Bell-Halter Delivers First Commercial SES To Command Marine

bellhalter command

The United States' first commercial surface effect ship (SES), t h e Speed Command (shown above) of Command Marine, Inc. of Lafayette, La., became operational recently and is exceeding design and performance expectations, according to James Mello, president of Command Marine. The new "dashboat" built by Bell- Halter, Inc., New Orleans, is now transporting supplies and personnel to rigs and platforms in the Campeche Sound under contract to Pemex, the Mexican state oil company.

"The dashboat has proven to be extremely reliable and has not experienced any downtime due to equipment problems or weather," said Mr. Mello. "In addition, she has demonstrated an ability to operate and maintain speed in extremely rough weather conditions when other vessels had to remain in port," he added.

Mr. Mello stated that the Speed Command has carried up to 127 people on some trips and that the dashboat has operated in 10 to 12-foot seas at speeds up to 26 knots. On those occasions the passengers were comfortable and safe and arrived ready to work. The Speed Command rides on a resistance-reducing cushion of air contained by catamaran-style side hulls and flexible bow and stern seals. When under way, the center portion of the hull is clear of water and supported by the air cushion that dramatically reduces resistance with the water. This low resistance characteristic results in much higher speeds per installed horsepower, and greatly improves the ride characteristics of the vessel.

The 110-foot by 39-foot allaluminum vessel is powered by two SACM 12V175RVR diesel engines, each with a maximum continuous rating of 1,500 bhp at 1,560 rpm. The two double inlet centrifugal lift fans are powered by two GM Detroit Diesel 8V92N engines.

The Speed Command is registered at under 100 gross tons, and can carry up to 40 long tons on her spacious 1,000-square-foot aft deck. She is the first of four sister surface effect ships to be built for Command Marine at Halter Marine's Chalmette, La., division. The Bell-Halter prototype demonstration vessel, the Bell-Halter 110, which is similar to the Speed Command, has been sold to the U.S. Navy. (See MR/EN, March 1, 1979) She has been in service for approximately two years and has completed demonstration tours on the U.S. East Coast and work tours in the Gulf of Mexico. She will serve the U.S. Coast Guard for six months prior to going in service with the U.S. Navy. Another Bell-Halter surface effect ship, the Rodolf, is now being operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a hvdrographic survey boat. (See MR EN, April 15, 1980)

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