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Shipbuilding News, July 2017

Jul 13, 2017 10:59 AM

Report calls for US to build four polar icebreakers

The United States should build four heavy-capacity polar icebreakers to protect American interests in the Arctic and Antarctic, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The congressionally mandated report said the U.S. currently lacks icebreaking capacity in the polar regions. Building four new icebreakers at an average cost of $791 million per ship would allow the U.S. Coast Guard to place three vessels in the Arctic and one vessel in the Antarctic.

The Coast Guard currently has three polar icebreakers — Polar Star, Polar Sea and Healy, although Polar Sea was removed from service in 2011 and Polar Star will reach the end of its useful life in three to seven years. The 41-year-old Polar Star is the only icebreaker capable of “independently performing the annual breakout and resupply of McMurdo Station in the Antarctic,” the National Academies said in a news release announcing the report.

“For more than 30 years, studies have underscored the need for U.S. icebreakers to maintain presence, sovereignty, leadership and research capacity, but the nation has failed to make the recommended investments, leaving the U.S. ill-equipped to protect its interests, while other nations have mobilized to expand their access to ice-covered regions,” said Richard D. West, retired Navy rear admiral and chairman of the committee that authored the report. 

The report recommends that construction of the new icebreakers should begin in mid-2019, allowing for commissioning of the first ship about five years later and the second ship a year after that. Until the new vessels are in service, it suggests “enhanced maintenance” on Polar Star to keep it running.

The Coast Guard sponsored the report conducted by the nonprofit science group. To view the report in full, visit

Metal Shark, Damen partnering on military patrol boats

Metal Shark has partnered with Damen Shipyards Group to build up to 13 patrol boats for U.S. military allies.

Metal Shark will build the 85-foot Defiant-class aluminum vessels at its Franklin, La., shipyard using Damen’s Stan Patrol 2606 Foreign Military Sale design. Metal Shark also will supply sensors, diagnostic equipment and other services to the partner nations.

The vessels will be built for the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala and potentially other U.S. partner nations. The ships will be capable of performing search and rescue, law enforcement, customs duties and anti-drug operations.

“The Damen team has consistently provided us with outstanding technical support, their designs are thoroughly proven in service across a range of markets, and their global service network has proven to be a very powerful selling feature," Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard said in a prepared statement.

"Metal Shark is eager to begin ... construction and showcase our capabilities as we quickly and efficiently build and deliver these state-of-the-art patrol cutters,” he continued.

The build program is authorized through the Department of Defense Foreign Military Sales Program.

Nichols Brothers launches cruise ship

Washington shipbuilder Nichols Brothers Boat Builders recently launched National Geographic Quest, a 239-foot cruise ship built for tour operator Lindblad Expedition Holdings. A second sister ship is under construction.

The 238.5-by-44-foot ships have 50 overnight cabins and space for 100 passengers. They will be outfitted with a remotely operated vehicle, vehicle microscope and bow camera, among other equipment to allow for up-close viewing of marine life.

The first twin-screw diesel cruise ship is scheduled for delivery later this year, and the second is due in mid-2018.

Vigor building fifth NYPD boat, launches megabarge

Vigor of Seattle is building a 45-foot response boat-medium C for the New York Police Department Harbor Unit. Meanwhile, the company’s Oregon shipyard recently launched a 508-foot liquefied gas ATB barge for the Jones Act trade.

The response boat, the fifth Vigor has built for the NYPD, will reach speeds approaching 40 knots thanks to twin Volvo Penta engines and Rolls-Royce Kamewa FF-375S waterjets. Electrical power will come from a Kohler 9-kW genset.

Vigor developed plans for the high-speed vessel along with Camarc Design. The response boat-medium C is the commercial version of the widely used U.S. Coast Guard medium response boat.

Vigor recently launched the barge, called Harvest, from its Portland, Ore., shipyard. The vessel is the first American-built liquefied ammonia transport barge built for the Jones Act trade since 1982.

A Savage Cos. subsidiary will operate Harvest, which was developed in partnership with The Mosaic Co., a phosphate and potash producer. It will be paired with a 139-foot ATB tugboat built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Washington.

Metal Trades launches first pushboat

Metal Trades Inc. is close to delivering the first pushboat in its 55-year history.

The Yonges Island, S.C., shipyard recently launched Capt. Cooper for Bald Head Island Ltd. of North Carolina. The 50-by-24-foot vessel will push a vehicle barge between the North Carolina mainland and Bald Head Island. CT Marine of Portland, Maine, designed the vessel.

Twin John Deere engines each generating 425-hp propel Capt. Cooper, which has ZF marine gears and Patterson winches on deck. The vessel is built to ABS standards.

Metal Trades has historically focused on barge construction and overhaul and repair work for commercial and government vessels. It plans to compete for additional tug and towboat jobs in the future.

Gladding-Hearn building launch for Southwest Pass pilots

Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding of Somerset, Mass., is building a 52-foot pilot boat for Delta Launch Services, the operating arm of the Associated Branch Pilots.

The aluminum vessel features a deep-V hull designed by C. Raymond Hunt. It will be the fifth St. John’s-class vessel that Gladding-Hearn has built for the pilots group, which is based in Venice, La., and operates in the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River. A sister vessel was delivered in 2013.

The latest boat, at 52.5 feet by 17 feet, will draw less than 5 feet. Propulsion will come from twin Caterpillar C18 engines each generating 671 hp at 2,100 rpm turning Bruton bronze props through Quickshift gears. Electrical power will be courtesy of a Northern Lights genset.

Delivery is scheduled for next year.

Vane Brothers christens latest model bow tug

Vane Brothers has christened its latest tugboat during a ceremony at St. Johns Ship Building, which built the vessel at its Palatka, Fla., shipyard.

New York is the sixth of eight planned model bow tugs in the 4,200-hp Elizabeth Anne class. It is scheduled for delivery later this summer. The lead vessel in the class, Elizabeth Anne, was delivered in January 2016.

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