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NEWS AND VIEWS FEBRUARY 2005 

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Seacor News

We reported a couple of weeks ago that we had heard that Havila had purchased the UK based Seacor fleet for about 85 million dollars. The five ships involved were the Stirling Tay, Stirling Spey, Smit-Loyd Fame, Stirling Pegasus, and Stirling Iona.

Since than all has been silence. Was it true or not. Did the crews of the Stirling vessels have to worry about their redundancy. At the time of writing who knows. But those who have followed the fortunes of these vessels will see that the residue of the Star Offshore fleet has changed hands again (probably), and may wonder what the business of ship-owning is about - again. Stirling purchased the Star Offshore fleet when it was a group of middle aged but effective vessels and then added a number of VS483s to it. There-after they built three utility anchor-handlers before all the ships except for the Stirling Forth and Stirling Clyde were sold to Seacor together with the name. It was apparently seen at the time as being an expansion - a sort of march forward between an established British and an established American company. 

However, it was not long before the more effective units from the former Stirling fleet began to be disposed of and most of them are scattered all over the world. The two latest anchor-handlers for instance are in the Caspian being operated by BUE.

On the other side of the coin the Havila fleet has varied in size and quality over the years, and it is not long ago that numbers of their vessels were sold to Groupe Bourbon. For the British is will be sad if the crews of the former Seacor vessels are replaced by Norwegians.

Late news: As the month draws to an end the speculation is finally over and there are a number of grey ships being painted green. The full impact of the change on the Uk personnel is not yet known.

Apparently one of the sister vessels the Inverforth has also been sold to Havila at a price which is unknown, but which the owners are said to have been unable to refuse - no horse's heads involved.

The other sister ship, the Inverclyde has also been sold possible to RovTech, but apologies if this is not the new owner, or if it is the new owner and we have got the name wrong.

The Arrival of the John P Laborde

We recently photographed the John  P Laborde, and its arrival in Aberdeen should have been a proud moment for Tidewater. Fifty years after the Ebb Tide and its moderate beginnings we have the latest and one of the largest anchor-handlers in the world. Although no-one has invited us to have a look, and there have been no official statements there appear to be reasons for its rather lengthy stay alongside on Trinity Quay.

Like many new anchor handlers it is rumoured that there are one or two problems with the winch, which currently limit its activities, but at 26,000 bhp considerable fuel is consumed every time it moves - this despite the fact that it is diesel-electric. Innovatively it has fixed pitch propellers which should be fine, because the electric motors are able to operate at any speed and in two directions. What could be simpler - well CP propulsion apparently! 

Even More Seacor News

We have received a press release (yes honestly!) telling us that there has been a merger between Seacor and Seabulk, making the resulting company very large indeed. Elsewhere we see it claimed that in fact it is a Seacor take-over of Seabulk, but wither way it is still a very large company, although in the past both organisations have purchased numbers of aged craft.

Seacor have usually sold many of their more modern vessels, while Seabulk seem to have kept theirs. However, both companies have built ships, Seabulk most recently one or two UT755s which seem to have given them an air of respectability which they might have lacked before.

The resulting company is another enormous American conglomerate, so large that there is not the slightest possibility that the senior management will actually know what is going on, but that seems to be the way of the world. 

Vic Gibson

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