Bouchard Transportation (Bouchard) has exercised an option with VT Systems subsidiary VT Halter Marine to build an additional articulated tug barge (ATB) unit for S$125m ($100m) following a contract signed in February 2013 for an ATB unit.

The barges will have a length of 190m, breadth of 27m, width of 14m and will be used for transporting liquid petroleum with a capacity of 250,000 barrels.

Both ATB units will be certified by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and United States Coast Guard (USCG) for Jones Act service.

ABS has classed the two 10,000hp twin screw ATB tugs as A1 Towing Vessel, Dual Mode ATB, USCG Subchapter M, and they will be fitted with Intercon coupler systems.

VT Halter Marine CEO Bill Skinner said: "Jones Act compliant vessels, such as these ATBs, are critical to the maritime industry, which is responsible for nearly 500,000 US jobs and more than $100bn in annual US economic output."

Construction of the first barge is scheduled to start in April 2013 at VT Halter Marine’s Pascagoula facility and the vessel is expected to be delivered in mid-2015.

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The construction of the second unit is slated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2013 with scheduled delivery in February 2016.

Following delivery both the vessels will enter Bouchard’s fleet service in New York, US.