleet for about $88 million in cash.

Under the terms of the deal struck last month, Kirby will acquire 27 inland 30,000 bbl tank barges and 13 inland towboats, plus one 30,000 bbl tank barge and one towboat currently under construction. As part of the agreement, Kirby will transfer to Seacor the ownership of one Florida-based ship-docking tugboat.

Kirby Inland Marine currently has 898 active inland tank barges and 243 towboats, with a total carrying capacity of 17.9 million barrels. The primary cargoes transported by this fleet are chemicals, petrochemical feedstocks, gasoline additives, refined petroleum products, liquid fertilizer, black oil and pressurized products.

Kirby President and CEO David Grzebinski, says “Operating primarily in the refined products trade, these assets will be complementary to our existing fleet and will allow us to continue to enhance customer service.”

TRIPLE-SCREW BOATS FOR MID-RIVER
Over the years, Rodriguez Shipbuilding, Inc.’s triple-screw towboats have won a following operating in the shallow waters where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico. These Lugger-type vessels are designed with a distinctive aft-cabin.

Mid-River Terminals of Osceola, AR, recently took delivery of a new design towboat from Rodriguez Shipbuilding, Coden, AL. With a conventional forward-house pusher configuration, the new 70 ft x 30 ft MV/ Dianna Lynn uses the same propulsion as the Lugger tugs. This is composed of three in-line six-cylinder Cummins QSK 19 engines, each delivering 660 hp. Each engine turns a 66-inch stainless steel propeller through ZF gears with 6:1 reduction ratio. The combination gives the 1,980 hp towboat an eight-foot operating draft. 

Fitted with large windows, the wheelhouse has a full 360-degree view and is set atop two accommodation decks and a half deck that also serves for bridge electronics support. This gives the towboat a 31-foot high eye-level, with full tanks, for working high barges.

Steering and flanking rudders are controlled by wheelhouse levers with mechanical shafts through the houses and connected to the hydraulic actuator valves in the upper engine room.

A set of push knees and deck winches with cheek blocks facilitates barge work. A pair of 55 kW gensets meets the boat’s electrical requirements.

Zero discharge tanks, built integral to the hull, provide storage for treated sewage and all drains. A separate tank handles waste oil.

The M/V Dianna Lynn is the fourth boat in the Mid-River Terminal fleet, all of which are Cummins powered. Owner Rick Ellis said, “We wanted the three engines for redundancy so that even if we loose an engine we still have over 1,200 horsepower.”

The new boat will be primarily involved in fleeting and harbor work, “Rodriguez did a great job and it is a great handling boat,” Ellis added.

BOUCHARD, MORAN EXPANDING FLEETS
As we highlighted last month, Bouchard Transportation’s multi-million-dollar newbuild program is winding down. The Melville, NY, owner is completing the construction of two new 6,000 hp, 310 ft x 38 ft Intercon tugs at VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, MS. The tugs Morton S. Bouchard Jr. and Fredrick E. Bouchard will be connected to the B. No. 210 and B. No. 220. The two tank barges were the first double hull tank barges built by Bouchard,. Both were built as wire barges, but following their conversion and stretch at Bollinger Shipyards, Inc., both will be Intercon, flat deck double hulls capable of carrying 110,000 bbl of oil.

Moran Towing, New Canaan, CT, expects to take delivery shortly of a 5,300 hp/110,000 bbl ATB unit from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. The Sturgeon Bay, WI, has another 8,000hp/155,000 bbl ATB unit under construction for Plains All American Pipeline, with an option for a second unit, and signed a hotly contested order for another 8,000 hp/185,000 for another earlier last month. That contract includes an option for another.

The new barge will have a capacity of 185,000-barrels with dimensions of 578 feet by 78 feet. The tug will be an 8.000-HP unit equipped with Tier 4 engines—believed to be GE Marine—to meet the latest EPA emission standards.

When complete, the ATB will operate on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity,” said Francesco Valente, FMG President and CEO. “This new contract marks an additional expansion of our product portfolio, confirms our ability to win business with new customers in a very competitive market and further consolidates our presence and reach in the U.S. market.”

“This award increases our pipeline of new construction to 10 vessels and provides additional stability to our business,” said FBS Vice-President and General Manager, Todd Thayse. “We are grateful for the confidence that our customers continue to place in our reputation for quality and the strong shipbuilding skills of our workforce.”

Conrad Shipyards, Morgan City, LA, meanwhile, is building the 80,000 bbl ATB unit for John W. Stone, as well as two ATB tugs for Harley Marine Services, Seattle, WA. Conrad Orange Shipyard in Orange, TX, recently delivered the 35,000 bbl Double Skin 315 to Vane Brothers Company. That barge was towed to New York by the Elizabeth Anne, the first in a series of eight 4,200 hp tugs being built by St. Johns Ship Building, Palatka, FL.

Designed by Frank Basile, P.E. of Entech Designs, LLC, the Elizabeth Anne Class tugboat is a close cousin to Vane’s Basile-designed Patapsco Class tugboats, 15 of which were produced between 2004 and 2009. Measuring 100 feet long and 34 feet wide, with a hull depth of 15 feet, the model-bow Elizabeth Anne utilizes two Caterpillar 3516 Tier 3 engines, each generating 2,100 hhp at 1,600 rev/min. Two John Deere PowerTech 4045, 99 kW generators deliver service power to the boat, while a third John Deere 4045 teamed with an Allison transmission drives the chain-driven INTERCON DD200 towing winch.

VectraROBERT ALLAN’S LATEST
Over the years, world renowned naval architectural and marine engineering firm Robert Allan Ltd. Has successfully teamed with shipyards around the world to bring new innovative tug designs to the market. Its latest is the VectRA 3000 Class Tug, a high performance VSP Tractor tug designed by Robert Allan Ltd in close collaboration with Turkish ship builder Sanmar and Voith Turbo Propulsion. The tug is designed for maximum efficiency in the performance of towing, harbor ship-handling and escorting of large ships. Performance has been verified with extensive model tests at the commencement of the design cycle. The unique propulsion arrangement features high-speed diesel engines connected to the Voith units via reduction gearboxes with integral clutches. With a bollard pull of 70 tonnes, the VectRA 3000 form can generate escort steering forces in excess of 100 tonnes. Additionally, the design has fire-fighting and oil recovery capabilities and is fully MLC compliant.

The VectRA 3000 has been designed exclusively for Sanmar to offer as one of its highly successful stable of progressive tugboats for the world market.

The first vessel in the series, the M/T Ares, built for Italian tugowner Tripmare SpA, was successfully launched at Sanmar’s new Altinova advanced shipbuilding facility this past February.

The tug has an overall length of 30.25 m, beam of 13m, depth of 5.1m, and design draft of 6.1m.

The vessels are built and classed to the following ABS notation: ✠ A1 Towing Vessel, Escort Vessel, ✠ AMS, Unrestricted Service, UWILD, HAB (WB), ABCU Fire-Fighting Vessel Class 1 Oil Spill Recovery – Capability Class 2 (>60° C) (OSR – C2).

Rather uniquely for a VSP installation, the propulsion drivetrain comprises two Cat 3516C high-speed diesel engines, each rated 2,525 kW at 1,800 rev/min, and driving Voith 32R5EC/265-2 cycloidal propellers. The engines are connected to the Voith drives through a pair of Reintjes WAF 863 gearboxes and Vulkan composite shafts, rather than using the more traditional turbo coupling. This combination is smaller, lighter and less costly than the traditional medium speed drive system. The electrical plant consists of two identical diesel gensets, each with a rated output of 86 ekW.

Crew accommodations are all located on the main deck level for optimal crew comfort. There are 4 single crew cabins plus 1 double crew cabin, each with an en-suite bathroom. A comfortable lounge/mess area and galley facilities are also in the deckhouse, with galley stores and laundry room located below the main deck forward.

All towing, ship handling, and escort work is performed using a double drum escort winch and escort rated staple fitted on the aft deck. One drum can store 710 meters of steel wire line, while the other stores 150 meters of synthetic towline. For increased operational flexibility radial type tow hooks are installed on the main deck forward and aft.

As in a traditional tractor configuration, the stern is the working end of the tug, and as such features heavy-duty cylindrical fendering with a course of ‘W’ fenders below. Hollow ‘D’ fenders protect the sheer lines and tie neatly into the ‘W’ fenders at the bow.

The wheelhouse is designed for excellent 360-degree visibility and includes overhead windows. The split type console is biased aft to ensure unobstructed visibility of the working deck (including the winch, staple, bulwarks and fenders) during operations.

CARGILL’s PUSHBOATS FOR THE AMAZON
In Brazil, the construction of a fleet of Robert Allan Ltd.-designed pushboats and barges for Cargill Transportation is nearing completion. To be used for transporting grain products on the Amazon River system, the fleet includes two shallow-draft RApide 2800-Z2 class pushboats built at INACE in Fortaleza, Brazil and 20 hopper barges built at Rio Maguari in Belem, Brazil.

Each of the two new RApide 2800-Z2 Class pushboats are 28m x 10.5m, with a minimum operating draft of 2.2m and normal operating draft of 2.5m. The two sister vessels, the Cargill Cachara and Cargill Tucunare, are designed to push barge convoys on the Amazon River system.

During the early phases of design, extensive CFD simulations were undertaken to optimize the pushboat’s hull shape to minimize total convoy resistance.

This work was completed in conjunction with extensive logistics modeling of the transportation system to optimize the selection of vessels for the desired route and to analyze operational drafts and cargo throughput at various river levels.

The pushboats were designed to ABS and Brazilian NORMAM-02 requirements and are outfitted to the highest standards.

The wheelhouse is designed for maximum all-round visibility with a split forward control station providing maximum visibility to the foredeck working area of the tug as well as to the convoy of barges ahead. Accommodation for up to 13 people is provided onboard and a large galley and mess is provided on the main deck.

The deckhouse extends aft over the main propulsion components, which comprise a pair of Caterpillar 3512B diesel engines, driving Schottel SRP 550 Z-drive units. The drives are fitted in tunnels designed to optimize flow while reducing draft. Two identical Caterpillar diesel gensets are provided in the vessel’s auxiliary machinery space located below the main deck.

The corresponding 61m x 15m box and rake barges were designed by Robert Allan Ltd. to ABS River Rule requirements. Additional extensive FEA analysis of the structure was performed in order to optimize the design for minimum steel weight while ensuring long service life during river operations. Sliding aluminum hatch covers have been supplied to ensure the cargo stays dry at all times.

  • News

Cruise Shipping: Up, up and away

 

The cruise industry is seeing an increase in newbuild activity thanks to heightened demand from the Chinese market, and entrance into the ocean cruise market from a number of new enterprises. Beyond announcing its new social impact cruising brand, Fathom, Carnival Corporation & plc is increasing its stake in the Asian market announcing that four of its brands will operate out of the region.

Carnival sees China developing into “the world’s largest cruise market based on surging demand for cruise vacations,” according to Carnival. Under its current plan Carnival Corp. will serve the Chinese market with Carnival Cruise Line, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises (Costa Asia) and Princess Cruises.

The cruise giant ended 2015 by signing an agreement with Fincantieri S.p.A. to build four new ships, including two for Costa Asia for deployment in China. In total, Carnival Corporation has a total of 17 new ships on order and scheduled for delivery between 2016 and 2020.

Carnival Corp. isn’t alone in its Chinese ventures. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) has also announced its entry into the China cruise market—with its first purpose-built customized cruise ship for its Norwegian Cruise Line brand. The ship is slated for entrance into the region in 2017.

The Breakaway Plus-class vessel will have capacity for 4,200 guests and will be “designed specifically for the China market with accommodations, cuisine and onboard experiences that cater to the unique vacation preferences of Chinese guests,” according to NCLH. Furthering its support of the company’s expansion efforts in China, NCLH opened a number of offices in the country in order to support all three of its brands growth in the region—Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruise and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Newcomers enter the market
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is no stranger to new ventures. The billionaire businessman has had his hands in everything from the record industry to telecommunications to airlines.

Extending his reach further into the transportation sector—the Virgin Group operates an international airline as well as trains in the UK—Branson and his group are now entering the oceangoing cruise market with the launch of Virgin Cruises—a joint venture with Bain Capital. The goal for Virgin Cruises is to “shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love,” said Branson after the announcement of Virgin Cruises was made.

Leading Virgin Cruises is CEO Tom McAlpin who is no stranger to the cruise market having previously served as President of Disney Cruise Line.

Since its launch, Virgin Cruises has announced that it has signed an agreement with Fincantieri to build three mid-size 110,000- gross ton cruise ships, with delivery set for 2020 through 2022. The ships will each feature accommodations for 2,800 guests and 1,150 crew.

Virgin Cruises also announced that it has partnered with PortMiami, where the ships will homeport and depart from for seven-day itineraries to the Caribbean.

With the tag line of “Let’s Make Waves,” Virgin Cruises is offering its customers the unique opportunity to have a say in shaping the new cruise line. “Virgin is a customer-built brand that listens carefully to what customers want and then works hard to deliver for them,” said McAlpin. “We are committed to making waves in the cruise industry, and partnering with Fincantieri and PortMiami sets Virgin Cruises up to do just that.”

Meanwhile, a fairly recent newcomer to the ocean going cruise market, Viking Ocean Cruises, a spin off of the Viking River Cruises brand, took delivery of the Viking Star last year—the ship is the first in a series of three being built by Fincantieri for the brand. The two remaining ships, the Viking Sea and Viking Sky are scheduled for delivery in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Lindblad orders two from Nichols Brothers
A merger deal completed last year between Lindblad Expeditions and Capitol Acquisition Corp. III has breathed new life into the Lindblad fleet. Linblad Expeditions, a long-time expedition partner of National Geographic, recently signed a deal with Nichols Brothers Boat Builders for the construction of two U.S.-flagged coastal vessels.

The vessels are to be built at a purchase price of $48 million and $46.8 million, respectively, and will be designed by Seattle-based Jensen Maritime, Crowley Maritime’s naval architecture and marine engineering arm.

“These new ships mark an exciting step in the long-term growth of the company and enable us to capitalize on the substantial demand for our expeditions,” said Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad. The new ships also help mark an important milestone for Lindbland as it is “the 50th anniversary of the birth of expedition travel begun by my father, Lars-Eric Lindblad,” added Lindblad.

One of Lars-Eric’s ultimate goals was to create an experience for passengers that would take them to places no tourists had gone before—and with that trip produce experiences that would help establish an understanding and appreciation for those remote places.

These new ships, in particular, will conduct tours between Baja, Costa Rica and Panama during the winter months and southeast Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Canada during the summer months.

GavinHIgginsShipbuilder Nichols Brothers Boat Builders is no stranger to working with the Lindblad brand. The shipyard built the operators current U.S.-flagged ships, the National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird, back in 1982.

The new 238 ft vessels, will be built with the same explorer spirit in mind, but will be “larger, more comfortable accommodations for 100 passengers,” says Gavin Higgins, Chief Executive Officer, Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (pictured).

The twin-screw diesel ships will include 50 cabins, an outdoor walkway around the entire sun deck, a fully equipped fitness room and Wellness spa; and a number of dining and entertainment facilities. Additionally, the ships public spaces will be designed to provide maximum viewing of the vessel’s surroundings.

The shipyard is hiring 40 additional workers to help work on the vessel, and making additional modifications to its launch system to accommodate the vessels’ length and capacity, says Higgins.

The new expedition cruise vessels will feature state-of-the-art expedition technology, including a remotely operated vehicle, video microscope, and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed for immediate bow deployment to hear and film marine life, such as whales and dolphins.

The ships will also be equipped with a state-of-the-art A/V system for high quality presentations, including National Geographic instruction.

Before the new ships are built, however, Jensen will provide a 3D model detailing all of the structural, electrical, mechanical and HVAC systems of vessels. The full-size 3D computer model will enable Lindblad to assess and confirm the vessels layout and will also help ensure the vessels’ safety, maintainability and constructability.

The first new ship is scheduled for delivery second quarter of 2017, followed by the second vessel in 2018.