Harvey Gulf builds them bigger to meet oil field towing needs

Vincent Liner (lower-right) is senior captain of Harvey Gulf’s newest and largest offshore tug, Harvey War Horse II (above). The 150-foot tug is powered by a pair of 20-cylinder EMD 710 diesels with a designed bollard pull of 175 tons.

The mood is very positive at the new home of Harvey Gulf International Marine Inc. in Harvey, La. In new and upscale offices, Shane Guidry leads a company with a modernized fleet of high-horsepower tugs. “Most of our business these days is in moving oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “But increasingly we are on longer voyages towing semisubmersible rigs, tension-leg platforms and other large platforms to Central and South America,” Guidry said.
The latest addition to the fleet is the Harvey War Horse II, delivered by Eastern Shipbuilding, Panama City, Fla. to Harvey Gulf in March 2008. It is their second tug named War Horse, following the original vessel that joined the fleet in 2003. John W. Gilbert Associates of Hingham, Mass., did naval architecture and engineering plans on the new vessel.

The War Horse II was completed at the end of February and went to the Port of Panama City for final outfitting. After that, she was expected to be dispatched to pick up the drilling rig Ocean Yorktown from a shipyard in Brownsville, Texas. From Texas she was slated to tow it to its normal drilling grounds in Brazil. The 30-year-old rig measures 260 feet by 200 feet and is topped by a 180-foot derrick.

“It’s at the request of our clients who operate some of these huge drill rigs that we have been building these larger tugs,” said Guidry. He described the two War Horse vessels as the strongest tugs in the Gulf.

The Harvey company, founded in the 1950s by Numa J. Guidry as Harvey Canal Towing, remains a family-owned and family-operated business that has grown over the decades to its present level of offshore tugs and supply vessels, more than 200 employees and that impressive new headquarters in Harvey. The original founder eventually handed over the company to his sons, Dickie and Robert Guidry. They in turn developed both Guidry Brothers Towing, an affiliate of Harvey Gulf, and Harvey Gulf International. Shane Guidry, son of Harvey Gulf’s original developer, Robert Guidry, is one of several brothers and sisters operating the companies today; while Dickie Guidry, continues as president of Guidry Brothers Towing.
Like others in the fleet, the new War Horse is home-ported at Port Fourchon between assignments.

The War Horse II is 150 feet long with a 45-foot beam with a draft of 18.5 feet. Propulsion power is from a pair of EMD 20-710 G7B turbo diesels rated at 5,000-brake-hp each at 900 rpm. The power is transferred to Reintjes WAF 5655 gears with a 5.55:1 ratio. The propellers are Bird Johnson stainless steel, measuring 13.75 feet by 13.75 feet, turning in CNF nozzles. This power train results in a maximum speed of 16 knots and a cruising speed of 11 knots, according to design plans. Towing speed is typically 4 to 7 knots.

The first War Horse was tested to produce certified bollard pull of 168 tons. War Horse II has a designed bollard pull of 170 tons, in part because of different nozzles and different pitch propellers. Both tugs, however, are marketed in the 16,500-horsepower class of tugs, which is a uniform way of categorizing vessels according to their real capabilities. Categorization by bollard pull might be another means of keeping track of various vessels available in the offshore industry, but not all vessels have certified bollard pull results.

By comparison, Harvey Gulf currently operates four offshore tugs in the 13,500-horsepower class, each with slightly different brake-horsepower ratings and bollard-pull certification.
Jake Stahl, a vice president of Harvey Gulf International, stressed that the demand for pulling power is constantly increasing in the offshore marketplace.

“This is one reason why we decided to go ahead and build this second vessel,” he explained. “We were finding out there that companies were wanting to move these offshore rigs with drafts of 80 and 90 feet in an offshore environment and they were looking to have, in some cases, between 200 and 300 tons of total bollard pull certified. So you would need at least two boats, each with about 160 to 170 tons each to be able to safely pull at the 300 tons requested.”

While the War Horse II might take on the Ocean Yorktown assignments by herself, many rig-towing jobs require the services of two or three tugs.

“We do have a tow coming up that has three tugs,” said Shane Guidry. “One tug does the towing and the other two are behind the rig to act as brakes. That is strictly an owner’s call. If he wants three tugs, we can provide (them).”

One upcoming three-tug tow this year will be moving the Transocean Marianas, a 264-by-197-foot semisubmersible drilling rig that can drill in 7,000 feet of water and up to a 25,000 feet well, according to Guidry.

What makes the newer War Horse different from her sister ship is the EMI DP-0 dynamic positioning system. Consistent with her DP rating, the boat has a controllable-pitch Berg Propulsion tunnel-style bow thruster powered by a Cummins KTA-38-M engine rated at 850 hp. The steering system, provided by EMI, features four independent rudders, each with its own independent hydraulic power unit. Workboats that service offshore platforms in the Gulf are increasingly required to be equipped with some level of dynamic positioning system as a means of holding position when operating close to the rig structure. DP-0 is the lowest of four levels of dynamic positioning as designated by the American Bureau of Shipping.

Harvey Gulf currently operates several supply vessels built with DP-2 dynamic positioning systems, and the company has recently retrofitted its tug Harvey Titan with a DP-0 system.
“We are temporarily retrofitting the Harvey Titan to help us develop a DP system for tugs,” said Jake Stahl. “If successful, along with the War Horse II, we still have the War Horse I, Intruder, Thunder and Trojan, all of which we have looked at for retrofitting with DP capability.”

Electrical power for the War Horse II is via a pair of Cummins 6CTA8.3 175-kw gensets plus a 99-kw emergency generator, also by Cummins.

The main towing winch is an Oil States Skagit/Smatco double-drum unit powered by a GM 6-71 engine with torque converter and chain drive. Each drum of the winch holds 3,340 feet of 2.75-inch wire. Line pull is 460,000 lbs. The original War Horse carried a double-drum winch produced by Markey Machinery Co. of Seattle, it being one of the largest such piece of machinery ever produced by Markey at that time. The newer Oil States winch is in the waterfall configuration with wire housed on two drums located one behind the other with rollers underneath feeding out the wires. The waterfall system helps to keep wire height lower and keeps the weight of wire and the wire itself closer to the vessel’s centerline.

The stern has a Smith Berger Marine roller for anchor handling and the vessel also has two Triplex shark jaws and two Gearmatic hydraulic five-ton tuggers. The tow pin assembly is also by Smith Berger Marine.

The pilothouse navigation electronics package, including the EMI dynamic positioning system, features a DP gyrocompass by Simrad, a Dirigo magnetic compass, an S.G. Brown autopilot gyrocompass and an autopilot by Navitron Systems. Other navigation electronics include two Furuno marine radars with ARPA, a Furuno P-150 GPS unit, a Furuno Doppler speed log and a Furuno Navtex receiver. The onboard communication system features a Furuno GMDSS console, two Furuno VHF radios, a SEA SSB unit and a Furuno loud hailer.

The layout of the Harvey War Horse II is straightforward for a tug with this much power, but surprisingly roomy. The hull is packed full of diesel engines and tanks. Aft of the forward ballast tanks is the bow thruster control room with a Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine working through a right-angle drive. Plenty of room is allocated for the 20-cylinder engines amidships and the gears with a pair of Cummins gensets between the main engines.

Aft of the main engines are the hydraulic control systems for the shark jaws and line tuggers, plus the four hydraulic pumps powering the rudders.

Tankage for diesel fuel, located around the perimeter of the hull, includes capacity for 246,000 gallons.

On the main deck forward is crew country, with the galley and a seven-person mess, two two-person staterooms, a lounge, a laundry area and two crew heads. Amidships on the centerline is the double-drum winch, the upper engine room and the air-cooled emergency generator.
The open portion of the main deck occupies the rest of the space with the towing line on the centerline passing through the shark jaws, tow pins and out over the stern roller.

Up on the forecastle deck is more crew space forward with the captain having his own stateroom, three more crew staterooms and a large lounge. The exhaust funnel casings are also in this area, as is the rescue boat and its crane. In all, the layout includes seven cabins for up to 14 crewmembers.

Captains of the War Horse II are Vincent Liner and Pat Hughes. Chief engineers are Juan Velasquez and Kyle Bonde.

As noted, the Harvey Gulf fleet of anchor handling/towing vessels and supply boats is among the youngest in the Gulf. Among the anchor handlers, the Harvey Intruder and the Harvey Thunder joined the fleet in 2001 and 2003 respectively. The two War Horse anchor handlers/towing vessels were delivered in 2004 and 2008 respectively.

Harvey Gulf has four very large supply boats in the fleet and a fifth delivered in June 2008. Again these vessels are all four years old or less. The Harvey Explorer and Harvey Provider are 240-foot vessels that were delivered in 2003. The 280-foot Harvey Supplier and Harvey Spirit were both delivered last year. In 2010, the Harvey Carrier will join the Harvey fleet, a 295-foot supply vessel that has 8,000 hp and can carry 17,000 barrels of drilling mud. It will be among the largest supply boats in the Gulf.

The future looks very promising for Harvey Gulf. In addition to the revenue that will be supplied from some of the most capable tugs and supply boats in the market, in February Saipem America renewed their charter contract on the multipurpose vessel Harvey Discovery for another five years. This multipurpose vessel was originally on a three-year charter doing subsea work.

By Professional Mariner Staff