Rolling on the River

Bayou Fleet offers a modern-day fleeting, vessel repair and cleaning facility.

As the company name suggests, Bayou Fleet — a moniker derived from a predecessor company that named all of its vessels and barges after Louisiana bayous—offers an array of services for the river barge industry. In addition to insured fleeting services, the company also offers shift boat services, barge cleaning, crew services, logistics and a full-service yard for off-loading and stockpiling aggregate material at its 85-acre facility in Hahnville. Brothers Robin and Peter Durant started Bayou Fleet in 1982, and they credit their success to having a dedicated philosophy of outperforming the status quo with value-added services and building long-term customer relationships over the years.

As part of the facility, the M/V Bayou Larose serves as the operation center where dispatch, management of fleet traffic and comprehensive logistics take place. The vessel was constructed in 1949 and, in later years, it reached a state of honorable discharge. However, Robin envisioned creating a unique structure that would attract the attention of mariners transiting the river. After substantial renovations, the refurbished vessel now also stands as a monument to mariners on the Mississippi River. And while the Bayou Larose is hub of operations, most of the action takes place on the river, and at the wash dock and full-service yard.

Bayou Fleet maintains three versatile shift boats that assist barges and are available for hire — all with names that stay true to Louisiana’s rich bayou landscape — including the 65-foot M/V Bayou Black, the 64-foot M/V Bayou Piquant and the 53-foot M/V Bayou Couba. Other primary fleet capabilities include barge-to-barge transfers, launch service for deliveries or crew transfer and barge heating. Bayou Fleet also offers a safe supply drop area, storage rental units and a truck ramp for direct vessel access. For the company, it all comes down to convenience — a word that is seldom used in the river barge industry.

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A major part of that convenience comes down to its 24/7 crew services, which include vessel access at any river stage with a safe and secure dock barge, a crew lounge (that doubles as an area where training and safety meetings can take place), potable water access, crane service (a knuckle boom for small lifts and a 30-ton crane at the wash dock), free garbage disposal, mail drop (including UPS and FedEx) and pollution response (including routine and emergency spill supplies).

At the wash dock, Bayou Fleet can clean barges that transport coal, rock, concentrates or grain. And at the full-service yard, contractors can off-load aggregate material in an area that is easily accessible to all major highways in the river region.

Bayou Fleet has formed several strategic partnerships with third-party vendors that operate at the facility in order to enhance the customer experience while awaiting dock space at any of the local chemical plants, tank farms, grain elevators or other local destinations. In addition to barge fleeting, crew changes, vessel repairs, third-party auditor access, customer access to their vessels and other amenities, these partnerships add value to those customers who are standing by and awaiting service for their barges and vessels. There is also a stripping plant and pipeline testing vendor, a dry cargo barge cleaning and topside repair service, a tank barge stripping and cleaning service, and a mobile marine fueling service that’s capable of transferring fuel from tanker trucks to docked vessels and barges. These types of offerings allow customers the option to complete needed repairs or receive services that would otherwise take time away from revenue-generating vessel usage. Through these partnerships, Bayou Fleet is able to distinguish itself from the local competition.

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And while building lasting customer relationships is the company’s main goal, its values extend beyond that of its customer base. The Durants have maintained a philosophy of commitment, cooperation and service. These values are evident in Bayou Fleet Farms, a neighboring 160-acre tract of land in rural Hahnville where the company stables horses (many of which were rescued by local animal rights and advocacy agencies). The farm is also home to cattle and fowl, and numerous crops such as corn, tomatoes and citrus — all of which are good-natured offerings to the company’s vessel crews.

Wildlife preservation also is at the forefront of the company’s focus, and Bayou Fleet’s property has been designated as a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. With a number of natural and sustainable micro-environments, from uncut brush piles and cypress stands to thickets and ponds, the riparian property serves as a mini-refuge for wildlife.


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