Tidewater Marine Vessel Adaptations Create New Market Opportunities
Since inception of the industry over 30 years ago, Tidewater Inc.'s marine subsidiary, Tidewater Ma- rine Service, Inc., has consistently been a leader in the development of oil and gas support vessel design and operating improvements—hull design, superior machinery and in- novative equipment.
The current reduced demand for Tidewater's vessels in the offshore petroleum industry has prompted Tidewater Marine to aggressively pursue alternative employment opportunities for its fleet.
A recent striking example is the company's conversion of the Abshire Tide, a 194-foot, 2,250-horsepower supply vessel. The Abshire Tide is currently performing surveillance support service at sea.
According to Richard M. Currence, president of Tidewater Marine, the modification of the vessel presented an unusual challenge and opportunity for Tidewater Marine's design and engineering department.
The vessel was lengthened and deck area expanded to accommodate a stern gantry and mooring system to support a 85-foot-long, 25,000- cubic-foot helium-filled aerostat (balloon).
"We also strengthened the below deck section to be able to handle the weight of the gantry and mooring system as it travels forward and aft in tracks mounted on the rear deck of the vessel," Mr. Currence said.
He said that in addition to the gantry, a drive system was also designed to propel it. "We specified hydraulic power by tying the gantry into the vessel's existing hydraulic system. The objective was to make the entire operation as economically feasible as possible, and the Abshire Tide's hydraulic system provided the solution." The Abshire Tide is powered by twin Caterpillar engines that develop a speed of 12 knots. It is one of 267 vessels that make up the Tidewater Marine fleet currently deployed in 21 areas of the globe, everywhere, in fact, that major oil and gas support activities are taking place offshore.
Other recent examples of specialized support equipment that Tidewater has tailored to the charterers' specifications include a dynamically positioned support vessel, Australia; crew-towing supply vessel, West Africa; geophysical survey, Gulf of Mexico; and supply-utility, Middle East.
In addition to owning and operating one of the world's largest fleets of vessels supporting the offshore oil and gas industry, Tidewater is also active in oil and gas exploration and production and in the air and natural gas compression business, in addition to owning minor interests in real estate and in insurance.
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