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Tidewater Inc., a New Orleans-based offshore service vessel company, has emerged from bankruptcy protection under a prepackaged plan that wiped out an estimated $1.6 billion in debt and eliminated $73 million in annual interest and operating lease expenses.

Under the plan, Tidewater's lenders and senior note holders were to receive 95 percent of the stock in the reorganized company, as well as warrants — or rights to buy — company-issued shares based on the restructured firm's value.

Tidewater's lenders were to divvy up $225 million in cash and $350 million in new 8 percent fixed-rate secured notes.

The company filed a Chapter 11 petition in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware on May 17.

"Today marks the completion of a restructuring and recapitalization that allows the company to move forward with a solid financial foundation from which we expect to continue to strengthen our business and grow," Jeffrey Platt, Tidewater's president and CEO, said in a statement. "We now have the financial flexibility to continue to provide our customers with the safe, compliant, and efficient services that are the hallmark of our company."

Tidewater's history in New Orleans dates back more than six decades. Tidewater Marine Service was formed in the 1950s by a group of investors, led by the Laborde family, who developed the first offshore service vessel that was designed to support the nascent offshore drilling industry.

Like so many in the energy industry, Tidewater — which describes itself as "the leading provider of large offshore service vessels to the global energy industry" — has been hard-hit by a global slowdown in oil drilling activity and a prolonged slump in prices.

Since reaching about $115 per barrel in June 2014, oil prices have plunged to less than half of that, and hovered around $50 per barrel Monday.

During that period, Tidewater's stock slid from almost $55 per share in 2004 to less than a dollar. Shares closed at 96 cents Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.