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BPA eyes autonomous ships in new project

Article by Rebecca Moore, Tug, Technology and Business

British Ports Association (BPA) has announced a new Port Futures project to examine emerging threats and opportunities for British ports.

The rolling programme of activity – labelled Horizon – will address key issues for ports over the next 50 years, including infrastructure and skills, grouped around four key drivers of change:

  • Technology and automation.
  • Climate change and the environment.
  • Politics, regulation and the law.
  • Social and economic change.

Individual projects around key emerging challenges for ports will be launched under each theme, drawing in experts from industry and academia. The outcome will be a rolling programme of recommendations for government, feeding into initiatives such as Maritime 2050 and the Industrial Strategy.

British Ports Association policy manager Mark Simmonds said “Today’s world is marked by rapid and at times unpredictable change, and as an industry we are keen to play our part in shaping that change as much as possible and being ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

“This exciting programme will focus minds across industry and government on key long-term challenges, such as what port infrastructure will be needed to accommodate the vessels of the future. Will the current trend towards ever-larger ships continue? Or will autonomous vessels herald more but more numerous traffic into our ports?”

Maritime UK, an umbrella group representing industry, recently launched its own futures plan and will be closely tied in with the BPA’s Port Horizon programme.,bpa-eyes-autonomous-ships-in-new-project_50786.htm

2018: A year of tug advancements

Article by Martyn Wingrove

Welcome to my 2018 preview of the global tugboat sector. This year we will see the fruition of the innovations in tug technology and operations developed in 2017. There should also be innovations in power and performance to look forward to.

Innovative designs trump conventional tugboats

A prime example of innovative design is the first commercial Carrousel Rave tug.

Multraship Towage and Salvage’s Multratug 32 harbour tug is set to commence commercial operations in the Benelux area. It combines Voith propulsion in an inline configuration with a Robert Allan-designed low-drag hull and a carrousel towing system developed by Novatug.

If Multratug 32 and its sister tug Multratug 33 successfully demonstrate their operational benefits, there could be a clamour from other tug operators to order similarly designed tugboats.

There are other tug design innovations that could also gain success, but most of these are variants of existing designs, except perhaps the powerhouse tug concept.

We highlighted this design from an independent Asian naval architect in the fourth quarter 2017 issue of Tug Technology & Business. There are applications where having a powerhouse tug and barge unit would make sense, because of the low initial capital expenditure required.

Higher power speculative newbuilding

In 2018, we will see shipyards building more speculative newbuildings with bollard pulls of more than 80 tonnes, and perhaps up to 90 tonnes as they recognise that owners need more powerful tugs. There are commercial opportunities for shipyards and owners in this growing trend.

Tugs of up to 90 tonnes bollard pull will be needed to handle the largest container ships, which have reached capacities of 22,000 TEU, and the growing number of liquefied natural gas (LNG) import and export terminals. LNG carriers cannot wait on weather and nor can tankers, thus there will be pressure on tugs to operate around the clock in some of the toughest weather and sea conditions to provide escort and ship handling services. All this leads to design innovation.

LNG versus hybrid

Other innovations around tugboat design and construction will come from owners turning to alternative fuels and energy storage devices. I expect the drive for LNG-fuelled tugs will come from those operating in LNG hubs, such as Singapore, where new tugboats are set to be introduced in 2018.

Elsewhere, there will be a drive by owners to introduce hybrid propulsion systems on newbuildings. These incorporate diesel-electric engines and battery packs, which can be combined to provide enough power during towage operations. But, during general harbour operations and idle periods tugs can be powered by batteries alone.

Hybrid propulsion technology can include electric drives, DC hubs and permanent magnet motors to drive highly efficient thrusters.

Salvage advances

With more giant-sized container ships on the world’s seas, comes more risk of groundings and maritime accidents. As a few accidents in 2017 showed, a grounded 22,000 TEU container ship holds huge risks to a salvor. There is the risk that even a fleet of tugs will not be able to refloat one of these huge box ships.

We may also see our first maritime accident involving an LNG-fuelled ship, not necessarily an LNG carrier, but one of the growing number of commercial ships running on gas. As we highlighted in 2017, an LNG-fuelled ship would pose considerable risk and challenges to salvors if it crashed.

To counter these risks, salvage companies are likely to generate new advances, order more powerful tugs and deliver for the shipping community. If only this investment was recognised by shipowners and insurers.

A drive on tug safety

A run of accidents involving tugs and pilot boats shows there needs to be improvements in maritime safety, whether this comes from re-education of tugboat crews, changes to towage guidance, or methods of transferring pilots. Changes need to come for the safety of the towage and tugboat industry worldwide.

It is not just a regional problem. There were reports of fatal accidents from around the world in 2017. This must stop in 2018. For the safety of tugboat crews, pilots and other seafarers there needs to be a drive to improve towage and pilot transfer safety in 2018.,2018-a-year-of-tug-advancements_50376.htm

Five technologies to change tug operations forever

Editor Martyn Wingrove (Tug, Technology and Business) examines the top five emerging technologies that he considers will affect tug construction and operations in the long term

Technology continues to change the tugboat industry, usually for the better, but up to now it has been on the mechanical side. This is all changing as IT-related technologies are emerging that should have positive impacts on the sector.

Here are the top five emerging technology trends that will have a major influence on the towage industry in the long term. These should generate operational benefits to tug owners, designers and builders in the future.


Airborne drones could be used in tugboat operations for survey and remote movement of equipment. Tug operator Kotug plans to become the first company to use drone technology to assist in towage operations. It has applied for a patent to use them to assist in ship handling operations and expects this will lead to safer and more efficient working conditions.

Kotug will test remote-controlled flying devices to connect a towline to an assisted vessel. Drones will deliver a messenger line to a predetermined location through the use of object recognition software. The tug’s messenger line would then be brought to the assisted ship in a controlled process and the crew on the assisted ship would heave in the mooring line itself.

This would enable the tug to sail safely beside the assisted ship instead of having to enter a dangerous zone in front of that vessel. Kotug intends to develop standard operating procedures for using drones and will run a series of tests in 2018.

Drones can also be used in salvage projects as they can be flown over maritime casualties to survey the damage and for identifying and tracking oil spillages and other pollution from maritime accidents.

Sensors can be installed on a drone to record other parameters of a spillage or of a maritime casualty that could be useful for clean-up and salvage operations. For example, these could test for gas emissions or sense a casualty’s temperature before salvors move in. Larger drones could be equipped with chemical sprays for dispersing oil spillages.


3D printing

Manufacturing companies are developing more advanced 3D printing techniques that will produce propellers and machinery that could be deployed on tugs. A future involving 3D-printed components moved a step closer to reality in Q4 2017 when a prototype propeller was completed by Rotterdam Additive Manufacturing Lab (RAMLAB).

It worked in collaboration with Damen Shipyards Group, Promarin, Autodesk and Bureau Veritas to develop a WAAMpeller, a 1,350 mm diameter propeller. This was fabricated from a nickel aluminium bronze alloy at RAMLAB using the wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) method, based on a Valk welding system and Autodesk software.

The triple-blade structure used a Promarin design that is fitted to Damen’s Stan Tug 1606 design. After its production was completed, it was milled at Autodesk’s advanced manufacturing facility in Birmingham, UK, using machines with computer numerical control.

3D-printed items are built up layer by layer, which means almost any object can be produced. But the material will have different physical properties from similar objects manufactured from steel or cast materials, which is why class society Bureau Veritas has tested the properties of printed material to ensure its compliance.

This first prototype WAAMpeller will be used for display purposes and planning for a second example is already underway for production this year. It should not be long before a WAAMpeller, or one similar to it, is installed on a tug.

Another Dutch additive manufacturing company, Connecting Engineering and Design (CEAD), is preparing to produce maritime products using a new continuous fibre additive manufacturing (CFAM) machine. This industrial-scale unit will be able to print with engineering plastics and continuous carbon fibre composites to produce objects and equipment for shipbuilding, yachts and workboats.

CEAD expects the first CFAM prototype will be ready by the middle of this year. It will be installed in the offices of Poly Products, which produces composite products for the maritime industry. Poly Products plans to use this printer to fabricate large-scale products and prototypes and then seek customer feedback.

CEAD has also ordered a second CFAM 3D printer to be deployed in 2019 at the premises of marine engineering company Royal Roos. This has been designed for manufacturing marine products from composite materials.

Huisman has gone a stage further and tested the world’s first 3D printed offshore crane hook. This was manufactured through WAAM 3D printing in 2017 and was successfully load-tested to 80 tonnes in the first week of this year.

WAAM printing produced components with high grade tensile steel, including a large 4-prong hook with a weight of around 1,000 kg. Huisman plans to manufacture other components with complex shapes using a WAAM 3D printer. It said the costs are similar to steel forgings and castings but the delivery time is shorter. Huisman intends to increase the manufacturing capabilities up to items of 2,500 kg printed weight.


Augmented reality

AR is being developed for maritime applications and has been demonstrated on ship bridges and remote operating centres to deliver different levels of information to end-users. Although tugboat wheelhouses are smaller than commercial shipping, AR could have applications to improve situation awareness for tug masters.

Information can be delivered through projections on bridge windows, perhaps to provide accurate distance to an assisted ship and other hazards. Or this information could be displayed using specially-designed spectacles.

Rolls-Royce is using AR technology in its remote operating centre demonstrator in Svitzer’s offices in Copenhagen, Denmark. This involves presenting additional information on the route that the tug is heading and about the nearby hazards.

Another application for AR is in training simulators. It can be combined with virtual reality and 3D visual technology to improve the simulation of real-life events. Transas already has 3D visuals in its tug training simulator and Videotel is developing virtual reality for training ship engineers.

Offshore Simulator Centre (OSC) has demonstrated how simulation can be enhanced through AR at its facilities in Ålesund, Norway, which Tug Technology & Business visited in November 2017. AR tools can also be used for providing real-time analysis to towage operations and advice to vessel operators.

At that time, OSC chief executive Joel Mills said AR extends the boundaries of simulation so that users can monitoring live operations remotely and provide advice on complex operations. “The realm of augmented tools take us in new directions and open more doors to give operators advantages over real life,” he said. For example, AR tools could indicate stresses on lifting and mooring lines.


Smart marine ecosystems

Port operations are becoming more integrated, with tug operations being further interconnected with ship arrivals and departures and quayside activities. In the future this will become more advanced as smart ecosystems are introduced.

This involves more automatic management of tugs and pilots to become better optimised to the requirements of ship escort and manoeuvring in ports. Tugs will be positioned in advance of ship arrivals, which will be timed for the period when quayside facilities are available. It will mean tugs will be increasingly integrated with terminal and port operations.

Wärtsilä Marine Solutions revealed its own smart marine ecosystem vision in November 2017. It intends to orchestrate developments in e-navigation, ship and port optimisation, industry digitalisation and vessel remote management to bring this vision into reality.

At the launch event, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions president Roger Holm said harnessing this technology would lead to operational benefits to all shipping. He expects the opportunities offered through smart technology “will foster a new era of collaboration and knowledge sharing with shipowners, suppliers and partners.”

This will involve elements of ship-to-port communications, real-time system monitoring, intelligent navigation, smart ports and vessel remote control. Mr Holm expects smart ports will result in smoother and faster port operations.

Wärtsilä Marine Solutions director for strategy and business development Mauro Sacchi said at the seminar that the route to smart marine ecosystems would also include the opening of digital acceleration centres, such as the ones opened in 2017 in Helsinki, Finland and in Singapore. Wärtsilä plans to open more digital acceleration centres in 2018, one in Central Europe and the other in North America.

One example of how a smart marine ecosystem could operate, albeit at a lower-level of automatic management, is how Panama Canal Authority is optimising tug operations through a new planning and resource management platform. This was developed by Quintiq and brought online in 2017 (Tug Technology & Business, Q3 2017).

Panama Canal Authority uses this to improve the management of its existing tug fleet and scheduling of shipments through the expanded canal. It has seen reductions in ship waiting times, better management of ship transits and of its towage assets, pilots and line handlers.


Industrial IoT 

Internet of things (IoT) is making inroads into commercial shipping for predicting failure of machinery and tracking containers. This has the potential to be extended into tugs and towage operations for condition monitoring, machinery tracking and optimised maintenance. There could be more accurate tracking of tugs and barge cargo as part of smart ports in the future.

This is all enabled when sensors and machine-to-machine communications is deployed on tug systems. Various parameters can be measured and data transmitted to a central storage server for analysis. Tug operators can use this data to produce machinery performance and condition information and predict failures.

Caterpillar Marine’s asset intelligence branch has developed methods of doing this analysis from its own onboard machinery. Caterpillar asset intelligence business development manager Bert Ritscher expects operators of harbour tugs could save more than US$230,000 in annual operating expenditure by using this analysis to “prevent equipment failures, reduce fuel costs and optimise maintenance.”

He explained at a seminar in Rotterdam in November that analysis of data enables Caterpillar to identify issues, such as fuel leakages or fuel pump problems, and identify the root causes of machinery problems.

“We can avoid catastrophic engine breakdowns and safety issues,” he said, adding that “crew need to trust in this data analytics and act on advice” for example to replace pumps before failure.

Continued development of IoT technology using deep learning computers and high-volume data analytics on shore will deliver greater benefits for tug operators in 2018.

There is also potential to improve cargo towage and ‘pushing’ in coastal and inland waterways through enhanced tracking. Tug operations could be optimised if cargo owners can track their assets, such as containers, through IoT.,five-technologies-to-change-tug-operations-forever_50498.htm

Tugs help drive Panama Canal tonnage to record levels

Source: Tug, Technology and Business

Expanded Panama Canal has seen record levels of cargo tonnage transits

Tonnage of cargo flowing through the Panama Canal has risen to record levels following the opening of expanded facilities and use of more powerful tugs. The Panama Canal Authority said 403.8M tonnes had transited the canal, the highest volume in its 103-year history.

This represents a 22.2% increase in cargo volumes over the fiscal year ended 30 September compared with the 2016 fiscal year (FY2016). This is due to new canal infrastructure and new tugs enabling larger ships to transit between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and Caribbean.

During the last 12 months, 13,548 vessels transited the canal, which represented a 3.3% rise compared to FY2016. The size of vessels using the canal has also increased. In August 2017, post-panamax container ship CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, with 14,863 TEU became the largest ship to transit the canal to date. In September, Cosco Yantian was the 2,000th post-panamax ship transit.

New tugs have been chartered to assist with the transits. In May, Saam Smit Towage acquired new azimuth stern drive (ASD) tug, SST Portobelo, from Damen Shipyards to boost its Panama fleet. Meyers’ Group has ordered two ASD tugs from Damen to operate in the expanded Panama Canal.

Panama Canal Authority has introduced a planning and resource management system from Quintiq for better vessel scheduling and resource management. In September, the authority and other Panamanian organisations introduced Panama’s Maritime Single Window to streamline logistics administration for international customers.

BOLUDA FRANCE Tugs Shift France’s First Floating Wind Turbine

Source: Maritime Executive 

On Thursday October 12, in Saint Nazaire’s harbour, BOLUDA Nantes Saint Nazaire’s tugs VB Croisic and VB Ouragan assured shifting operations of France’s first floating wind turbine.

This highly successful maneuver corroborates BOLUDA FRANCE’s strategy to invest in multifunctional tugs capable of answering to the high demands of marine renewable energy project developers in France.

With its extraordinary dimensions of 36 meters by 36 meters, its depth of 7.5 meters and its weight of 5000 tons, shifting the complex structure of the FLOATGEN wind turbine constituted a technical and maritime challenge which made it necessary for us to adapt our usual towage manoeuvres. BOLUDA FRANCE’s highly qualified teams met this challenge with flawless ease.

The success of this operation confirms the know-how of Boluda France’s on-shore teams and tug crews, and it strengthens the group’s experience in preparing and conducting transportation and installation projects of MRE structures.

The growing demand for this type of towage operation stimulates BOLUDA FRANCE to continue its research for solutions and development, in order to better assist its clients in general and particularly marine renewable energies.

Robert Allan designs hybrid icebreaking tug

Source: Tug, Technology and Business

A TundRA 3600-H tug that was designed for operating in extreme climate conditions in the Gulf of Bothnia

Robert Allan has designed a hybrid propulsion and icebreaking tug that is being built by Spain’s Gondán Shipyard for the Port of Luleå in Sweden. This will be a TundRA 3600-H tug that is designed for operating in extreme climate conditions in the northern Gulf of Bothnia.

This hybrid tug will assist and escort ships to and from the port and provide coastal towage, icebreaking, ice management, fire-fighting and emergency support. It will be capable of breaking ice with a thickness of 1 m at a speed of 3 knots.

Gondán Shipyard will build this 36 m tug with a with a hull structure that exceeds Finnish-Swedish ice class rules and has high environmental standards. The tug will be classed by Lloyd’s Register.

Robert Allan said it developed the hullform from similar TundRA icebreaking tugs that it designed for Svitzer for operations in Sakhalin Island, eastern Russia. The hull is also similar to ice-class tugs built for Group Ocean’s tugs operating in eastern Canada.

It will be equipped with a hybrid propulsion unit, which the port authority has requested. This will include two diesel main engines, shaft-generators/motors and batteries for energy storage. It will have a bollard pull of 90 tonnes when using both main engines in diesel-mechanical mode.


Icebreaking tug particulars

Design:            TundRA 3600-H

Length, oa:      36 m

Breadth, mld:  13 m

Depth:             6.7 m

Bollard Pull:    90 tonnes

Total power:    2x 3,100 kW

Accommodation: 10 people

Svitzer to gather data with ‘black boxes’ in tugs

Source: Daily Cargo News

TOWAGE operator Svitzer announced plans for driving innovation over the coming year, with installing devices known as black boxes on aeroplanes.

At the company’s annual stakeholder event, Svitzer Australia managing director Steffen Risager said the company would develop innovations that would increase productivity and safety across the industry.

“You will see us launch further initiatives in the near-term future, specifically driven by voice data recorders that on planes are known as black boxes, we’ll start introducing them onto tugs,” he said.

“That will give us new opportunities to pick up more data, and that data we will happily share with our customers and with port authorities – we have to work together to work out how best to deliver value from this.”

Mr Risager during his speech spoke about Svitzer’s highlights over the past year, including significant investment in equipment, vessels and training and also a couple of dramatic rescues.

“We have also demonstrated our capabilities in leadership in difficult situations during the year. Most publicly was the Norwegian Star which was floating off the shores of Victoria with nothing less than 2000 passengers aboard,” he said.

“Also, less known was the Asphalt Seminole, drifting off the Northern Beaches here in Sydney fully laden with asphalt. Our crew mustered in a very short time and got out and arrested the vessel before serious damage took place.”

 Wilson Sons Shipyards delivers SST-Aruá

Source: Maritime Executive 

Brand new tugboat by Wilson Sons

Wilson Sons shipyard, part of the WilsonSons Group, has delivered yet another tugboat.

Wilson Sons shipyard, part of the WilsonSons Group, has delivered another tugboat. The SST-Aruá is the second tugboat delivered to SAAM SMIT Towage Brazil and is part of a total order of four vessels. The first of the series the SST-Aimoré was delivered in June this year.

“It took just over 18 months to deliver the second tugboat from the moment of signing the contract. In a challenging time for the shipbuilding industry, WilsonSons shipyard could again show their strength and resilience,“ said Adalberto Souza, director of Wilson Sons shipyard. “Contractually we had 20 months for the delivery of the two tugboats but on the request of the customer, we anticipated the construction, keeping the contractual obligations and the highest market standards for health safety environment and quality (HSEQ).”

The SST-Aruá was built in Guarujá (SP). The tugboat has 24 meters in length, 11 meters in beam and a bollard pull of 71tonnes. The project has been designed by Damen Shipyards.

“Again, we are very satisfied with this cooperation, with the quality of the vessel and with the commitment of WilsonSons shipyard in the anticipation of these deliveries, which will begin to operate in the port of Santos,” said Pieter van Stein, CEO SAAM SMIT Towage Brasil.

Next to this delivery, in total two in 2017, WilsonSons shipyard has another four tugboats in their order book for delivery up to 2019, being two tugboats for SAAM SMIT and another two for Wilson Sons Rebocadores.

Wilson Sons delivers new tug to SAAM Smit

Source: Tug, Technology and Business

SST-Aruá is an azimuth stern drive tug with 71 tonnes of bollard pull

Wilson Sons shipyard has delivered second Damen-designed tug to SAAM Smit Towage Brazil. SST-Aruá is the second tugboat in a series of four that were ordered from Wilson Sons Group.

It is a 24 m azimuth stern drive tug with a bollard pull of 71 tonnes and is the sister tug to SST-Aimoré, which was delivered in June this year.

“It took just over 18 months to deliver the second tugboat from the moment of signing the contract,” said Wilson Sons shipyard director Adalberto Souza. He said this was two months quicker than the contract required. SST-Aruá was built in Guarujá. Wilson Sons shipyard has another four tugboats in its orderbook for delivery up to 2019 – two more for SAAM Smit and another two for Wilson Sons Rebocadores.

Innovations in tug design and propulsion

Source: Tug, Technology and Business

Robert Allan president and chief executive Mike Fitzpatrick identified the latest design trends as new propulsion configurations, fuel choices and autonomous control

Robert Allan is at the forefront of new tugboat naval architecture with variants of its escort and harbour tug designs incorporating the latest in marine innovations. The Vancouver, Canada-based marine engineering group has designed some of the more enterprising and innovative tugs to be built this year.

In an exclusive interview, Robert Allan president and chief executive Mike Fitzpatrick described some of the latest trends in design to Tug Technology & Business. He identified the key technology trends by pointing to new configurations of azimuthing thrusters, the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and energy storage systems on tugs, changes in power/displacement ratios and the ongoing development of remote control and autonomous vessels.

Robert Allan’s innovative work has been focused on developing new concepts, such as the Carrousel Rave tug design. This has a low-drag hull, Voith propulsion in an in-line configuration and Novatug’s carrousel towing system that can freely rotate around the tug’s superstructure. Mr Fitzpatrick said this would be ideal for harbour and canal towage where there is limited manoeuvring space.

Two tugs to this design were ordered by Multraship Towage and Salvage and built in Germany. The first of these, Multratug 32, was delivered in June and went on sea trials in September this year. At the time of writing, in early October, it was due to enter service in November. A second, Multratug 33, is due to enter service in February 2018.

This design maximises the manoeuvrability of the tug and its bollard pull without jeopardising its safety, Mr Fitzpatrick said, comparing it with Robert Allan’s RAmparts design tug, which was also designed for harbour and terminal operations where the highest bollard pull is required from small tugs.

He said developments in bollard pull capabilities can only go so far before stability becomes a safety issue. “We needed to look at what was safe so we developed our own internal guidelines for what is too much bollard pull in a small tug.” He explained that 70 tonnes of bollard pull from a 24 m tug would be a good and safe power/size ratio, but not all tug operators want a 70 tonne bollard pull vessel, which is why there are around 30 distinct versions of the RAmparts design.

“We needed to look at what was safe so we developed our own internal guidelines for what is too much bollard pull in a small tug”

Variants in fuel and power components are also becoming more influential in tug design, as demonstrated by the Robert Allan-designed RAstar 40 m LNG-fuelled escort tugs for Østensjø Rederi for operations in Hammerfest in northern Norway. Mr Fitzpatrick expects more LNG-fuelled tugs to be brought into service – at least one is being built in China and another in the United Arab Emirates – but he said there were technical and financial reasons why another energy innovation is more likely to take off.

“It is much more difficult for LNG fuel systems to be designed on smaller vessels,” he said, explaining that these could increase construction costs by US$4M. This may not be a great change for large commercial vessels, but makes a big difference to the price of building a new tug.

“Hybrid is much better for tugs,” he said. “It is less costly in capital and there is not much variation in [machinery] arrangements.” He added that it would cost between US$500,000 to US$1M extra to install energy storage for hybrid propulsion.

“Hybrid is much better for tugs. It is less costly in capital and there is not much variation in arrangements”

There are other benefits for tug operators: “Hybrid systems could mean tugs operate up to 80% of their time on one engine, leading to fuel savings and less engine run-time,” he explained. “It is easier to build an economic case to add batteries with no effect on the size of the tug.”

Robert Allan has also taken the lead in developing autonomous tugs, with its RAmora design concept for a remote control vessel. “We are making slow progress with our design and we are working with a prominent tug owner on RAmora,” said Mr Fitzpatrick. A model has been tested on Transas simulators at the Pacific Maritime Institute.

He expects faster progress will be made on developing autonomous fireboats, of which Robert Allan is a leading designer. “There is enough interest that we expect to build an unmanned fireboat for real service before a remote-controlled tug,” he added.

Mr Fitzpatrick admitted that there had been a slowdown in tug newbuilding orders this year, which reduced the company’s work on designs for shipyards. “We are now working at around 80% capacity compared to a year ago when we were working at 125%,” he said. However, this has enabled Robert Allan to review existing designs and innovate. This is shown in its designs for Carrousel-Rave tugs and work on RAmora.


Mike Fitzpatrick has worked for Robert Allan for 14 years in many roles, reaching vice president of projects in 2007 and chief executive in 2015. He graduated with a bachelor of engineering in naval architecture from the University of New South Wales in Australia in 1995 and then worked as a naval architect at InCat Designs in Sydney, Australia, until he joined Robert Allan in 2003.

Mike is responsible for corporate direction, business development, management of senior project managers, and project priorities, schedules and profitability.

Tug business enjoys strong demand

Source: Marine Propulsion

The need for greater power for handling bigger vessels is driving the tug orderbook forward, says Barry Luthwaite

The tug industry is enjoying a bullish period, with demand for various types providing welcome business for smaller builders. Almost 100 tugs greater than 20 m in length have been ordered in the space of one year. The reasoning behind much of this is a requirement for more power to handle bigger ships.

Many ports throughout the world have ageing tug fleets and are forced to charter in vessels to cover towage. Orders have been placed for 90 t bollard pull tugs with some negotiations underway for 95-tonne units and even a few in excess of 100 tonnes in due course. This is also brought about by the versatility of roles today’s modern designs are expected to fulfil.

Europe has gained strongly for new business centred on big vessel escort and towage in ports and at offshore terminals. Vancouver based Robert Allan continues to derive great success from commissioning of its specialist designs world-wide. In a latest move the designer was responsible for evolving a new hybrid –powered icebreaking escort tug which will be built at Gondan, Spain for the Port of Lulua in Sweden. Robert Allan has built on experience in icebreaker designs for severe ice conditions in Canadian ports to offer the Swedish port a new vessel known as the TundRA 3600-H.

The tug will feature a hybrid propulsion system featuring two diesel main engines, shaft motor/generators plus electrical battery energy storage. A 90-tonne bollard pull is possible running with two engines and up to 55 tonnes with a single engine performance. Operational performance is enhanced by battery infrastructure utilising shore electrical connection for recharging of batteries. Significant fuel, emissions and maintenance cost savings will be achieved.

Gondan is one of the most successful tug builders in Spain. The builder recently delivered a trio of powerful 108-tonne bollard pull escort and towage tugs for Norway’s Ostensjo, which will serve Statoil’s LNG terminal at Hammerfest. These tugs each incorporate a dual fuel arrangement of two 6L34DF engines from Wartsila.

Scandinavia is well equipped with infrastructure to provide LNG refuelling being one of the best in the world for shore based installations. Combined power on each vessel will total 7,344 bhp when running both engines. Mindful of technological advances Wartsila has now launched a new portfolio of HY Tug designs featuring LNG technology. Over 1,000 tugs incorporate Wartsila’s hybrid propulsion technology producing impressive results in cost savings and meeting environment legislation.

While the use LNG fuel makes slow progress on deepsea ships it is now gaining significant ground in the towage industry. The future will see utilisation in greater numbers of diesel mechanical hybrid or diesel electric hybrid propulsion covering 40-90-tonne bollard pull strengths. Shipyards globally can expect the boom in ordering to continue as more ageing tugs with less powerful bollard pulls become redundant in the age of bigger ships.

Damen Shipyards Group continues to make great strides with its portfolio of tug designs many of which are built on a stock basis enabling a short fitting out time of around eight weeks to commissioning. Azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs remain ever popular from the Damen stable.

Albwardy Damen just completed an ASD 2411 design that offers a 70-tonne bollard pull with main power provided by two Caterpillar 3516C engines. Statistically the newbuilding boom is underlined by a global order backlog of 214 tugs. This is dominated by the USA with 43 units although virtually all will be built for domestic owners under Jones Act subsidy.

Many of these will support the shale oil revolution and the handling of bigger containerships and tankers. Turkey goes from strength to strength as the second largest builder with 23 units, but the difference here is that all will probably be sold for export after starting out as builder’s account. Svitzer is the biggest customer and the sole builder is Sanmar, which holds an almost exclusive tug design portfolio with Robert Allan. Environment regulatory compliance in ports will dictate yet more orders in the future highlighting a positive market.

Bisso expands fleet with new tractor tug

Source: Tug, Technology & Business

Bisso Towboat Co has taken delivery of an azimuthing stern drive tug for towage in the Mississippi River in Louisiana, USA. Liz Healy is a tractor tug with 60 tonnes of bollard pull powered by two Caterpillar 3156C engines.

This new addition is the final tug in a series of three identical 4,480 hp vessels built by Main Iron Works of Houma, Louisiana. It completed sea trials on 6 October and entered service, increasing Bisso Towboat’s fleet to 12.

It has two Rolls Royce US205FP Z-drives with pitch stainless steel propellers and stainless steel nozzles. Liz Healy also has two 99 kW Marathon generators powered by two John Deere 4045AFM85 engines.

It is also equipped with a JonRie Series 230 hydraulic bow winch and Simrad navigation and bridge electronics. For safety, Liz Healy has engineroom monitoring and fire and smoke alarm systems approved by the US Coast Guard.

Tankage includes capacity for 30,163 gallons of diesel fuel, 1,826 gallons of lube oil and hydraulic oils and 11,000 gallons of potable water.

Offshore Towing considers fleet refurbishment

Source: Marine Propulsion

Offshore Towing is considering retrofitting its fleet of tugs and supply vessels with new shaft seals and other components after success with one of its oldest units. It operates a fleet of six ocean-going tugs and two supply vessels, providing towage and support services in the Gulf of Mexico and Bay of Campeche, Mexico.

The Louisiana, US-headquartered tug operator has upgraded a 1974-built tug at Conrad Deepwater shipyard, in Morgan City, Louisiana. It extensively refurbished 9000 hp (6700 kW) tug Zion Falgout at the shipyard during Q3 2017. This involved retrofitting TG100 seals from Thordon Bearings to the propeller shafts. These seals were almost 300 mm diameter, making them the largest TG100 series seals that Thordon has ever supplied.

Zion Falgout is a twin-screw workhorse tug with 67 tonnes of bollard pull. It has been using the TG100 seals for several weeks. Offshore Towing operations manager Henry Bailey said that depending on the performance of the TG100 over the coming months, other vessels in the fleet of tugs and supply vessels would be retrofitted with the Thordon arrangement.

“We were introduced to the TG100 seal by United Tugs, which has operated the system for a number of years without problem,” he said. “The TG100 seal has been operating successfully so far and although too early to provide a full appraisal, we are very satisfied and do not anticipate any problems.”

During the retrofit, Thorden removed stuffing and packing boxes that prevented water ingress to the engineroom and replaced them with TG100 seals, which turn with the shaft, causing no damage or wear.

Thordon worked with E J Fields Machine Works and Conrad Deepwater on the retrofit. The forward end of the shaft line was undercut and then clad-welded with stainless steel to prevent corrosion after which the shaft was returned to its original size. This gave the seal a smooth corrosion-free surface on which to operate. E J Fields also fabricated a mounting plate which the yard welded to the stern tube.

The primary seal uses hard wearing, silicon carbide faces and Thordon’s proprietary elastomeric bellows to provide an unlimited shelf life compared to rubber-based bellows, which need periodic replacement.

It also features a unique secondary seal with a return-to-port capability. In the unlikely event that the primary sealing surface is damaged, this emergency function allows the shaft to turn at reduced speed enabling the vessel’s safe return to port for repairs.

Svitzer has named its new ASD tug Svitzer Adira, an 80 tonne bollard pull vessel built by Sanmar at a ceremony in the port of Southampton

Source: Maritime Quote

Svitzer, a leading provider of harbour and terminal towage to the global shipping industry, has named its new ASD tug Svitzer Adira, an 80 tonne bollard pull vessel built by Sanmar at a ceremony in the port of Southampton.

The naming-giving ceremony took place in relaxed surroundings on board the Princess Caroline cruising the Southampton harbour with attendance of Managing Director of Svitzer Europe Kasper Nilaus and Adira’s Godmother Andry Watermann.

“I am very excited to have been chosen as Godmother for the Svitzer Adira. I started my career in shipping and so can appreciate the importance of companies like Svitzer in keeping the world’s shipping fleet safely moving,” said Andry Watermann, Godmother of the vessel.


“A name-giving ceremony is always a special event to us. Especially this time in Southampton, a port Svitzer has served proudly for decades, I am delighted to express our dedication to our customers and to the port, not forgetting our 50 employees working hard every day to provide safe, reliable and efficient towage service to vessels calling the port, “ said Kasper Nilaus.

Svitzer Adira, a RAstar 2800 built by Sanmar in Turkey, will be serving the shipping industry in the port of Southampton as part of Svitzer’s fleet of five modern tugs ranging from 60-80 tbp including a variety of propulsions making it a very flexible fleet.

Adira is a wonderful display of modern towage equipment matching the demands of today’s habour towage environment.

ASD tug takes ship manoeuvring to new levels

Source: Tug Technology & Business

Tug Technology & Business gained exclusive access to the above- and below-deck technology on one of Damen Shipyards Group’s latest azimuth stern drive tugs

Damen Shipyards Group has designed its latest batch of azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs to be crammed full of powerful engines and generators. These drive two Rolls-Royce propulsors to generate 70 tonnes of bollard pull for escort and harbour operations.

These were some of the systems that were highlighted to Tug Technology & Business during an exclusive tour of the latest of these tugs to come off the Damen production line. The tug tour was conducted during a visit to Albwardy Damen’s shipyard in Sharjah Hamriyah Freezone, in the United Arab Emirates.

This ASD 2411 design, ASD 92 tug incorporates the latest hull and skeg designs and the most recent developments in propulsion, wheelhouse and winch design. It is one of a series of tugs built as stock vessels and available to purchase.

Albwardy Damen project manager Sajan Karolkuni explained that the ASD 2411 design tug is 24.4 m long and 11.3 m wide and has been designed for manoeuvring ships in terminals and harbours and for vessel escort work. He said one of the key elements in the design and construction was to generate as much bollard pull as possible without jeopardising the tug’s size or manoeuvrability.

Its power comes from two Caterpillar 3516C engines that have a total power of 4,200 kW at 1,600 rpm. These drive two Rolls-Royce US 255 azimuthing thrusters with fixed pitch propellers of 2,600 mm diameter.

Auxiliary equipment on the ASD tug includes two Caterpillar C4.4 TA main generator sets that each produce 86 kVA, with 230/400 V at a frequency of 50 Hz. Other equipment includes two general service pumps, two fuel oil header pumps, three bilge water pumps, a water separator and a Rickmeier lubricant oil pump.

Mr Karolkuni also pointed out that the fire-fighting (FiFi) pump for the tug’s FiFi 1 system was located centrally in the engineroom. This diesel-driven pump can deliver 2,700 m3/h to two electrically-controlled monitors, which can deliver 1,200 m3/h each and to two waterspray units that each have a 150 m3/h capacity. This system was delivered by Fire Fighting Systems.

While the FiFi 1 system should only be needed in an emergency, another part of the deck equipment is designed for daily tug operations. Mr Karolkuni explained that the DMT-supplied double-drum winch near the bow of the vessel has 68 tonnes capacity and can be used with a tie-bit for harbour operations. There is also an electrically-driven capstan and 100-tonne towing hooks fore and aft.

Around the deck is a set of fenders. At the bow there is a combination of cylinder and block fenders, while there are D-shaped fenders on the side and aft of the tug and cylinder fendering at transom corners.

The whole of the tug is controlled by an automation system supplied by Praxis, which also provided a digital display and controls on the switchboard and outside the master’s cabin. The rest of the switchboard was supplied by Alewijnse Marine.

Automation data can also be displayed on an integrated bridge in the wheelhouse. This has 360 degrees of view for the master with a swivel chair that provides access to tug controls and workstations.

Furuno Electric supplied most of the bridge equipment in ASD 92. The Japanese company supplied radar, echosounder, speed log, automatic identification system and a differential satellite-based positioning unit.

“The displays can be configured for different information requirements, such as conning, tug alarms, fuel consumption, electric generators and diagnostics,” Mr Karolkuni said. It can also display information about the tug’s pumps, ventilation, lighting and fuel levels.

“There are two of these for redundancy and overhead dials that include compass and propulsion information,” he explained. Communications equipment on the tug includes two Sailor Compact 6222 VHF radios from Cobham Satcom and two Tron TR-20 handheld VHF radios from Jotron. This company also supplied the emergency radio beacon and search and rescue transponder. Propulsion controls are supplied by Rolls-Royce, while Schneider Electric provided the winch controls.

This ASD 2411 is a similar design to two tugs that are to be built by Wilson Sons Estaleiros yard in Brazil for Saam Smit Towage. These are scheduled to be delivered in the middle of 2018.

It is also similar to tug Columbia, which was delivered to Italian owner Rimorchiatori Riuniti in May this year for harbour operations in the Mediterranean region. This also had 70 tonnes of bollard pull.


Damen’s ASD 92

Designer/Builder:        Damen

Design:                        ASD 2411

Bollard pull:                70 tonnes

Total power:                4,200 kW

Length:                        24.4 m

Beam:                          11.3 m

Engines:                      2xCat 3516C

Thursters:                    2xRolls-Royce US 255

Winch:                         DMT, 68 tonnes

Automation:                Praxis

Switchboard:               Alewijnse Marine


On the bridge:

Search light (FiFi 1):   2x Pesch, 450 W, Xenon

Radar system              Furuno FAR-2117

Propulsion controls     Rolls-Royce

Winch controls            Schneider Electric

Autopilot                     Robertson AP-70

DGPS              Furuno GP-170D

Echosounder               Furuno FE-800

VHF                            2x Sailor Compact 6222

VHF (hand-held)        2x Jotron TRON TR-20

Compass                      2x Magnetic, Kotter type

Speed log                    Furuno DS-80

Navtex                        Furuno NX-700

AIS                             Furuno FA-150

EPIRB                        Jotron Tron-60S

SART              Jotron Tronsart20

Anemometer:              Observator Windsonic OMC 115

Damen Shipyards Group has designed its latest batch of azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs to be crammed full of powerful engines and generators.

ASD tug takes ship manoeuvring to new levels

Growth in project size and scale places new demands on long-distance towage specialists

Source: Tug, Technology, and Business

The age of the worldwide fleet of long-distance towing and salvage vessels, and the growing complexity, scale and value of projects, means that investment in new units may be necessary

According to data provided by Clarksons Research, as of 1 June 2017, the ocean-going tug fleet consisted of 234 vessels. The larger portion of the fleet is controlled by state players, as typified by China Rescue and Salvage (which owns 49 ocean-going tugs), the agency responsible for reaction to casualties and incidents along the length of the Chinese coast.

Commercial towing and salvage players tend to maintain smaller fleets, across a more diverse range of assets, including ocean-going tugs, but also conventional offshore support vessels, cranes and barges for wreck removal or lightering activities. They also often charter in additional tonnage, where necessary, including units from the wider offshore construction sectors. Governmental maritime safety operators, notably in Europe, sometimes also contract out their coastal safety standby operations to third party operators.

Although these government operations are a key part of the safety of the maritime industry, plenty of incidents occur outside territorial waters, or need specific technical skills or operational scale. Here, the commercial salvage operators can be a crucial part of the rapid response to a casualty, which is often needed to give the best chance of avoiding pollution or a total loss.

According to the International Salvage Union, the number of ‘dry’ salvages (salvage operations of vessels in distress, as opposed to wreck removal, also known as ‘wet’ salvage work) rose in 2016. A total of 306 such salvage operations were recorded, which represents a sizeable increase of 44% year-on-year to the largest figure since at least 1999.

Clarksons Research says it could be argued that is something of an upward trend developing in dry salvage activity over the last half decade, given that 2014 was also a relatively active year. To some extent, this might well be expected: the fleet has grown substantially over the last decade. It remains to be seen if the next few years confirm this suggestion of a trend, or if the uptick in 2016 was merely an outlier.

2016 was also a historically active year for wreck removals, with 131 projects recorded, which is the highest figure for a long time bar the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

However, average revenue from salvage operations fell to US$1.3Mn, down by 79% on 2015. Clearly, the higher volume of work is a positive for the salvage industry, but the average levels of revenue are down after being buoyed by a couple of very large removal projects (principally the Costa Concordia and Rena salvage cases).

The commercial salvage industry is relatively diverse, with a number of smaller, regional outfits, but there are also some players which have relatively larger reach. In terms of open Lloyd’s Open Form cases as of mid-2017, the most commonly employed companies are Tsavliris, Smit Salvage, Five Oceans Salvage, Svitzer and T&T Salvage.

Clarksons Research notes that the average age of the ocean-going tug fleet is quite (27.1 years) and is an issue that might need tackling. Of course, there is plentiful supply of large anchor-handling tug/supply (AHTS) vessels in the market which could potentially be chartered into the salvage market if needed, or even acquired. On the other hand, said Clarkson Research, some requirement may exist for specialised vessels equipped to handle the new generation of the largest vessels. There have also been conspicuous examples of investment in anchor-handling and salvage tugs, not least by companies such as ALP Maritime. The last 12-18 months have also seen a number of particularly impressive and record-breaking long-distance towage operations by established vessel owners such as Singapore-based POSH.

After the successful towage and positioning of the INPEX Ichthys central processing facilities in Q2 FY17, the POSH Terasea joint undertook the towage and positioning of the Ichthys floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit and the Shell Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platform, along with work on the Egina FPSO unit, which was scheduled for Q4 FY17.

POSH evidently expects that the liquefied natural gas market will provide operators like it with more work in the future, and says it is witnessing “a changing energy landscape” with gas as the fuel of choice to power global economies in the future. As it noted recently, massive offshore gas fields have been found offshore Canada, Australia, Mozambique and Israel, projects that will make use of FLNG solutions that could generate more long distance towage work in due course.

It cites the example of Petronas’ Satu FLNG project, which offloaded its first cargo of LNG in April 2017. POSH Terasea was responsible for towing the Satu FLNG unit to the Kanowit Field offshore Bintulu, using two ocean-going tugs of in excess of 400 tonnes bollard pull to position the massive vessel at offshore location. With a length of 365 m and breadth of 60 m, with a storage capacity of 177,000 m3 and a production capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per annum of LNG, the project was a particularly important one for POSH and its joint venture. Shell’s Prelude unit is also now in place offshore northeast Australia, having been towed from Geoje Shipyard in South Korea by three ocean-going tugs operated by POSH. Prior to project, Shell and POSH used simulators operated by HR Wallingford to plan and practice the complex towage operation.

As highlighted above, among those to have invested heavily in newbuild anchor-handling and salvage units capable of long distance towing is ALP Maritime, whose 305 tonne bollard pull newbuilds have already been put to good use on a number of projects.

One of these high spec units, ALP Defender, recently completed the tow of the Randgrid floating storage unit (FSO) from Singapore to Stavanger, Norway, having been delivered as recently as 30 June 2017. Days after being delivered, ALP Defender departed for South Korea to be outfitted and spool towing wires on board. There was some time pressure, as the vessel had been chartered to Teekay to tow the Randgrid FSO on its mobilization voyage from Singapore to the Gina Krog oil field in the North Sea as soon as the new ship was ready. The 12,500 nautical mile tow commenced in July 2017, departing from Singapore with a route around Cape of Good Hope. Bollard pull and speed calculations made for the project showed that the voyage would take 58 days. On 26 August the convoy entered the English Channel for a rendezvous with steering tug Multratug 3, which connected to the stern of the FSO to guide it. The convoy arrived in Stavanger on 30 August, three days ahead of schedule, having maintained an average towing speed of in excess of 10 knots.

The company notes that, in a market where the objects that are being towed are getting larger and larger and the potential environmental and financial exposure associated with them is growing, the need for more powerful, more sophisticated long-distance towage units is increasing, hence its investment in the 305 tonne bollard pull, dynamic positioning class 2 (DP2) towing vessels. In keeping with the growing demands on long-distance towage and salvage operators, the DP2, ice-class 1B vessels have a high level of redundancy, significant anchor and chain handling capacity – thus eliminating the need for additional vessels during mooring operations – excellent fuel economy and particularly large bunkering capacity, reducing and in some cases eliminating fuel stops during long-distance projects.

As an example of just such a long distance tow that did not require bunkering stops it cites the example of Bumi Armada’s Kraken FPSO project, a milestone project for ALP Maritime that saw the company contracted to project manage, tow and install the Kraken FPSO, towing the massive unit from Singapore to the Kraken field in the North Sea over a distance of approximately 8,800 nautical miles.

More powerful tugs being built for Pacific island towage

Source: Tug, Technology and Business

Damen Shipyards is preparing to deliver the first of four tugs ordered by Young Brothers for inter-island cargo transit in Hawaii. The shipyard has ordered tug packages from the Netherlands-based Hoogendoorn, as the first tug is scheduled for delivery to the owner in Q1 2018.

Young Brothers, affiliate of Foss Maritime, ordered four 37 m Damen 3711 Stan Tugs for delivery next year. Damen is scheduled to deliver the first of these 6,000 hp (4,475 kW) and 11 m wide tugs between January and March 2018. The other three tugs are due to be delivered in sequence and in three-month intervals. The fourth tug could be delivered either in Q4 2018 or early in 2019.

These tugs will serve Young Brothers’ fleet of seven barges that have a combined capacity of more than 60,000 tonnes. They will be more powerful than Young Brothers’ existing fleet of six tugs, which have horsepower ranges of 3,300 to 4,100 hp (2,460 to 3,050 kW).

Young Brothers serves several ports in Hawaii with most routes serviced at least twice a week by overnight sailings. It serves the following ports: Nāwiliwili on Kauaʻi island, Kahului on Maui, Kaunakakai on Molokaʻi, Kaumalapau on Lānaʻi, Honolulu on Oʻahu, plus Hilo and Kawaihae on the island of Hawai’i.


Young Brothers existing tug fleet:

Hokulani – 4,100 hp towing tug

Hoku Loa – 3,900 hp towing tug

Hoku Kea – 3,900 hp towing tug

Moana Holo – 3,000 hp towing tug

Manuokekai – 3,900 hp towing tug

Mikiala – 3,300 hp harbour assist and towing tug