Hornbeck Offshore Services, Inc. (HOS) announced that its Board of Directors has approved a new vessel construction program for its wholly-owned subsidiary, Hornbeck Offshore Services, LLC. The Company plans to build sixteen U.S.-flagged 300 class DP-2 new generation offshore supply vessels ("OSV") for its Upstream business segment with options to build an additional 16 substantially similar vessels should future market conditions warrant their construction.
This will be the Company's eighth vessel newbuild program since its inception in 1997, and its fifth newbuild program involving state-of-the-art, technologically advanced new generation OSVs. The Company expects the aggregate cost of the first 16 vessels under this program to be approximately $720 million, excluding construction period interest. Construction costs will be funded with cash on-hand, projected free cash flow from operations, other external financing and, if necessary, available capacity under the Company's currently undrawn and recently expanded $300 million revolving credit facility.
Delivery of the first 16 vessels to be constructed under this program is expected to occur on various dates during 2013 and 2014, which should coincide with the delivery of approximately 145 incremental floaters and high-specification jack-up drilling rigs, currently under construction worldwide, during the same timeframe. Upon completion of the first phase of this OSV newbuild program at the end of 2014, the Company projects that the weighted-average age, based on deadweight tons, of its pro forma 67-vessel fleet of new generation OSVs will be seven years. The Company is now in the process of finalizing negotiations with selected domestic shipyards and expects to enter into definitive contracts in the near future.
These new 300 class OSVs are particularly well-suited for the increased demands of deepwater and ultra-deepwater customers for high-specification vessels, while maintaining an overall size that maximizes efficiency from an operating cost perspective. These vessels will be built in the United States, which qualifies them for coastwise trade in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, or the GoM, under the Jones Act; however, the Company expects them to service the anticipated increase in deepwater and ultra-deepwater drilling activity in all three of the Company's core geographic markets of the GoM, Brazil and Mexico.
The 300 class DP-2 vessel design contemplated by this newbuild program features 6,000 deadweight tons and 20,000 barrels of liquid mud carrying capacity. The length and high load capacity of these OSVs also make them ideal candidates for conversion into deepwater construction service and for subsea inspection, repair and maintenance work. The Company expects these new 300 class vessels to offer double the deadweight tons and more than double the liquid mud capacity of its 240 class OSVs, which should allow the 300 class OSVs to command higher dayrates commensurate with their increased size and capabilities.