Kirby Expands Tank Barge Fleet – Good for Some, Not for All

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December 16, 2011

Houston-based tank barge operator Kirby Corporation (NYSE:KEX) announced yesterday that the company has purchased Seaboats, Inc. and affiliated companies consisting of three 80,000-barrel coastwise tank barge and tug units. The three coastwise tank barge and tug units, which currently operate along the East Coast and have an average age of five years, were purchased for $42.3 million in cash through Kirby’s $250 million revolving credit facility.

Joe Pyne, Kirby’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement:

“The purchase of Seaboats’ coastwise fleet consisting of three 80,000 barrel tank barge units furthers our objective of growing our offshore tank barge fleet. The three tank barges are sister barges, built to the same design as our four 80,000 barrel tank barges and will expand our fleet capacity, service capabilities to our customers and provide additional flexibility.”

Unfortunately, one man’s opportunity is another’s loss in this case.  According to an anonymous commentor on the gCaptain forum, 30+ employees from Seaboats, Inc. have lost their jobs as a result of the sale, which was a “major surprise” to those let go.

Kirby Corporation, based in Houston, Texas, is the nation’s largest domestic tank barge operator, transporting bulk liquid products throughout the Mississippi River System, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, coastwise along all three United States coasts and in Alaska and Hawaii.

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