Miss. shipbuilder gets contract for new NOAA mapping vessel

Published 5:33 pm Wednesday, September 27, 2006

VT Halter Marine will build a new ship for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — a $15 million coastal mapping vessel.

The company expects to deliver the 124-foot, twin-hull ship in the summer of 2008.

In 2004, VT Halter won a $795,000 contract to design the vessel. NOAA exercised an option in the contract to have the company complete the final design and handle construction.

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“It is always exciting to take a project from blueprint to blue water,” said Boyd E. King, VT Halter Marine’s chief executive officer. “The SWATH CMV will be the fifth NOAA vessel that VT Halter Marine will build in support of NOAA’s active fleet replacement program.”

The ship will have side scan and multi-beam sonar to survey the coastal sea floor. The data will update nautical charts in waterways of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Caribbean Sea and Great Lakes.

The new ship is designed to operate around the clock and is built specifically for its mapping mission.

“The (twin hull) design is particularly suited to NOAA’s mission to map the ocean floor, as it is less responsive to wave action than a mono-hull ship,” said Rear Adm. Samuel P. De Bow Jr., director of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which will operate the ship.

“Its reduced motion will result in more reliable acquisition of survey data, and its enhanced sea-keeping ability will make it a more efficient survey platform.”

The company also is building 10 articulated tug barges, two other NOAA survey vessels, a double-ended ferry and a barge for dam building.