First Of 39 Hopper Barges Launched At Reactivated Equitable Shipyards
Equitable Shipyards, Inc. has launched the first of 39 coal-carrying hopper barges for the Indiana Michigan Power Company, Ft.
Wayne, Inc., signifying the rebirth of the shipyard which had closed since 1985. The 195-foot by 35-foot by 12-foot barge is the first of 15 of its size, which will be followed by twenty-four 175-foot by 26-foot by 11-foot barges.
The nearly $8-million contract with the Trinity Marine Group, which includes Equitable, is significant because it reflects increased activity in inland waterways transportation, according to John Dane III, president of the Trinity Marine Group.
The Equitable/Madisonville shipyard (near New Orleans) was opened in the early 1940s. It produced approximately 7,000 barges and boats before its closure with the decline in offshore energy industries and inland waterway transportation. At its peak, approximately 600 persons were employed at the facility. Today, 171 people work at the shipyard.
Edward L. Shearer, president of Shearer and Assoc., the New Orleans naval architecture firm which designed the barges, said, "You are going to see more and more orders (for new barge construction) because the current fleet is eight to 10 years old and not economically useful due to repair and maintenance expense." Mr. Dane said the Madisonville shipyard was reactivated because it was designed to produce barges efficiently and has the ideal equipment for barge construction, including special jigs; a 1,500-ton press; access to plasma arc metal cutting; panel line fabrication; and a hydraulically operated tipping launch system. At its peak, the facility can produce two hopper barges per day.
The Trinity Marine Group is owned by Trinity Industries, Inc., Dallas, Texas. It includes the Equitable Shipyards Inc. facilities at Madisonville and New Orleans, La., Halter Marine Inc., Moss Point, Miss., and Lockport, La., Moss Point Marine Inc. in Escatawpa, Miss., Aluminum Boats, Crown Point, La., and Gretna Machine and Iron Works Inc., Harvey, La.
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