The Life of Construction Managers
Vessel construction managers are the unsung heroes of each new vessel build. These individuals oversee everything, down to the smallest detail, for the process of a vessel new build, retrofit, or conversion. Vessel construction managers must relocate frequently, sometimes work in less-than-ideal conditions, and often work unconventional hours. Vessel construction management isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s a career where people like Crowley’s Nick Loeffler and Patrick Sperry thrive.
Construction managers must also navigate the new world of COVID-19, which has impacted many industries including vessel construction. The virus has caused a shortage of workers and supplies which can make the already complex vessel construction process that much more difficult. There have also been surges in the price of steel, delays in obtaining the most general daily consumables, and other vital resources which further complicates the process.
Vessel construction is a unique environment where shipyard management and ship owners, or their representative in the shipyard can clash. These relationships often manifest animosity and hostility. However, Crowley understands there is a better way to conduct business.
“We believe that working as a team with the shipyard, yields a much better result for everyone involved,” said Sperry, director construction management for Crowley Engineering Services. “Crowley’s extensive level of experience typically helps us find common ground with the shipyard to help everyone achieve success.”
Crowley’s main goal with any vessel construction project is to deliver an exceptional vessel that meets all of the pre-determined specifications. But they understand that this doesn’t have to come at the expense of a great working relationship. Crowley often works with shipyards over and over which provides an extra layer of knowledge about the people the customer will work with. Vice President of Construction Management Ray Martus and his team understand the importance of flexibility and mutual respect.
The First Step on the Path to Success
The first step of a vessel construction project is the signing of the contract with the shipyard. This must happen before anything else because it ensures that the customer is guaranteed everything that they require. An important step like this requires an excellent team to make sure it’s done right. That’s where having a company like Crowley comes in handy. Crowley is an excellent representative for the vessel owner’s side because people like Martus, Sperry, and Loeffler will make sure that the contract properly aligns with the vision of the vessel’s intended purpose.
“A clear construction contract keeps the construction manager and the shipyard on the same page,” said Loeffler, director, Project Management Office (PMO). “A good contract really starts the project off on the right foot.”
Crowley’s construction managers also understand that the contract shouldn’t significantly favor one party over the other. Crowley’s long history in the maritime industry makes them the ideal company to negotiate the perfect compromise between both parties. This part of the process further emphasizes the importance of a good relationship with the shipyard management.
The Best in the Business
It is vital to have a construction manager onsite for every project to ensure that the customer will receive the exact vessel they were contracted to build. The construction manager makes sure that every detail of the vessel is exactly as promised prior to completion of the project.
Crowley’s construction managers remain on site every day to stay updated on the progress of the build. This allows for them to better anticipate and resolve any possible issues or complications before they become a problem. Crowley also owns and manages over 200 vessels, which allows a deep understanding of high-performance vessels.
Crowley also provides excellent engineers and designers to bring the customer’s vision to life. These individuals will arrive on scene for the project before the construction management team. This allows Crowley to provide its expertise from start to finish on every project.
Most construction management teams are made up of individual inspectors who specialize in structure, piping, electrical systems, machinery, or coating. It is important to have inspectors with different specialties so that there is an expert for every stage of the project. These inspectors will work directly with industry classification bodies and U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that the vessel meets all requirements.
Crowley chooses to focus on the little details that contribute to the larger picture because they know that each part of the construction process is important to the success of the project. Over its 129-year history, Crowley has proven to be one of the best in the business. Attention to detail and taking the time to build meaningful relationships are just a couple reasons why customers choose to work with Crowley.
Thriving in Spite of Adversity
The Arctic Fjord of the Seattle-based Arctic Storm Management Group is just one of many examples of why people choose Crowley. Crowley began working on the fishing and processing vessel in September 2018, with increased participation as the project progressed.
Crowley diligently oversaw the build during the COVID-19 pandemic as the clients were unable to travel from the west coast to see the vessel for over a year. However, work on the vessel pushed on and the Arctic Fjord is expected to take delivery in 2022.
“I would say this is likely one of the most complex new build projects being currently built in the U.S.,” said Sperry.
The vessel will operate in the Pacific Northwest and north up to Alaska; it also has accommodations for 152 people. Crowley currently has five inspectors on-site who manage the vessel’s construction.
“When we decided to begin fleet replacement, we decided to contract for construction management for our first project. While we employ vessel construction expertise, we don’t have these resources available to dedicate to a multi-year project,” explains Doug Christensen, president and CEO of Arctic Storm Management. “We chose Crowley Engineering Services because of their extensive U.S. Shipyard experience and the expertise of their team members. After nearly three years of working together on our first replacement project there is no doubt to the value added by the CES team.”