Founded in 1955, when a group of investors led by the Laborde family of New Orleans, Louisiana constructed the Ebb Tide . The first offshore service vessel that was "tailor made" to support the new and growing offshore oil and gas industry. A year later, as the vessel Ebb Tide prepared to sail to work in the United States Gulf of Mexico, Tidewater Marine Service, Incorporated commenced operations, lead by John P. Laborde.
While Tidewater has built many vessels, the company has also grown by way of mergers and acquisitions, a technique employed by the company to rapidly increase its revenue base.
In 1992, Tidewater consummated a merger with Zapata Gulf Marine, doubling the size of the company's fleet. In 1996, Tidewater took in a major U.S. competitor, Hornbeck Offshore Services, Inc, adding ninety more vessels to its fleet. In 1997, the company acquired O.I.L. Limited, again significantly increasing the size of its fleet, specifically in the growing international arena.
Fifty five years, later and many vessels later, Tidewater remains a major company in the industry, following the search for oil and gas into increasingly deeper waters globally and extending the companies proven record of service to installations closer to land.
In 2000, Tidewater embarked on a $250 to $300 million new construction program that positions the company as a key supplier of vessels to support the deepwater exploration market. in 2001, the company's new build program is expanded to a $700 million plan.
In 2003, the company acquired twenty seven vessels from Ensco. In 2005, Tidewater's corporate office in New Orleans, Louisiana withstood Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. While the corporate office in New Orleans was closed for three months post Katrina, the company's U.S. shore based personnel successfully continue to operate from company facilities in Amelia, Louisiana and Houston, Texas.
In 2011, the crew of the Tidewater vessel Damon B. Bankston rescues all one hundred and fifteen survivors from the Deepwater Horizon incident in April of 2010.
Tidewater's fleet enhancement program continued, with over $600 million invested in new vessels during fiscal year of 2011.