A Houma shipbuilder has landed two new contracts as it works to rebound from a four-year offshore oil bust.
Gulf Island Fabrication will build a 245-guest riverboat for the American Steamboat Company, officials said Friday. The new paddle-wheeler, called the American Countess, will be built using the existing hull of the Kanesville Queen, a former gambling boat built in 1995. It’s expected to sail the Mississippi River starting sometime next year.
Gulf Island officials said they will report revenue and man-hours associated with the project in the company’s public financial statements for the quarter ending Sept. 30.
“We continue to break sales records and incredible demand remains for more capacity on the river with each of our boats continuing to sail full,” American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman John Waggoner said in a news release. “We look forward to collaborating with Gulf Island’s team of skilled workers and craftsmen to deliver a riverboat that will once again exceed expectations of our guests and continue raising the bar on domestic river cruising.”
The latest contract follows Gulf Island’s announcement late last month that it has finalized a deal to build a second 3300-horsepower towboat for an unnamed customer. Delivery of the second vessel is estimated two months after delivery of the first.
“We are pleased to be awarded this option for the second newbuild towboat,” Kirk Meche, Gulf Island president and CEO, said in a news release. “This work will be performed at our shipyard in Houma. ... This is yet another indication of confidence from our customers as it relates to our ability to perform and provide quality vessels.”
Gulf Island, based in Houston, is a leading fabricator of oilfield structures, including offshore platforms and ships. It also builds structures for the petrochemical and alternative energy industries. Its Houma fabrication and shipbuilding operations in Houma employ about 600 workers.
Like many oilfield service companies, Gulf Island’s business has been impacted by a four-year offshore oil bust that has stripped an estimated 16,000 jobs from the Houma-Thibodaux economy.
Meche cited some improvements in an Aug. 9 report on the company’s second-quarter financial results. The company reported net income of $500,000 on revenue of $54 million for the three months ended June 30. That compares to a net loss of $10.9 million on revenue of $45.9 million for the same period in 2017. And it’s up from the first quarter of this year, when the company posted a net loss of $5.3 million.
He cited strong performance from Gulf Island’s services division in Houma, as well as income from the sale of a fabrication yard in Ingleside, Texas, for part of the gain.
On June 6, the company landed a contract to build a second marine research vessel for Oregon State University for $67.6 million. And in March, it received a $63.6 million contract to build the first in a new class of Navy salvage, towing and rescue ships. Both projects are being built in Houma.
The company’s reported a backlog of work totaling $347.6 million as of Aug. 8, including projects through 2022.
“As of today,” Meche said in the report, “our backlog is the largest it has been in four years.”
-- Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 857-2201 or firstname.lastname@example.org.