Hvide Marine, the rapidly expanding Port Everglades shipping business, plans to go public this year.

The company hopes to raise as much as $75 million, Chairman J. Erik Hvide said last week after naming a new chief financial officer with experience in initial public offerings.John Blankley, who has been on Hvide's board since 1991, was chief

financial officer for British Petroleum in the United States and for Stolt Nielsen, the world's largest chemical tanker operator, which he took public in 1988. He succeeds Gerald Farmer, who has held the job since 1973.

"We have some very ambitious growth plans and tremendous opportunities," said Mr. Hvide, whose father, Hans, started the company in 1958 with two vessels. "But it is a capital intensive industry, and if one is going to grow, you have to have access to capital markets."

The firm now has 78 vessels and four global operating divisions - harbor and ocean towing, chemical transportation, fuel transportation and offshore energy - with estimated revenue of $60 million. The five-year acquisition program is designed to turn Hvide Marine into a $500 million company.

Mr. Hvide said the company intends to amend its Securities and Exchange

Commission filing this year, but he did not know the number of shares or offering price. In April 1994, the company planned to sell 3.5 million shares for about $17 each. But "when the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates, it had a rather dramatic effect on the new issues market," Mr. Hvide said. "1995 has definitely been a much better year."

Mr. Blankley said the market "is receptive to offerings in the shipping business only once in a while." He and Mr. Hvide cited a July public offering for international oil transporter Teekay Shipping Corp., which raised $129 million at $21.50 a share.

"The shipping industry has gone through some pretty tough times in the last five years. There's some anticipation the market is turning in their favor," said Forbes Tuttle, director of research for IPO Value Monitor, an independent investment firm.

But he said that depends on the company and where it operates. Teekay's principal business is in the growing Middle East and Far East markets.

Hvide covers three U.S. coasts and the Caribbean, as well as Southeast Asia and the Middle East, where, Mr. Hvide said, the company thinks there are opportunities, especially in offshore oil.