Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Company Profile: American Marine Corporation


January 1, 2020

The Lahaina Harbor Channel dredging project offload site. Photo courtesy of American Marine Corporation.

For nearly five decades, American Marine Corporation has built its reputation delivering specialty marine contracting, commercial diving, and vessel support services to public and private sector clients on the west coast and all over the world.

At the heart of the company is a drive to deliver safety and cost savings to clients.

"We take personal pride in providing the best value and service, which explains many of our decade long client relationships," the company told Pacific Maritime Magazine.

The company – whose client list includes BP Exploration Alaska and Conoco-Phillips Alaska – attributes that success to a number of factors, including its people – made up of skilled and experienced employees with high training and a diverse and unique knowledge to the regions in which they work – and a company-wide commitment to safety beyond industry standards.

American Marine also brings to the table experience in diving in extreme conditions, remote site marine construction, subsea pipeline maintenance and repair, offshore installations and maintenance, wide range of marine assets, specialized construction projects, emergency marine salvage and response, and specialized equipment.

That approach has brought results and a reputation for surpassing client expectations, developing long-standing client relationships, creative problem-solving and completing projects in a safe manner.

That kind of success doesn't happen overnight.

The company was forged in friendship and opportunity in the mid-1970's under the name "American Divers" by a group of young men, two of whom, Scott Vuillemot and Robert Shahnazarian, are still at the helm.

The business expanded offerings and locations based on opportunity. With an eye toward the west coast market, a regional office in Los Angeles opened in 1982. Pacific Environmental Corporation (PENCO) was formed in 1985 to offer emergency marine oil response services. In 1993, a third regional office opened in Alaska and was created to expand the west coast presence.

The company later became American Marine Corporation to reflect the consolidation of the companies. It represents the marine operations of the American Marine Services Group of companies that includes Pacific Environmental Corporation.

The move allowed American Marine to be known as a capable "Single Source Provider," melding marine construction, diving and vessel support under one banner to provide "Excellence in Operations" from early planning stages to final acceptance.

The business venture that began with a group of friends has become a business with a fleet of vessels and equipment and more than 200 employees operating out of regional offices in Honolulu, Los Angeles and Anchorage.

The company's scope goes beyond the west coast. The environmental arm under sister company Pacific Environmental Corporation has evolved into a nationally recognized group of professionals.

And while the American Marine Services Group offices are situated in the Pacific region, the company routinely works on the Gulf and East Coasts, North Slope Alaska and in Central America, as well as globally.

The company has a fleet of eight tugboats ranging from 600 BHP Harbor tugs to 4,000 BHP+ ocean going tugs with certified bollard pulls of more than 60 tons, as well as six crew boats, three barges, cranes and other equipment at its disposal to perform all kinds of work.

And that work has ranged from underwater welding and performing in-water surveys to providing towing support to government agencies and waterfront assistance for Hollywood clients such as Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures.

For example, AMC divers inspect and maintain the Port of Los Angeles underwater infrastructure almost every day of the year.

In that instance, a typical day would involve crewmembers receiving their assignment the previous day, said AMC Dive Operations Manager Michael Dunn.

AMC has maintained a facility at the port for more than 25 years. Its facility at Berth 270/271 has 1,250 linear feet of bulkhead within the protected waters of Fish Harbor.

The bulk of the work at the port could include fender and bearing pile inspection, repair and wrapping out new piles, as well as support the Harbor department pile driving barge and inspection activities as such marine fenders, slope surveys, camels, which are on an annual or biannual schedule, Dunn said.

And when it is needed, AMC responds to emergency diving services, Dunn said.

But for the most part, American Marine experiences few "typical" days or jobs in its line of work.

"That's part of the reason why people love this industry," according to Megan Keane, California region Vice President. "It's guaranteed that every day will be different and you will be constantly learning new things."

For AMC, most of the work is atypical.

"We usually get the call WHEN things go wrong, and if we're doing our jobs right, we ARE the solution, whether it's an oil spill that our sister company, PENCO, responds to, or an underwater emergency, like a leaking natural gas pipeline in the Cook Inlet, or resupplying an area that has been decimated by a natural disaster with tug and barge support," Keane said. "We have the people and the expertise to respond and offer our customers, both private and public, real solutions."

In the coming years, American Marine Corp. is excited for the future of its group of companies.

The prospect of offshore wind energy will be big for AMC, which is also looking at expanding into other locations as well.

"We are currently transitioning from the first to second generation," Keane told PMM, adding that the first generation built the company from their passions at the time, with the second generation planning to follow suit.

American Marine Corporation subcontracted to FOSS for the annual Molokai resupply project for the Kalaupapa leprosy settlement national park. Photo courtesy of American Marine Corporation.

"During that transition we are focusing on our core competencies and ensuring that we do what we do best, better than anyone else," she said.

American Marine Corp. said it is committed to managing its costs as the industry is rebounding from plummeting oil prices and major cuts to government spending that started in 2014.

"The last two years we have been recovering from that downturn," Keane said. "Our business is cyclical. We developed into offering the variety of services that we do because of that. There wasn't enough diving work to keep the company afloat in Hawaii when we first started so we developed a vessel services division. We grew by following the work and meeting the expanding needs of our customers. The story of how we got where we are today is a great one.

"Into the future we do hope to expand. In this industry, you can't become stagnant. You must keep growing if you want to survive."


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