February 24 - Reports in the financial press indicate that Aker Philadelphia could eye wind turbine installation ships after its current contract to construct a series of product tankers is completed in 2012.

The yard, formerly the Kværner Philadelphia shipyard, is completing the construction of 12 product tankers for the American Shipping Company to be leased out to operators, including Shell Oil. The first ship under the deal was delivered in 2007.

Managers at the yard are understood to be seeking orders for ships after 2012 to secure the yard's future. There is a suggestion that an unsecured/option hull may be commenced this spring but that is subject to securing a firm order or construction funding for this ship.

Commentators are pointing out that one option for the yard might be the construction of turbine installation vessels (TIV) to help the burgeoning offshore renewable energy sector. Managers are understood to be evaluating a number of such projects.

One blow to the yard was the failure of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) to secure USD135 million in 'Tiger grant' funding to cover 30 percent of the anticipated USD450 million cost of constructing three TIVs at the yard. This was despite the potential client establishing a marine services affiliate to seek financing for the remaining 70 percent of construction costs and to oversee the construction, certification and operation of the vessels.

The TIGER discretionary grants are provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to promote the preservation and creation of jobs and the promotion of economic recovery by investment in US transportation infrastructure. The aim is to provide long-term economic benefits and assistance for those affected by the current economic downturn. Some USD1.5 billion is available until September, 2011.

The US Department of Transportation has called these grants for transport projects TIGER discretionary grants (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery).