Alabama Launches ATB

Alabama Shipyard is hoping that last month's launching of its unique Articulated Tug Barge unit (ATB) for Reinauer Transportation signals the beginning of many more orders for the OPA 90 compliant product transporters. The company estimates that 50 single hull barges will need replacements by 2005, and the yard is expanding its market horizons by, for example, holding discussions with owners who are evaluating using the ATB as a shuttle tanker in the Gulf of Mexico. The 460-ft. (140.2 m) barge, designed by Alabama shipyard, is double- hulled and in compliance with the OPA 90 regulations. Bob H i l l of Ocean Tug and Barge Engineering designed the 7,200-hp, 124-ft (37.7 m) tug, which was built at Atlantic Marine-Jacksonville.

The ocean-going tug/barge unit offers the patented Intercon tug/barge coupler system, which was designed and built by Intercontinental Engineering and Manufacturing of Kansas City, Mo.

The shipyard used Foran 3-D modeling, allowing, for example, the pipeshop to manufacture the piping with flanges, which simplifies pipe installation and allows it to be bolted directly in place.

The intention for future orders is to build the tugs at Alabama Shipyard as well, in order to fully realize the building capabilities of the bigger shipyard, which features far more lifting capacity, for example, than the Jacksonville facility.

The end goal of the ATB program is to realize the many cost and efficiency benefits of series production, and Alabama Shipyard officials estimate that once production is fully up and running, that it will be able to build between 8 and 12 tug/barge units per year.

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