CALLAWAY — The ship Red Dawn slid into East Bay with a low roar, a swooping wave of water and cheers of both workers and admirers at the Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s Allanton shipyard on Friday.
Brian D’Isernia, president and CEO of Eastern Shipbuilding, thanked his workers and customers just before the Champagne christening of the HOS (Hornbeck Offshore Services) Red Dawn.
“You people have taken raw steel, hundreds of miles of electrical cable, engines, machinery, thousands of components, complicated components, and created what I think is a thing of beauty,” D’Isernia told the crowd of a couple hundred people gathered at the shipyard just after 2 p.m.
“I am proud of this vessel,” D’Isernia continued. “But more importantly I am proud of each and every one of you. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we buy too much from overseas. As you know, we buy a good part of our oil from the Middle East from countries that perhaps don’t like us very much. … This vessel, the Hornbeck HOS Red Dawn, is being built in America. This vessel is being built by Americans. This vessel is being built for an American owner. And this vessel will work in American waters in the Gulf of Mexico and will decrease our dependence on foreign oil.”
A cheer went up from the crowd.
Eastern’s contract with Hornbeck is for nine additional vessels similar to the HOS Red Dawn, according to Hornbeck officials.
The Red Dawn is capable of a maximum speed of 14 knots with a cruising speed of 12 knots. The price tag for the 292-foot ship was more than $50 million.
Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc. (NYSE:HOS) is an offshore supply business headquartered at Covington, La., serving the oil and gas industry, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico and in select international markets, according to the company.
Todd Hornbeck, CEO of Hornbeck, told the crowd he was proud of the “marriage” between his company and Eastern and predicted a long and prosperous relationship for “many, many years.”
“When I see all the steel that was put together,” Hornbeck paused. “It is a humbling experience.”
Red Dawn Capt. Billy Haugh’s wife, Shandale, did the christening honors.
“I christen this vessel the HOS Red Dawn,” she said.
After a short countdown, the Red Dawn was launched into East Bay.
After the ceremony, Capt. Haugh said it a big responsibility captaining a ship.
“There usually are 15 guys you have to take care of,” said Haugh, who has been a captain with Hornbeck for the past 13 years. “There is a lot of machinery and new technology that will be on this vessel.”
Eastern Shipbuilding Group Inc. has two shipbuilding facilities in Bay County and has been in business since 1976 building, converting and repairing vessels in steel and aluminum of all types, including tugs, barges, offshore support vessels, research vessels, firefighting vessels, barges, ferries, passenger vessels, fishing vessels and towboats for both the commercial and government marine markets.
Eastern’s original shipyard was established in 1976 to construct commercial fishing boats for the company’s founder, Brian D’Isernia.