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ARM MERCHANT SHIPS?
Should merchant ships transiting high risk areas carry small arms for defense against pirates?

Selected crew should be trained and have guns available
Professional armed security teams should be hired
No guns on merchant ships, ever

June 22, 2009

Signal International enters deck barge market

Signal International, LLC is to build a 300 ft x 100 ft ocean deck barge for Signet Maritime Corporation. The barge will be built at Signal's Orange, Texas, shipyard, with delivery scheduled for the first quarter 2010. Signal says that large deck barges are to be a continued product line for Orange, with multiple designs currently being offered.

The yard in Orange has undergone a major transformation to bring its marine and heavy manufacturing capability to world-class standards. Significant capital investment and process changes over the past two years have focused on improving the workflow within the nearly 500,000 square foot covered manufacturing area and on increasing automation. Under a continuous flow manufacturing initiative developed in-house by Signal, costs and schedule have been dramatically reduced with no sacrifice in quality or safety. Signal has worked almost 700,000 hours through May without a recordable safety incident. During this same period the welding reject rate was less than one-half percent.

"Signal's expansion into the large deck barge market is a natural for our operations in Orange," says Dick Marler, Signal's CEO and President, "The Orange yard has built barges in the past and we still have experienced production and management personnel who were part of that effort."

"We have challenged our workforce to develop new methods and tools to be successful in a competitive market," he added. "With low steel prices and our vastly improved productivity now is the time for potential customers to take a hard look at expanding their fleets with a Signal product."

Barry Snyder, President of Signet Maritime, noted that, "Signet is optimistic about our market for ocean-going deck barges. Jointly, Signal and Signet have developed a superior extra heavy deck strength design to minimize the customer's need for load equalization that will be in high demand to work in the offshore market. Our design features a 5,000-pound per square foot deck strength for large loads and a radial bow, reducing residual resistance for efficient towing. This will not be the last barge of this type that we will order."

"We looked at a number of barge builders and selected Signal due to their insistence on superior quality, competitive price, building approach, and up to date facilities," said Mr. Snyder. "We were particularly pleased with what we saw at Orange where the entire facility had been revamped. When I visited with the Signal personnel and watched their process as we cut the first plate, I was impressed. The emphasis is on processing steel as efficiently as possible. Virtually every step in that process has been improved to wring out unnecessary costs. I feel confident that Signal will become a leader in vessel construction of this type."


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