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HOS Commander

Oct 24, 2013 02:52 PM

A new workhorse for Hornbeck fleet

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Two years ago, Hornbeck Offshore Services sparked a flurry of blockbuster shipbuilding deals on the Gulf Coast when it announced that it planned to build 16 U.S.-flagged DP-2 offshore supply vessels in the 300-foot range at a cost estimated at $720 million.

Hornbeck’s aim was to build big and go deep by putting together a fleet of vessels capable of servicing deepwater and ultra-deepwater drilling rigs in its key markets: the Gulf, Brazil, and Mexico.

Since then its program has grown to include 20 new OSVs and four multipurpose service vessels. The OSVs come in three different sizes; the longest, 10 vessels at 319 feet 6 inches with a 64-foot beam and a maximum loaded draft of 19 feet 4 inches, are under construction at VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Miss. The other vessels, four at 292 feet and six at 302 feet, were awarded to Eastern Shipbuilding, of Panama City, Fla.

James O’Kane, Hornbeck’s project manager for the 10 vessels it is building at VT Halter Marine’s yards in Mississippi.

The first of the VT Halter boats, HOS Commander, is scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2013. It is based on a VT Halter Marine design, HOS Coral, which, at 285 feet, was the largest newbuild supply boat in the Hornbeck fleet when it was delivered.

HOS Commander retains much of Coral’s no-frills, workhorse looks, but its appearance is dominated by the longer and larger cargo deck — 11,863 square feet as opposed to 11,016 square feet. The deck is lined by massive 12-foot cargo rails that are big enough to enclose the capstans, creating an enclosed space along the rail that requires special lighting.

There were other changes, too, as HOS Commander’s design evolved, some caused by the lengthening, some the result of regulatory differences and some to bring vessel equipment in line with what Hornbeck is using on other vessels — notably Scana, Brunvoll and Kongsberg.

“It was supposed to be the 40-foot plug, but it changed,” said James O’Kane, Hornbeck’s project manager for the 10 vessels being built at VT Halter, referring to the initial decision to lengthen the design. “But she still looks like the Coral.”

Twelve-foot cargo rails line the working deck, which has 11,863 square feet of space.

O’Kane, a U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate in mechanical engineering with masters’ degrees from the University of Michigan in both naval architecture and marine engineering and manufacturing, has worked with HOS Commander since the first steel was cut in February 2012. This has meant dealing with a busy yard whose business includes military construction as well as commercial; VT Halter Marine launched a 353-foot oceanographic survey vessel for the U.S. Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command in March and is in the middle of delivering four fast missile craft to the Egyptian Navy.

O’Kane has also been dealing with construction in several different locations. VT Halter has yards at Moss Point and Escatawpa as well as Pascagoula, and HOS Commander was built at Escatawpa and floated down to Pascagoula for the erection of the pilothouse and final finishing.

“The shipyard’s been good to work with,” said O’Kane. “If something makes sense, they understand it.”

As in Coral, the main engines are two Caterpillar 3516C diesels, rated at 3,004 bhp each. But the propulsion systems and controls are now by Scana Volda, which has supplied other Hornbeck newbuild programs. The CATs drive two Scana CP68 four-blade controllable-pitch propellers (Coral’s were fixed-pitch) via Scana ACG 600 reduction gears.

The tunnel thrusters — two bow and one stern, rated at 1,300 hp each — are by Brunvoll rather than Berg.

Another significant change was to mount two Appleton Marine extended-boom cranes for deck work and personnel transfer. “The deck cranes are definitely an addition,” said O’Kane.

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