Over the past two years a definite trend has emerged in the construction of supply boats, which are those hardworking “floating trucks” that carry everything to offshore rigs/platforms from drill pipe to groceries. At the beginning of this decade, a 70 m supply boat was considered large, but with the explosive growth of deepwater projects, some reaching nearly 322 km offshore, supply boats have gotten longer and beamier and are able to carry much more cargo on deck and in tanks below deck. Add to this the rough waves encountered in deepwater, which have led to the development of more capable supply vessels highlighted by a major increase in the size and number of onboard diesel engines.
Leading the way in operating these large, more than 85 m vessels is Otto Candies LLC, Des Allemands, Louisiana, U.S.A. Not only is this company one of the founders of the original post-WWII offshore fleet, they are among the leading operators in today’s offshore service vessel fleet, building them through sister company Candies Shipbuilders LLC in Houma, Louisiana. The shipyard began in the 1960s as Houma Welders. It was renamed Houma Fabricators, purchased by the Dutch shipbuilder deHoop in 2001 and in 2005 acquired by Otto Candies, who renamed it Candies Shipbuilders.
During the deHoop years, Candies built several of their supply boats at this shipyard. Since acquiring the shipyard, Candies has built only one supply boat under 80 m, the Olivia Candies, a 62.5 m by 12.8 m vessel built in 2008. It is DP2 fully SOLAS classed and propelled by a diesel electric power plant.
The first boat built at Candies Shipbuilding was the Chloe Candies, an 85.25 m inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) vessel in 2005. Next came the 86 m near sister ships Nicki Candies and Claire Candies. These vessels aretwo of the largest new supply vessels working in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). They have a molded beam of 18.30 m, a molded depth of 7.32 m and the main cargo deck on both vessels is 1000 m2.
“These two vessels have enhanced liquid mud, fuel, dry bulk, methanol, fresh water and ballast water capacities,” said Brett Candies, sales manager of Otto Candies LLC. “It takes a lot of power to haul deadweight weighing 5793 short tons with a volume of 3336 gross tons.” Both vessels are diesel-electric propulsion and use a frequency-controlled a.c. drive. The engines are rated to Tier2 emissions and feature a quartet of Caterpillar 3512 diesels, outputting into 1700 kW generators. Propulsion power is provided by a pair of 700 kW forward thrusters and two Z-drive 1700 kW thrusters aft. All thrusters are by Rolls-Royce, with the forward thrusters using controllable pitch propellers and the aft units using fixed pitch. There is also a Caterpillar C9 diesel producing 250 kW for use as an emergency and/or harbor generator. The main cargo deck is 1000 m2 and total complement of crew and other passengers is 35 people.
A huge switchboard, running nearly the width of the vessel, controls the operation of all five engines, sequencing thefour large engines to start and shut offaccording to the electrical demand. The switchboard was built by Point EightPower, Belle Chasse, Louisiana. The two vessels are also certified DP-2 by ABS. DP equipment is the KongsbergK-Pos system. At the same time they were building the Nicki and Claire Candies, they saw a need for additional, more capable IMR vessels. “Without space to build these vessels in our shipyard, we turned to Dakota Creek Industries, Anacortes, Washington, U.S.A., to build three 89 to 94 m IMR vessels,” Candies added. “The first of the three vessels, Grant Candies has been delivered.”
“Dakota Creek has done a great job of building the boat and shipping it here for final topside work. The Grant Candies had its 100 ton crane installed in August 2009 and is ready to go to work,” Candies reported. “The newer Ross Candies was launched in August. It is slightly larger than Grant Candies with a 50% larger crane and deep-sea winch. A third, yet unnamed, vessel has been started.” “All three of our more recent builds have long-term contracts. The Olivia Candies is currently working in Brazil,” Candies said. “The Nicki is working for Shell on a multiyear contract in the Gulf of Mexico and the Claire Candies left in late July on a four-year contract to the Gulf of Mexico with Statoil Hydro, a Norwegian company operating a DPsemi drilling rig,” Candies added.
The vessels differ mainly in the capacities of below-deck tanks. The Nicki Candies can hold 2410 m3 of liquid mud, almost 700 m3 more than the Claire Candies and about 600 m3 more fuel at 1355 m3. The Claire has a holding capacity of almost 1300 m3 more ballast water at 2308 m3. At 86.7 m, both the Nicki and the Claire can carry more than the typical fuel oil and liquid mud. Both have tanks for 80 m3 of methanol and 324 m3 of dry bulk material.
The Claire Candies is the first vessel in the country to meet the new MARPOL Annex II regulations. “Theseregulations will be in effect for all vessels built after August 2010, but the owner wanted his vessel to have them in place when he took delivery, even though the Claire would be grandfathered in,” Candies said. “The regulations call for all hazardous cargo such as liquid mud, methanol and fuel oil to be placed in double-hulled tanks. Webasically converted the Claire Candies to meet MARPOL Annex II regulations at the customer’s request.”
The shipyard has plenty of work to do over the next few years. So much so, they have given out a contract to anothershipyard to help them stay on their vessel delivery schedule. VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Mississippi, U.S.A.,is building the hull and deck house for an 86.7 m supply boat, a sister ship to the Nicki and Claire Candies. “They will load the deck house on the main deck of the vessel and a tug will deliver that to our shipyard. We will attach the deck house to the main deck and complete the vessel here in our shipyard,” Candies said. In the meantime, CandiesShipbuilding is busy building modules for another 89.4 m vessel and may have both vessels under long-term contract when they are complete.
The next vessel out of the shipyard will be the Kelly Ann Candies, an 85.25 x 18 x 7.4 m sister ship to the Chloe Candies, a 2005-vintage inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) vessel. The Chloe Candies is chartered to Saipem America, a Houston, Texas, U.S.A.-based offshore oil contractor through November 2010. The new vesselshould be ready for charter by the end of 2009.
Both vessels have a 100 ton crane and a 100 ton deep-sea winch along with a moon pool and an ROV for subseaconstruction and repair work. “There is a lot of construction work in the Gulf of Mexico both from new well installation and even some post-Hurricane Katrina work that the oil companies delayed since they were so busy getting their main infrastructure online. We saw the need for another Chloe-class vessel, slightly smaller thanRoss Candies. “We used to be a big player in the spot market, leasing our vessels for short periods of time,” Candies said. “But with the investment we have in these new vessels, we can’t have them tied up at the dock waiting for another job, so we are concentrating on longterm leases,” Candies added. “It may be an old adage, but we are not trying to be the biggest offshore vessel company, just one that has the newest equipment sized and priced for the realities of today’s marketplace,” Candies said