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Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Purchases Eagle I and Meridian from C.F. Bean LLC

The 6400-cubic-yard Eagle I was commissioned in 1981. Copies of this painting by Paul Kerrebon were presented to guests at the ceremony.

The 6400-cubic-yard Eagle I was commissioned in 1981. Copies of this painting by Paul Kerrebon were presented to guests at the ceremony.

The Meridian, working in Bayou Cassotte, a portion of the Pascagoula, Mississippi shipping channel, in April 1996. The dredge was designed so the main deck can become completely awash while operating, while all controls and personnel remain on the second

The Meridian, working in Bayou Cassotte, a portion of the Pascagoula, Mississippi shipping channel, in April 1996. The dredge was designed so the main deck can become completely awash while operating, while all controls and personnel remain on the second

On April 10, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation announced that it had signed agreements to purchase the dredges Eagle I and Meridian from affiliates of C.F. Bean LLC.

A day later, Great Lakes announced it had acquired the 30-inch, 10,000 hp dustpan dredge Beachbuilder from Weeks Marine.

The Eagle I is a 6400-cubic-yard split-hull hopper dredge, built in 1981 by Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans. The Meridian is a 30-inch cutterhead dredge, which was designed by Bean engineers and built by the company in 1996. The purchase will include the Meridian’s attendant plant.

The aggregate purchase price for the two dredges is $52.5 million, and Great Lakes announced that it would invest an addition $12 million to upgrade and outfit certain equipment.

Douglas B. Mackie, president and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes, said “We are delighted for the opportunity to purchase these two vessels, currently operating in the U.S. market, which will strengthen the company’s competitive position. Our recent merger with Aldabra provided the financial flexibility to accomplish an accretive transaction for the company.”

In mid-April, the Eagle I was working in Southwest Pass and the Meridian was working in the Mississippi River at Venice, Louisiana. Great Lakes is expected to take possession of the dredges by the end of May.

James W. Bean, chairman of the Bean companies in New Orleans, said that their working agreement with Royal Boskalis Westminster expires this summer. A year ago, Bean executives began discussing whether to renew the agreement, and during that process, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock made an offer for the two dredges.

Bean decided to let the agreement with Boskalis expire and to accept Great Lakes’ offer.

“We will concentrate on the Gulf Coast,” Jim Bean told IDR. “We’re going back to our original plan (of working locally.) We’ve gotten out of hopper dredging and commodity dredging,” he said.

The Eagle I recently underwent its 25-year Coast Guard survey, in which every piece of steel and every piece of equipment is inspected.

“Two Coast Guard people told me that of all the ships they had inspected, they had never seen a 25-year-old vessel in better condition,” said Bean. “The credit for this goes to the crew of the Eagle I, who have done a tremendous job maintaining it over the years,” he said.

Some of the original crew members are still on the dredge, including one who started as a third mate and another as a galley hand. Both are now captains of the dredge.

The sale will affect about 25 people in the office who will lose their jobs, said Bean, and the company will help them find new positions elsewhere.

The Eagle I and Meridian each have about 45 people connected with them, some of whom have been with the dredges since they were built. They are expected to be hired by Great Lakes after the sale is finalized.

“It’s bittersweet, like losing family members,” Bean said.

James W. Bean is semi-retired, and his son James W. Bean, Jr. is now president and CEO.

“I’ll advise from my retired position, but the company will go the way my son wants it,” he said.

Because of the need for coastal restoration in Louisiana, Bean sees a possibility for keeping a fleet of dredges busy locally.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) now under consideration in Congress contains authorization for some of this restoration, and the State of Louisiana has allocated funds for the restoration. This includes $550 million over four years in conjunction with an energy bill, and a provision to give Louisiana a large share of offshore oil revenue, both sources to be dedicated to coastal restoration.

There are three or four smaller projects along the coast that will be funded by the state this year, said Bean. “There is lots of opportunity for different types of equipment. We will build some smaller specialized equipment that is unique to this market,” he said.

Tauracavor Capsizes

Three months ago, Boskalis purchased Bean’s excavators Tauracavor and Maricavor. The Tauracavor, a Liebherr 996 excavator, was under tow en route to Panama when tragedy struck and on April 11 the Tauracavor capsized some 28 miles off the coast from Wilmington, North Carolina. There were no injuries. The Maricavor, a 16-cubic yard Komatsu 255 backhoe excavator, will be moved to Europe.

The sale of this equipment leaves Bean with the Bonacavor, a 4.5 cubic yard Liebherr 984, the Barredor Del Rio, a 7 cubic yard Komatsu 750, the Bean #2, an 8 cubic yard clamshell with a Lima 2400, and five other clamshells and support barges.

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation, headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, provides dredging services in the United States and internationally. International operations averaged 18 percent of the company’s dredging revenues in the past three years.

Great Lakes also owns an 85 percent interest in North American Site Developers, Inc., a U.S. provider of commercial and industrial demolition services. Additionally, the company owns a 50 percent interest in a marine sand mining operation in New Jersey which supplies sand and aggregate used for road and building construction. Great Lakes has a 117-year history of never failing to complete a marine project and a diverse dredging fleet comprising more than 180 vessels.

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