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Orion Christens Newest Dredge Linda LaQuay

On August 27–a relatively cool summer day for Port Lavaca, Texas–Orion Marine Group christened its newest dredge, the Linda LaQuay.

The 15,000 horsepower, 24-inch cutter suction dredge with 75-foot digging depth is the largest in Orion’s fleet and one of the most powerful of its kind in the western Gulf of Mexico, said Waymon Boyd, vice chairman of King Fisher Marine Service.

Hull dimensions of the dredge are 230- by 30- by nine-feet.
“This is an important milestone for our company,” said Mike Pearson, Orion Marine Group’s president and chief executive officer. “This dredge will further enhance our deep channel dredging capability,” he said.

Having acquired King Fisher Marine Service in 1998, the purchase of T.W. LaQuay Dredging earlier this year was a clear sign of the company’s commitment to dredging. The purchase included the Linda LaQuay, the 24-inch Richard LaQuay (under construction), the 24-inch John LaQuay and the 20-inch Jason LaQuay, along with some smaller dredges, support equipment and all of the other assets of LaQuay Dredging.

It was also significant because it brought two companies with a long and storied past under the same umbrella. The companies share the same patriarch, the legendary King Fisher. Fisher, who formed his company in 1940, raised two daughters: Ann and her younger sister Linda. With the two daughters grew two companies. Linda and her husband Tim formed T.W. LaQuay Dredging on March 1, 2001, while Ann and her husband Waymon Boyd continued to operate and grow King Fisher.

The christening celebration brought nearly 400 people together in Port Lavaca. The Boyd and LaQuay families were joined by top executives of Orion Marine Group, employees of King Fisher and LaQuay Dredging and a large number of local dignitaries. Several out-of-state guests made the trip as well.

Waymon Boyd emceed the ceremony, thanking all of the people who helped build T.W. LaQuay Dredging and its new flagship, the Linda LaQuay. Tim and Linda LaQuay were honored along with their daughter Amy and her fiancé, Greg Flam. Charlie Barnett, a seasoned expert in dredge construction and design, was also honored. He introduced Pearson; then Jack Whitlow, the mayor of Port Lavaca; Judge Mike Pfeifer; and Caleb McGee from State Rep. Todd Hunter’s office. McGee presented a Texas flag that had flown over the state capital building to Mike Hunter, the captain of the Linda LaQuay. Linda LaQuay broke the bottle on the dredge ladder following a blessing by Reverend Mike Gresham, and the Texas-style barbecue began.

BUILDING A 230-FOOT DREDGE

The new dredge was a joint effort that began in January 2009. Tim and Linda LaQuay were the visionaries behind the project, and along with Charlie Barnett, designed the dredge. A lot of the work was done in-house at the company’s new north yard in Port Lavaca, with King Fisher and LaQuay Dredging employees. However, Boyd was quick to recognize the contributions of John Bludworth Shipyard, Rio Marine, Power Repair Service and Hagler Systems.

The project actually began at John Bludworth’s yard in Corpus Christi, Texas. Bludworth built the 230-foot long hull by combining an existing dredge with a booster barge, said Gasper D’Anna, vice president. They also installed the engines, piping and machinery and did a substantial amount of the carpentry work, including construction of the housing structure, bunkrooms and even putting the finishing touches on the galley.

Rio Marine was also involved in the project from the beginning. They designed the entire electrical system, providing custom switchboards, the machinery alarm systems and the lighting, said Clay Howard, senior vice president. The custom switchboard was built in Rio’s manufacturing facility in New Orleans. The machinery alarms were supplied through a partnership with Engine Monitoring Inc., he said.
The Linda LaQuay has a six-foot-diameter cutter with a 10-inch cutter shaft and 500 horsepower on the cutter drive.
The ladder is 104 feet long, weighs approximately 175 tons, and houses the two drive shafts for the ladder pump and the cutter. Power Repair was responsible for building the giant ladder, and provided dimensional drawings and built the ladder in sections. Power Repair also manufactured the shafts and bearings, and installed the winches.

The dredge has diesel-driven stern thrusters that help it maneuver in and out of the channel.

Hagler Systems provided the pumps as well as the ladder design and process engineering, said Bob Hagler, project manager. They analyzed frequency and deflections on the existing ladder, and designed reinforcements to accommodate the line shaft.

Hagler Systems provided three underwater bearings on the underwater pump line shaft. The line shaft is 53 feet long at 600 rpm. Hagler Systems also provided a Lufkin gear box between the pump and motor.

The hull pump is a GIW 24X24LSA62-inch dredge pump (24-inch suction and discharge; 62-inch-diameter impeller), and the ladder pump is a GIW 24 X24LSA44-inch dredge pump.

Main generators are two 2,000 kilowatt QSK-60 Cummins generator sets. The main pump is powered by a 4160 horsepower ALCO, with a clutch driving through a David Brown reduction gear box.

“The dredge is equipped with the most modern technology available and has living quarters for nine men with all the modern conveniences aboard,” said Boyd.

The Linda LaQuay went right to work on the Freeport Harbor Turning Basin.

ORION MARINE GROUP
Orion Marine Group is a heavy civil marine contractor serving the infrastructure sector. The company is based in Houston, Texas, and has roots that extend nearly 100 years. In addition to dredging, Orion’s services include marine transportation facility construction, marine pipeline construction, marine environmental structures and specialty services such as salvage, surveying, towing and repair.

Orion is a publicly held company trading on the New York Stock Exchange. It recently reported its second quarter 2010 results. Net income for the three months ending June 30 was $7 million, compared to $6.3 million for the same period a year ago. The backlog of work under contract at the time was $218.1 million compared with $141.8 million during the same period a year earlier. Orion reported that it was tracking $4.5 to $5 billion of bid opportunities and expects to see positive long-term trends in port expansion, U.S. infrastructure updates, coastal and wetland restoration projects, expansion in cruise industry and projects involving dredging services.

Orion acquired T.W. LaQuay Dredging on January 28, 2010, and is keeping it as a holding company. The dredges are operated by King Fisher Marine Service. All employees are officially Orion Marine Group employees. At that time, King Fisher had 380 employees, said Tammie Boyd, human resources manager for King Fisher. The acquisition boosted the company’s dredge fleet to nine. The company’s policy of running three fully-manned shifts on each dredge resulted in increased hiring of dredge crew, and the overall success of the company has resulted in an additional 207 employees throughout the company since the acquisition, said Boyd, for a total of 587.

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