Maritime Memos                                                                                    January 2010


CRIMSON SHIPPING'S CRIMSON CLOVER IN HAITI

Another US-flag operator doing its bit in Haiti is Mobile's Crimson Shipping, whose 6,200-dwt warehouse barge Crimson Clover was the first US-flag commercial vessel to get there: she is working under the aegis of the Coast Guard, transferring a load of wheat and vegetable oil.  Two more of Crimson's warehouse barges are now also working the Haiti problem.  January 31, 2010.

CROWLEY, SEACOR BRING RELIEF TO HAITI AHEAD OF MSC AND MARAD

Cargo is moving through Port-au-Prince again, thanks to the efforts of Crowley and Seacor.  Read Crowley's story here and Seacor's here.  Meanwhile, 18 days after the earthquake, MARAD's Cape May should be arriving today and the first of two crane ships, the Cornhusker State, should arrive tomorrow.  The first high-speed ferry, Huakai, is on the way, but the Alakai is still in Norfolk.  On the MSC front, the hospital ship USNS Comfort, (T-AH 20), got there on the 20th, the prepositioning ship USNS 1LT Jack Lummus, (T-AK 3011), is now there and the USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams, (T-AK 3009), is loading.  MSC has also sent an oiler, the USNS Big Horn, (T-AO 198), a rescue and salvage ship, the USNS Grasp, (T-ARS 51), a survey ship, the USNS Henson, (T-AGS 63), and a fleet supply ship, the USNS Sacagawea, (T-AKE 2).  January 30, 2010, revised to eliminate some confusion on my part, February 1, 2010.

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT NORTHROP GRUMMAN? - PART 2

Following, in no particular order, are some of the thoughts received from readers.

A.  One possible solution would be to utilize local expertise in lieu of SupShip.  My company was doing some of the work for SupShip in the late 90's and we were ensuring quality work from NG at a much reduced cost to the Navy.  This arrangement was terminated as part of the Clinton cuts to the DoD budget. The Mississippi Gulf Coast is home to a lot of shipbuilding expertise.  I personally know quite a few highly qualified and highly motivated people that would be available on a consulting basis.  With the proper oversight NG would HAVE to produce a quality product.

B.  As you know, we supply equipment and systems to both companies and we see the vast difference between the two companies. The correct answer lies in your 4th bullet point. "Require them to hire a truly expert shipbuilder to advise their on-site management, as GD has done with Daewoo at NASSCO.  There would be a lot of yelling and screaming about security concerns, but that's really a lot of BS.  A bigger problem would be arrogant managers refusing to listen to the experts, so there would need to be a procedure for the consultants to report independently." The wrong answer would be to get the Navy or DoD involved since the bureaucracy of the Navy is part of the problem. BIW and Nassco have learned how to better manage the Navy but they still do a lot of damage.

C  Maybe turning the lights out at NG Shipbuilding might be the best thing for all of us

D.  Spinning off each of the 3 shipyards wont work, as NG or another defense contractor would simply buy them individually, re-combine them,  and recreate the same problem we already have.  I think it also fails to address the larger problem, namely the lack of competition in shipbuilding.  The shipbuilding budget has become a jobs program for NG and GD the number of ships we build is based on the budget as well as the amount of work they need.  So effectively there is no competition and hence no motivation for them to work more efficiently.  As an extension of that thought why are we paying a profit to NG and GD if that business is guaranteed?  If the business isnt taking any risks (i.e. the possibility of failure), why should they be rewarded with a profit?  As you might imagine, Im in favor of option 2 nationalize them.  Of course they will scream about how the cost will increase even more if the government runs the shipyards, blah, etc BS.  It wasnt that long ago we had some pretty good government-run shipyards.  Of course the problem is what do you do with GD?  I think they have to be nationalized as well here is my rationale.  As a nation we are saying we need to maintain a certain level of shipbuilding capacity.  So if that work is going to be guaranteed, transfer the facilities to the government.  Is that unfair to GD?  Not really.  What is unfair is paying them a profit when they have no risk whatsoever.  If they want to earn a profit, fine, then compete for commercial ships.

E.  Modify their current contracts and require all future contracts to include significant penalties for failure to achieve specific improvements in cost and schedule performance.  Rewards for exceeding the goals would be ok too, of course and a clause that would not let them declare bankruptcy without forfeiting substantial company stock.

F.  I don't know if it adds to or detracts from quality at NGSB, but I think they have broken with tradition on some of the official testing.  They have what is called the Combined Test Team (CTT), in addition to the typical SUPSHIP inspectors.  CTT can represent the government on tests just like SUPSHIP can.  CTT seems to be mainly contractors.  CTT members have been employees of other NG companies (not NGSB), but I don't know how many have fallen into this category.  I think SUPSHIP also has contractors, so I'm not sure what the difference is.  Things might be worse without CTT.  Maybe they'd be even better with CTT only and no SUPSHIP.

G.  The duopoly of Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics has to be broken up.  General competitive theory indicates that if a single customer or single
supplier has more than about 20% of the market share, then the market will get distorted.  There is plenty of blame to spread to the government and to the companies themselves.  In the case of the government, the design/acquisition process needs to be straightened out.  Second, the DOD must get the idea in its head that it is really only a medium sized, mediocre ship operator.  That will set the stage for a passionate drive to improve.  For the shipyards, this has been a case of the "regulated doing the regulating" and that needs to be stopped.  There are a few items to get them back on track:
1.  Hire the big South Korean shipyards, or better yet Apple, Inc. to run the management.
2.  Enact a rule that no more than 50% of the business of the company may be government contracting.  If it is more than 50%, especially year in and year
out, then it should be a government entity.
3.  Drop the "build US" requirement.  Politics aside, this will increase the competitiveness of the marketplace.
But this is so easy...afraid not.  It will be hard enough for sober and dedicated reformers with freedom to get done what needs to get done.  It will be impossible when politics get involved.  When politics are added to the mix, we will see the "build US" requirement stay.  That leaves two items:
1.  Hire the big South Korean shipyards (or Apple) to run the management.
2.  Restrict the business content to less than 50% government supply.
The first will be difficult, if not impossible, unless it is well thought out and involves a capital investment plan, free reign to realign the workers and free reign to realign the design/build process.  GD is on the right track in San Diego, but it needs to be extended.  The second will be difficult because the companies will fight it.  If the general public does not fundamentally oppose it, then government should not oppose it.  I can see the companies on such an intense lobby effort as to sway every politician, government staff, consultant, supplier, laborer and public citizen to back away from such a idea.  They will also probably be joined in sympathy by Blackwater/Xe, Lockheed-Martin and almost every other defense contractor out there.  Back to the DOD being a medium sized, mediocre ship owner.  This is a significant consideration because the Owner/Operator is usually near the top of the food chain in commercial world.  In the DOD's case, the DOD has managed to partner to the point that it is lower in the food chain than the principal suppliers of weapons systems and ships.  I don't know where to begin on being a backseat navigator.
 

H.  It has been known for years by government engineers that these companies are nothing but criminals, but all management is concerned about is the bottom line, and typically doing it right costs more money.  You list a few possible solutions, but the most viable solution and the best solution for the most efficient use of tax payer money is to remove the contractor's from the equation. The contractors are the problem because they have to show a profit so they end up cutting corners in order to fatten the bottom line.  The Federal government (Specifically DOD and Homeland Security) should be responsible for building their own assets. Government built WWII vintage ships are still in use in the Navy and Coast Guard fleets, and in a lot of cases work better than they boats currently being build to replace them. It will take a good deal of money to bring the yards up to speed again after the damage done to them by private industry, but in the end your quality and service life of the vessels will sky rocket.
 

I.  The consequences of NG's failure to manage its product effectively unfortunately will be felt throughout the US shipbuilding industry and all Defense Contractors. There is egg on not only NG's face, but NAVSEA's & ABS's as well. While many other Defense Shipbuilders have been making strides forward towards competing at an international level, NG has now not only set back itself, but an entire industry. The DOD will absolutely make sure that there is more oversight by the Navy and companies that have continued to build better ships with better management will now be babysat. Would it be in NG's  best interest to follow the examples set by its competitors by seeking advice from a world class foreign shipyard? Of course it would, but that should be a decision left up to NG. The Govt. requiring NG to seek outside guidance from a foreign shipyard would be presented to the public showing our own Govts lack of faith in our own industries and, yes, the uprising of citizens screaming about the security risks at stake, which I agree is BS. The best bet for the Govt and NG is to take major setbacks like this as a failure to build to contract standards and require them to pay the penalties associated with that. This will undoubtedly be a standard that is reverberated throughout all defense shipbuilders, but the companies that have been building great ships should have no problem meeting the challenge that is now set before them. It is now the Govts responsibility to not make an example out of an entire industry, but instead treat this as a localized incident while maintaining is confidence in it's other Defense Contractors.

QDR: DOD WILL NOT PROP UP POORLY MANAGED COMPANIES

Defense News reports that the recently released but not published draft QDR has some strong words about "sunset industries" and "poor business models".  This represents quite a significant change in policy but it remains to be seen whether or not they will actually do anything drastic.  Read the story hereJanuary 28, 2010.

AUSTAL GETS TWO MORE JHSVS

The Navy has exercised an option on its contract with Austal USA for the second and third JHSVs.  Read the DefenseLink announcement hereJanuary 28, 2010.

MORE ON THE MSC AND RRF MOBILIZATION FOR HAITI

One of the two crane ships, the Cornhusker State, sailed yesterday: the other, the Gopher State, is said to be going to sail tomorrow.  A second prepositioning ship, the PFC DeWayne T. Williams, is apparently now loading.  And a bunch of the new INLS equipment is being deployed.  I hope we can soon see some photographs of it in action.  January 28, 2010.

LCS RFP

Magically, I found a copy of the LCS RFP in the back of the bus going to work this morning.  Read it hereJanuary 28, 2010.

TANKER ADRIFT?

I can clearly see the 47,000-dwt product carrier Maersk Matsuyama out there in the Gulf Stream, moving north at no more than about two knots.  The thing is, however, that it's moving sideways and has been for about an hour and a half now.   Is this some new way of saving fuel?  January 28, 2010, 0900 hrs.  Further investigation reveals that she has a cargo of jet fuel and is waiting for a berth at Port Everglades, but it's still a bit strange to see a loaded tanker drifting sideways, 25 miles from the nearest port.  Hey, now, hold it a moment.  This is not a Jones Act ship.  Why are we importing jet fuel?  The cargo came from the refinery in Come-by-Chance, Newfoundland: it's cheaper to import jet fuel from Newfoundland than to barge it down from Philadelphia or over from Louisiana.  No wonder nobody builds new refineries any more.

NAVY PICKS TWO FOR AGOR OCEAN

The Navy has awarded two Phase I design contracts for the AGOR Ocean program.  Marinette Marine and Dakota Creek Industries will each get $1.5 million contracts for the design phase.  This is a bit of a surprise.  The Navy had the budget to make three Phase I awards and only made two, although it received six proposals.  Intriguing.  Where was VT Halter Marine in this competition?  Bollinger?  Atlantic Marine Florida?  January 27, 2010.

HUAKAI LOADS AND LEAVES

Soldiers from the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's 689th Rapid Port Opening Element, its 597th Transportation Brigade, and the 7th Sustainment Brigade deployed from Fort Eustis to Haiti today on the former Hawaii Superferry Huakai.  Read the story here.  January 27, 2010.

LCS 1's "PROVEN" HULL FORM

Lockheed Martin's much touted "proven design" for LCS 1 appears to have been modified.  The photo on the right indicates that it has been given some extra buoyancy aft by the addition of what look like a maritime version of butt cheeks.  Is it still a proven design?   January 27, 2010.  An alert reader points out that these additions appear to be above the waterline, in which case they don't add to the buoyancy.  So, what are they for?  January 28, 2010.  A lot of input has been received on this topic.  The consensus seems to be that these void spaces aft are designed to provide extra buoyancy when the ship is damaged and in danger of sinking.  Oh well, that makes sense, doesn't it?

SUPERFERRY DELAYED

No wonder DoT decided to mobilize the Alakai as well as the Huakai: apparently the Huakai is still not ready to sail.  Read the story here.  Meanwhile, although it's now been nine days since the RRF flotilla was mobilized, the Alakai and the two crane ships are still at their piers in Norfolk.  The good news is that the Cape May sailed yesterday, while the Petersburg's mobilization has been cancelled.   January 27, 2010.

LCS RFP OUT

The Navy Times reports that the RFP for the next flight of LCSs is out, although apparently not publicly available for some reason.  Heaven forbid that the taxpayers might be allowed to know what they are going to get for the predictably obscene prices.  The due date for proposals is rumored to be March 29.  Read the story hereJanuary 27, 2010.

MORE ON LPD 17

Defense News has published statements on the LPD 17 problem from Northrop Grumman, the Navy's Office of Research, Development and Acquisition, and NAVSEA.  Read them here.  January 26, 2010.

RHODE ISLAND POLS DISPLAY THEIR IGNORANCE

Heavens, no, we can't allow LNG carriers in Mount Hope Bay.  We might get some cheap, clean, safe energy from them.  Eek!  Read the story in the Providence Journal hereJanuary 25, 2010.

BRING BACK PRISON SHIPS?

The Conservative Party in the U.K. is promoting the idea of prison ships as the solution to the problem of overcrowding in British jails.  Shades of the prison hulks of the first half of the 19th century, when the Royal Navy had a bunch of excess ships!  But hold it, we could do that, too.  Avondale built a prison barge, the Vernon C. Bain, pictured on the right, back in 1992.  We could start by converting the old United States, which is already essentially a hulk, and then go on to converting all those old ships in the Navy's Inactive Ship Facilities.  And if that's not enough, this would be a role that could actually be within the capabilities of the LPD 17s.  January 25, 2010.

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT NORTHROP GRUMMAN? - PART 1

Northrop Grumman Corporation has effectively demonstrated that it does not know how to manage shipyards.  (And it's not exactly as though General Dynamics is the world's greatest shipbuilder, but all things are relative - they seem to be a model of efficiency compared to Northrop Grumman.)  As a result of a poorly thought out wave of consolidation ten years ago, we seem to be stuck with Northrop Grumman in control of three of our six remaining large shipyards, building sub-standard vessels that could endanger the lives of our sailors, at enormous and totally unjustifiable costs that nevertheless make NG and GD by far the most profitable shipbuilders in the world.  If NG cannot fix its own problems, which it apparently can't, what could or should we, the taxpayers, do about it?  Here are some initial ideas, none of which is necessarily the right solution.

1.  Require NG to spin each of the three shipyards off under new management and an active and experienced Board of Directors.  But would we have to do the same to GD?

2.  Nationalize them - the Rickover solution.  But, again, would we have to do the same to GD?  And who would manage them?

3.  Modify their current contracts and require all future contracts to include significant penalties for failure to achieve specific improvements in cost and schedule performance.  Rewards for exceeding the goals would be ok too, of course.

4.  Require them to hire a truly expert shipbuilder to advise their on-site management, as GD has done with Daewoo at NASSCO.  There would be a lot of yelling and screaming about security concerns, but that's really a lot of BS.  A bigger problem would be arrogant managers refusing to listen to the experts, so there would need to be a procedure for the consultants to report independently.  Or should the experts be hired by DoD rather than NG?

5.  A big part of the problem has undoubtedly been caused by the Navy itself, not to mention the Congress, which creates a need for a wholly different set of solutions.  But as far as shipyard operations are concerned, do we need to modify the way SupShip works?

Maybe we just don't care and we're happy to have an ever smaller but ever more expensive Navy.  Tell me what you think should be done and on Friday I'll print your suggestions here, anonymously, of course.  Send your thoughts to TimColton@aol.com.  January 25, 2010.

MORE ON THE LPD 17 PROBLEMS

Defense Industry Daily chimed in yesterday with a very interesting article.  Read it hereJanuary 25, 2010.

HAPPY BURNS DAY

I know you don't really need to be reminded, but today is Rabbie Burns' 251st birthday.  Now don't go over the top on the haggis, chamfered tatties and bashed neeps, let alone the single malts drunk neat from a quaich.  But a wee dram in a toast to his immortal memory is good.  Here's one of his many wise observations:  Oh, wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion!  Even Northrop Grumman could learn from that.  January 25, 2010.

BENDER IN DESPERATION LAW SUIT

Bender Shipbuilding (what's left of it) has filed suit against Caterpillar and its local distributor, alleging that the fire on their Hull 7876, the future Seacor Sherman, which was the fourth of a series of six identical AHTSs, was caused by defective engines.  Read the story in the Mobile Press-Register here.  Caterpillar engines defective?  Yeah, right!  On the face of it, this makes no sense at all.  January 22, 2010.

THE NORTHROP GRUMMAN STORY GETS WORSE

The Navy Times reports that there are ongoing quality problems not only on all the ships of the LPD 17 class but on everything built by NGSB in its Pascagoula and Avondale shipyards.  Read the story here.  In particular:, note the following language: Inspectors are rechecking every pipe weld aboard every ship built in the last several years at Avondale, La., or Pascagoula, Miss., including destroyers and small- and big-deck amphibs, after discovering so many problems that all pipe welders and Navy inspectors at both yards had to be decertified and then recertified to work on ships.  Good grief, whatever next?  And we, the taxpayers, will probably have to pay to get the work repaired.  What would the Navy have to do to get some competent management into these two yards?  Hire Daewoo?  January 22, 2010.

SECOND HSF MOBILIZED

The Alakai has now been mobilized too.  Read MARAD's announcement here.  Both HSFs are currently still in Norfolk.  They will be crewed by civilian mariners provided by Hornblower Marine Services: see Hornblower's story hereJanuary 21/22, 2010.

EX-HAWAII SUPERFERRY AMONG SHIPS MOBILIZED TO HAITI

The former Hawaii SuperFerry Huakai is one of five RRF ships mobilized by the DoT for emergency port service in Haiti., the others being the crane ships Gopher State and Cornhusker State, the offshore petroleum discharge system (OPDS) Petersburg and the barge carrier Cape May: read the announcement here.  In addition, MSC reports that it is now loading the prepositioning ship USNS 1LT Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011) with a mixed load of supplies: read that story here.  The hospital ship Comfort (T-AH 20) is already on her way: read that story here.  (It was reported earlier that the Mass. Maritime Training Ship Kennedy had been mobilized, complete with its crew of cadets, but that order has been cancelled: read that story here.)  January 19, 2010.

EXXON DOES IT AGAIN

ExxonMobil's 32-year-old SeaRiver Kodiak lost power in Prince William Sound on Sunday and had to be towed back in to Valdez.  Read the story in the Anchorage Daily News hereJanuary 19, 2010. 

GULF CRAFT AND THOMA-SEA EACH GET FOUR MORE BOATS TO BUILD

RigZone reports that Gulf Offshore Logistics has ordered four 220-foot DP2 fast supply/crewboats from Gulf Craft, of Patterson LA, and four 300-foot DP2 PSVs from Thoma-Sea Shipbuilders, of Lockport LA.  Read the story hereJanuary 16, 2010.

SIGNAL OUTBIDS VT HALTER FOR BENDER

Signal International outbid VT Systems, the parent company of VT Halter Marine, in the auction of Bender Shipbuilding's assets today, with a final offer of $31.25 million.  Read the story in the Mobile Press-Register here.  Note that this sale does not include either the prefab shop or the yard in Mexico.   January 15, 2010.

BOLLINGER TO BUILD SLUDGE CARRIERS

Although there has been no formal announcement, I can confirm that Bollinger Shipyards has executed a contract with the City of New York's Department of Environmental Protection for the construction of three 290-foot, 140,000-cu.ft. sludge carriers, similar to the old one shown on the right.  The contract is valued at $84 million, with deliveries in June 2012, October 2012 and February 2013.  The boats will be built at Bollinger's Amelia shipyard.  What's sludge?  It's the residue from wastewater treatment plants, which means that it's basically a very concentrated form of you-know-what.  A Jones Act trade, of course.  January 15, 2010.

RFP FOR FY10 SMALL SHIPYARD GRANT PROGRAM RELEASED

No announcement on either the DoT or the MARAD web site, but today's Federal Register publishes the rules for this year's Small Shipyard Grant Program, for which MARAD has $14.7 million available.  Read the announcement here.  Note that the due date for proposals is only a month away, because the clock started running on December 16.  MARAD is so useless, isn't it?  January 13, 2010.  The ground rules have now made it on to the MARAD web site, here.  January 15, 2010.

MARAD SCRAPS THREE MORE OLD SHIPS

MARAD is sending three WWII-vintage ships, the Rider Victory, - CalShip's hull V61 - Winthrop Victory - CalShip's hull V74 - and Mission Santa Ynez - MarinShip's hull 1275, to Esco Marine, of Brownsville TX.  All three were in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet and will be cleaned up by BAE Systems in San Francisco before being towed through the canal to Brownsville.  Read the announcement hereJanuary 13, 2010.

TAIWAN TO BUY EIGHT SECOND-HAND OLIVER HAZARD PERRY-CLASS FRIGATES

Such a deal would, of course, make all the difference to Taiwan's ability to defend itself against the Chinese, I don't think.  We built 55 FFG 7s between 1966 and 1989, for less than $100 million each (shipyard price).  Twenty have already been transferred to overseas navies - Australia (4), Bahrain (1), Egypt (4), Poland (2) and Turkey (9).  Three have been scrapped.  There are 32 still in stock, 21 on active duty, nine assigned to the NRF and two laid up in the inactive fleet.  The average age of the 32 remaining ships is about 24 and the FFG 7 design is now 40 years old.  Talk about obsolete.  Why do we do this?  If we want to help the Taiwanese and don't care about ticking off the Chinese in the process, why don't we sell them some new ships?  The Navy is required by law to actively assist the U.S. shipbuilding industry make overseas sales: how does giving away obsolete ships do this?  BIW needs work and loading them up could help to bring down the astronomical cost of the DDG 1000s.  Grrr.  January 12, 2010.  An alert reader reminds me that Taiwan already has eight FFG 7s, which they built in their own yards.  January 13, 2010. Another alert reader points out that it may be Taiwan's intention to use these additional ships to replace their eight antiquated Knox-class frigates and to simultaneously achieve a higher degree of standardization.  January 14, 2010.

GD AND AUSTAL TO SPLIT?

Defense News reports that the LCS 2 team led by GD Bath Iron Works, with Austal USA doing the actual shipbuilding,  is about to split up, and GD will compete for the ongoing program without Austal, building the boats at Bath or possibly even at NASSCO.  Read the story here.  I guess the thinking is that BIW, which needs work, can under-bid Austal and take the new winner-take-all contract.  They're dreaming, right?  Here's a teaming arrangement in which GD needs Austal much more than Austal needs GD, and GD wants to break it up.  This has to be one of the dumbest ideas ever!  Maybe I'm missing something: is there any kind of a rational argument for this?  January 12, 2010  One alert reader points out that the plan may be to split up in order to win both the lead-yard and the follow-yard contracts.  And then team up again?  Hmmm.  January 13, 2010.

HARVEY GULF RETURNS TO EASTERN

Harvey Gulf Marine has ordered six offshore support vessels from Eastern Shipbuilding - 292-foot, 8,000-hp, DP-2 boats, designed by STX Canada Marine.  Read the announcement reported in Maritime Executive here.  No price is given but these are not cheap boats - close to $30 million each, I would think.  Another sign of the limited impact of the recession on U.S. shipbuilding.  January 9, 2010.

LPD 21 SUSTAINS BEARING PROBLEMS

The Navy Times reports that the USS New York, (LPD 21), is stuck in Norfolk with bearing problems.  Read the story hereJanuary 8, 2010.

SIGNET AT COLLE

Colle Towing is a small company in Pascagoula, in business since 1878.  They have six harbor tugs and three pushboats.  Four of the tugs they built themselves, in a small shipyard next door to Signal International's yard on the west bank of the Pascagoula River.  Those four tugs are all they have ever built.  So now comes Barry Snyder, of Signet Maritime, who recently ordered a large oceangoing deck barge from Signal, which has never built anything like that before but obviously can, and orders an ASD tug from Colle.  Read the announcement here.  Good for Mr. Snyder: I like his style.  January 8, 2010.

DUELING DESIGNS

The current issue of the USNI Proceedings includes full-page ads from both the LCS prime contractors. 

The Lockheed Martin ad, promoting the steel monohull that is LCS 1, says:

The Shape of Littoral Dominance Has a Familiar Look.  Lockheed Martin LCS team has delivered a low-risk solution to one of the U.S. Navy's highest global security priorities.  A conventional steel hull that can be affordably built and maintained anywhere.  A combat system common with Navy surface combatant combat systems.  Easy access to ports, interoperability, flexibility and sustainability.  Lockheed Martin's LCS: A warship built on proven performance.

The General Dynamics ad, promoting the aluminum trimaran that is LCS 2, says:

Capability Counts.  With its proven trimaran hull, superior maneuverability and stability, endurance to travel 4,300 miles at 18 knots, three weapon zones, capacity for any two mission packages simultaneously, and a flight deck larger than any other surface combatant, General Dynamics delivers the littoral combat ship to excel anytime, anywhere: Independence

It is interesting to note the choice of words.  Each blurb manages to promote its team's design while subtly knocking the other's.  Which does it more effectively?  January 7, 2010.

SUNCRUZ TO CHAPTER 7

Suncruz Casinos has joined the trend among casino boat operators by filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7.  Its three boats, which served Jacksonville, Port Canaveral and Myrtle Beach, will presumably be sold.  Read the story in the Florida Times-Union hereJanuary 7, 2010.

BLACKWATER'S ANTI-PIRACY SHIP FOR SALE

The notorious Blackwater Corporation, now called, mysteriously, Xe, is out of the anti-piracy business.  So maybe that wasn't such a great idea, after all: it seems that the pirate-fighting ship rarely left Norfolk.  Life on board, described in the Virginian Pilot here, appears to have been more like that on an old-time pirate ship than on an anti-piracy ship.  Anyway, the ship, the former NOAA survey ship McArthur, built by Norshipco in 1966, is for sale.  See the ad on Yachtworld.com here.  The asking price is $3.7 million.  January 4, 2010.

AUCTION OF BENDER SHIPBUILDING SET FOR JANUARY 18

The objections of the secured creditors have been dealt with and the auction of Bender Shipbuilding is set for Monday, January 18.  There appear to be at least two bidders in addition to the stalking horse, VT Systems, parent company of VT Halter Marine.  So, how high will the bidding go?  And how will the bidders handle the bizarre way in which the assets have been divided into packages?  January 4, 2010.

BLOUNT CLOSES DINNER CRUISE OPERATION

The Blount sisters have closed their Narragansett Bay dinner boat operation and the two boats - Vista Jubilee and Harbor Queen - are for sale.  Read the story in the Providence Journal here.  Note that the Blounts apparently blame the closure on their own inability to manage three businesses at once.  I'd bet that if the dinner boat business were making money, they could have found a way, or sold it as a going concern.  January 3, 2010.

NEW MEXICO DELIVERED

Newport News has delivered the sixth Virginia-class submarine, the future USS New Mexico, (SSN 779).  Read the announcement here.  Delivery was apparently "four months ahead of schedule" and "in record time", despite that welding problem they had.  One tends to take Northrop Grumman's overblown press releases with a pinch of salt, but, if so, good for them.  January 1, 2010.

LANCER-CLASS CONTAINERSHIP TO BE SCRAPPED

Horizon Lines has stripped the 40-year-old Horizon Crusader and laid her up in Violet LA, prior to scrapping.  She is one of the very first pure containerships, as opposed to converted break-bulk ships, built by Sun Ship for United States Lines as the American LarkJanuary 1, 2010.


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