By: Larry Pearson is a freelance writer based in Metaire, Louisiana, U.S.A.
While there is still plenty of supply boat new construction, much of it is the completion of multi-boat contracts awarded a couple of years ago. Today the “buzz” is the total rebuilding of existing vessels. Engine repowers, in many cases, are completed in order to increase fuel economy and/or cut emissions. But there are other reasons. For the family-owned and operated L & M BOTRUC Rental Inc. (literally meaning boat truck), located in Galliano, Louisiana, U.S.A., it is a lot more personal than that. “The repower and modernization of the C-TRUC 6, 7 and 8 vessels represents an investment in the future of this company, so that the next generation will have modern and competitive vessels to carry this company forward,” said Pat Pitre, vice president of the company.
L & M BOTRUC was founded in 1948, near the beginning of the offshore oil and gas industry. Currently, the company has 14 supply boats that work in the Gulf of Mexico. The three supply boats being renovated were built in 1982 for Seacor Marine and purchased by BOTRUC from a bank in 2001. The first rework was completed on C-TRUC 7 in early November 2009. “We are hoping to have all three complete by mid-2010,” Pitre added.
The work is being done by Bollinger Shipyards, at its Larose, Louisiana, repair facility. “We loaded the vessel onto one of our many dry docks, raised the dock even with the land and pulled the vessel onshore with a multi-segment low-boy trailer underneath the keel,” said Robert Socha, market and sales manager for Bollinger. “This shipyard specializes in repair and renovation work, so it was natural to do this three boat project in Larose,” Socha added.
As this was being done, Bollinger was building a 9.1 m long by 12.2 m wide mid-body section in one of their fabrication sheds. The vessel was cut in half on land and the mid-body section inserted at approximately midship, lengthening C-TRUC 7 from 52 to 61 m.
Midbody sections do double duty. They increase the amount of cargo deck area and increase hauling capacity in the hull. In the case of C-TRUC 7, the extra space was used to increase the size of the liquid mud capacity and upgrade the amount of dry bulk that can be carried.
Before, the vessel could hold 1568 barrels of liquid mud and 44.4 m3 of dry bulk. Now there are 3420 barrels of liquid mud and 119 m3 of bulk. Also, the compressed air system was upgraded to a 5.65 bar system. According to Pitre, “Repowering was a major part of this project. The Detroit Diesels had been powering this boat since it was built in 1982. The Detroit Diesel GM 16V149NA needed upgrading and we chose Cummins’ QSK 50-M rated at 1600 hp [1193 kW], an increase of 600 hp [447 kW] per engine over what we replaced.”
Also added were new exhaust stacks along with the distinctive surrounds that rise above the main deck aft of amidships. The Twin Disc gears were also replaced, as were the propellers to 213.4 mm by 162.6 mm stainless-steel models. The propulsion changes included repowering the bow thruster with a 559 kW Cummins QSK 19-M diesel engine replacing a GM8V71. The GM8V71 electrical generators rated at 99 kW each were not replaced.
Also, the fuel tanks and potable water tanks were unchanged at 251 730 and 43 267 L, respectively. “To keep us competitive, we added a DP-1 system to the vessel,” said Pitre. EMI, a New Orleans, Louisiana-based company, supplied the system. The pilothouse and the accommodations area were not changed, except for adding the DP-1 system controls and throttle controls for the main engines and bowthruster to the wheelhouse console. Next up is C-TRUC 8, followed by CTRUC 6. Both will have identical upgrades as C-TRUC 7 and, as noted above, the third vessel should be done by mid-2010.
The company is not quiet on the new building front either. A pair of 73 m by 17.1 m DP-2 vessels is now under construction for 2011 delivery, so future generations will have a modern fleet with features customers want. L & M BOTRUC also owns and operates Express Weld LLC and Express Supply & Steel, companies that sell steel and offshore equipment and supplies.