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EBB TIDE – FIRST MODERN SUPPLY VESSEL ENTERS SERVICE IN 1956

By 1947, drilling was begun in waters of the Gulf of Mexico over 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Rigs had to be supplied with drilling mud, cement, water, spare parts, groceries and people, all of which required transport. Initially, surplus World War II vessels, wooden fishing boats, shrimp trawlers, and oyster luggers were used. Alden J. Laborde, visionary of the offshore drilling industry in Louisiana, realized that these vessels were inadequate to meet the growing need of the offshore drilling industry. With a group of ten investors, he designed and constructed the first purpose-built offshore supply vessel, Ebb Tide, for $225,000. The design of the vessel was larger than the ex-Navy boats, with considerably more power. The Ebb Tide was 115 ft in length, with a beam of 31 ft and a draught of 8.5 ft. The wheelhouse, scavenged from an old tug was installed on a short forecastle, leaving the entire after deck open for placing cargo that could be easily hoisted up by the rig’s crane equipment. The supply boat entered service in 1956 for the newly formed Tidewater Company and proved its worth immediately. Ebb Tide was later followed by three sister-ships, all owned by Tidewater. The introduction of the jackup rigs and later the semi-submersibles, required supply boats to develop new techniques and the configuration of the Ebb Tide proved ideal. The opening of the North Sea in 1966 imposed requirement on the design of those small ships to match an hostile environment and increasing water depths. The adaptable simplicity of the Ebb Tide was capitalized upon to meet those new challenges. (Source: Tidewater)