BAE secures new commercial contract, christens chemical tanker (Gallery)

BAE Ship Christening

MOBILE, Alabama — BAE Systems today said the shipyard has picked up a contract from Illinois-based Great Lakes Dredge Dock Co., to build two dump scows, a project that is expected to add about 125 workers to the company’s Mobile shipyard.

Vic Rhoades, director and general manager at BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards Alabama, said the contract also includes the option for the shipyard to build two additional dump scows, vessels used to transport and dump sediments acquired while dredging waterways.

The 295-foot-long and 62-foot-wide dump scows will be built concurrently, with completion slated for 2013. The additional dump scows, if built, would be completed in 2014.

The announcement came at the christening of the American Phoenix, a 616-foot-long, 105-foot-wide chemical tanker that BAE built for owner Mid-Ocean Tanker Company LLC of South Norwalk, Conn., a joint venture between private equity firm Alterna Capital Partners and Mid-Ocean Marine, a shipping company also based in South Norwalk.

Rhoades said that the completion and delivery of the American Phoenix, the largest vessel ever built in Alabama, is a major event for shipbuilding in the Mobile area and the construction of the vessel has helped the company secure follow-on, new construction opportunities.

“It was the stepping stone to the return to new construction here in the yard,” he said on the ship’s completion. “Primarily, it’s the precursor to industry acceptance in the fact that BAE can build ships and deliver a quality product.”

Sea trials and delivery for the ship are scheduled to occur in July. The vessel will conduct trade in the Gulf of Mexico on a time charter to Koch Industries.

The christening marks the end of a long journey for the American Phoenix that began when the BAE yard was owned by Atlantic Marine.

In 2007, AHL Shipping Co. signed a $124 million-per-ship contract with Atlantic to build three oil tankers that could carry 350,000 barrels.

They were supposed to be built in modular fashion, with shipyards in Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Canada fabricating components and Atlantic building the hulls and assembling the pieces, but the deal fell apart in December 2009 when AHL filed for bankruptcy.

Mid-Ocean bought the ship closest to completion in January 2011 for $12.65 million through a New Orleans-based bankruptcy court. In April the same year it hired BAE to complete the ship as a chemical tanker. The amount of the contract was not announced, but a Mid-Ocean official told trade publication Tradewinds in 2011 that the tanker needed about $50 million worth of work.

BAE added about 150 employees for the completion of the ship. The shipyard now has about 650 workers.

BAE has also began construction on its next project, the MV Magdalen, a trailing suction hopper dredge expected to be completed in 2014 for Weeks Marine Inc.

The ship will be used to gather sediment in shallow water then load the dredge material into one or more hoppers in the vessel to be disposed of at a different location.

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