Bell-Halter To Build Four SES 'Dashboats' For Command Marine

A new mode of high-speed marine transportation will become available to the Gulf of Mexico rig and platform operators this winter when the first of four new surface effect "dashboats" begins servicing offshore rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

The contract to build the four vessels was announced recently by James L. Mello, president of Command Marine, Inc., Lafayette, La. Floyd J. Naquin, president of Halter Marine, Inc., New Orleans, N.C. Willcox, president of Bell Aerospace Textron, Buffalo, N.Y., and John J. Kelly, president of Bell-Halter Inc., New Orleans.

Mr. Mello said Command Marine is the first American vessel operator to choose surface effect ships because of positive results obtained in intensive civilian and military testing of the prototype Bell-Halter SES, and because of outstanding records logged by the SES.

"Speed, fuel efficiency, and stability are the obvious advantages," said Mr. Mello. "These new 'dashboats' will be able to carry up to 120 passengers or 40 tons of cargo at 32 knots in calm seas and 28 knots in seas and weather conditions in which conventional forms of marine transportation cannot operate." The new "dashboats" will be very similar to the Bell-Halter prototype with a 110-foot length, 39-foot beam, and on-cushion draft of 4 feet 6 inches. Offcushion draft is 7 feet 9 inches.

The surface effect "dashboats" will ride on a resistance-reducing cushion of air contained by catamaran- style sidehulls and flexible bow and stern seals. When under way, the center portion of the hull is clear of the water and supported by the air cushion, which dramatically reduces resistance with the water. This low resistance characteristic results in much higher speeds per installed horsepower and greatly improves the ride characteristics of the vessel.

"Because the S E S has less friction with the water, it uses less fuel," said Mr. Mello. "That fuel economy will be further enhanced by the highly efficient SACM (Societe Alsacienne de C o n s t r u c t i o n s Mecaniques) engines selected to power the 'dashboats,' as they burn approximately 13 percent less fuel than more commonly used engines," he added.

Mr. Naquin said that, "because of the design of the Bell-Halter 'dashboats,' these 110-foot vessels are equivalent to a 140-foot vessel in payload and volume. In addition, they will be equally adaptable in a multipurpose role as they can serve as ferries, hydrographic survey vessels, fireboats, search and rescue craft, and more." Mr. Kelly noted that, while this is the first civilian contract for Bell-Halter, the group recently delivered a 48-foot SES hydrographic survey vessel to the U.S.

Army Corps of Engineers, and that Bell Aerospace has built surface effect ships for governmental agencies.

The first vessel will be delivered in the fall of 1980, with the other three vessels following at two-month intervals thereafter.

Other stories from June 1980 issue


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