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    Philly targets shuttle tankers

    Yard News // December 15, 2000
    Ron McAlear, the new CEO at Kvaerner Philadelphia shipyard in the US has confirmed that the yard has a breakthrough signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with FastShip Inc, and says the yard also wants to build shuttle tankers.

    Speaking in early December, McAlear, who was appointed CEO by Kvaerner on 06 November, said the yard was now part of a consortium of companies that is negotiating a price to build the innovative FastShip containership designs.

    "In the medium to long term, we will be targeting Jones Act replacement tonnage", said McAlear, describing the yard's strategy. "We anticipate that there are around 100 tankers and maybe 30 dry bulk ships that need to be replaced in the near future", McAlear explained. Interestingly, however, the yard is also targeting the anticipated demand in the US Gulf of Mexico for shuttle tankers.

    As is the case with tanker and container ship designs McAlear hopes to build at Philly, the shuttle tanker designs will probably be drawn from the existing stable of designs from Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Finland.

    McAlear, an American citizen who has spent all his working life in the maritime industry, joined Kvaerner from Litton Avondale Industries. He said the first phase of construction at the brand new Philadelphia yard would be completed early in 2001.More than $260 million has been invested in plant by the State of Philadelphia, the city of Philadelphia, along with around $130 million invested in training.

    Recruitment at the yard is progressing well, too. By the end of November 400 new staff had joined the company, all of whom are being put through an intensive 26-week training course modelled on European practice.

    By 2002, said McAlear, he hoped to have a workforce of around 900 available to him, although, unlike most US yards, Philly will not be hiring full time employees across every trade. The yard will concentrate on its core competencies - designing and building ships in steel - he explained, and is in the process of signing agreements with a number of affiliates to whom electrical, painting, and other types of work will be sub-contracted.

    Numerous agreements have also been signed with local equipment suppliers, culminating in the announcement recently of $60 million worth of 'alliance agreements' with potential sub-contractors, of which the largest to date is a $20 million, three-year deal with Bethlehem Lukens Plate for the supply of steel plate.

    The Philly yard currently has a design department of 55 persons who will carry out most preliminary design and engineering work - specialised firms of local naval architects would be employed on a sub-contract basis, as and when required, for detailed design work, said McAlear.

    "By 2002, we will be capable of building three ships per year with 900 employees", said McAlear. "We anticipate that the combination of a state of the art shipyard, European work practices and training, and a small but highly skilled workforce will meanthat Philly is comfortably the most cost effective yard in the US".

    As for the long-term future of the yard, McAlear said Kvaerner remains committed to its strategy of exiting from the shipbuilding industry, and wanted to sell the Philly yard "sooner rather than later". However, said McAlear, "with every day that passesthe value of the yard increases", and it was currently the subject of a great deal of attention from potential owners.

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