There is no mistaking the blue and gold color and the pristine condition of a Western Towboat tug, no matter the vintage. That holds true for Fearless, built in 1937 and recently retired, as well as Arctic Titan, a 120-foot ASD tug, recently launched at the company's facility on the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle. Arctic Titan is expected to be finished in the first quarter of 2012.
The 120-foot Arctic Titan was built for Western Towboat's regular Seattle-to-Alaska service. (Brian Gauvin photo)
One of the primary reasons that Western Towboat's tugs are outstanding examples of well-designed and maintained vessels is that the company — including the crews — works on the design and builds them at its own shipyard on the canal.
In 1982, Robert Shrewsbury Sr., who founded the company in 1948, gathered together his sons Bob Jr., now president of the company, and Ric, now vice president, and the employees. They made a list of what each would like to see in a new boat. Bob Jr. outlined the desired features and made drawings. Then the Seattle firm Jensen Maritime Consultants, now a Crowley Maritime company, was tagged to develop the final design from there. Jonathan Parrott, now Jensen's vice president of new design, did the design work under lead naval architect Larry Sund. Sund recommended Mike Knudsen, a talented steel man, for the job of building the boat. The result was the 90-foot, 3,000-hp Western Mariner, built at the newly-formed yard.
Co-owner Ric Shrewsbury. (Brian Gauvin photo)
According to Ric Shrewsbury, the design process hasn't changed much since then. His brother draws the boat, the crew critiques the design and Jensen fits it all together. "We give the numbers to Jensen and they work up the lines for us," he said.
As you might expect, the owners and the crew paid more attention to the ease of operation, maintenance, operating cost and the durability of the vessels. Ric gets excited when he talks about the stainless steel scuppers and cap rail that Western installs.
"We use stainless on any place that rusts," he said, pointing to the underside of the hand rail, a place often neglected by painters who don't want to crouch down and get at the hard or out-of-sight places. Out of sight, that is, until a non-stainless rail rusts and trails unsightly streaks down the outside of the hull. "We want to stop rust before it starts." That attitude extends to the aluminum house.
Arctic Titan will be powered by two 3,000-hp Cat C175 Tier III engines, each turning Schottel z-drives. "We bolt the stacks on so we can take them off and change out the engines," said Ric. "We have a warehouse with swing engines stored, ready to go."
As with six other Titan-class tugs, Arctic Titan will tow container barges from Seattle to Whittier, Alaska, for Alaska Marine Lines, a division of Lynden Transport, Western's main customer.
Seaspan tugs ready to assist
Seaspan Eagle is the second of four 92-foot ASD tugs to join Seaspan Marine's fleet in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Seaspan Raven was delivered in 2010. Seaspan Kestrel and Seaspan Osprey will be delivered this year. Like birds of a feather, the new tugs follow the raptor-naming theme that began in the early '90s with the ASD, Seaspan Hawk and Seaspan Falcon.
The 5,000-hp escort tug Seaspan Eagle is moored in North Vancouver, British Columbia. (Brian Gauvin photo)
The new tugs are RAstar 2800 (28 meter) class z-drive tugs designed by Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver and built by Sanmar Denizcilik of Tuzla, Turkey. Raven and Eagle are identical 5,000-hp tugs equipped for ship assist and escort duties, with a bollard pull of 71 metric tons. The 6,300-hp Kestrel and Osprey will operate as escort tugs, and will have a bollard pull of 80 metric tons.
"The only difference between the two pairs is that the higher horsepower means larger propeller units and there is no aft winch on the Osprey and Kestrel," said John Fowlis, vice president of fleet maintenance for Seaspan. The aft winch was removed to trade off the increased weight of the larger propulsion units. "The reasoning was that the intended role of the larger powered tugs is predominantly escort. They have dual direction tow lights so they can still tow off the bow winch as well."
Raven and Eagle are each powered by a pair of Caterpillar 3516-B engines with Aquamaster (Rolls-Royce) US 205 CP azimuthing z-drives. The engines on Kestrel and Osprey will be Caterpillar 3516-C diesels, developing 3,150 hp with Rolls-Royce US 255 CP azimuthing z-drives. All four tugs are FiFi-1 and have FFS fire pumps driven from the front end of the main engines through a Kumera gearbox. The power takeoff arrangement also drives the main hydraulic pumps that power the Rolls-Royce TW 2000/500 AW 24 U2 H hawser winch on the foredeck of all four tugs and a Rolls-Royce TW 1800/320 H towing winch on the aft deck of Raven and Eagle.
Muscular as they are, the Turkish-built tugs have a great deal of well appointed crew comforts and safety features. "Sanmar did an absolutely fantastic fit and finish on the boats," said Fowlis. "The workmanship is fantastic."
Many of the features have become standard items on newly-built tugs: WiFi in each cabin, flat screen televisions, well-equipped galleys and soft-mounted engines. Seaspan has added a few touches that are not so common: A60 fire insulation, a seven-layer floor system and a large plate under the bearings to reduce the sound level.
Legend, from Crowley Maritime's 750 series ATBs, tied up at Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, Wash. When paired with its barge, the tandem is the largest and safest ATB in North America, according to Crowley. (Brian Gauvin photo)
The ceramic-tiled head and shower with radiant heated floors would not embarrass a fine hotel. Nor would the cool blue lighting in the crew areas and galley. The stair nosing has a strip of LED lights for safety and to help the crew prevent coffee spills on the way to the wheelhouse. A stainless steel rub rail prevents chaffing. Amber deck lights in the bulwarks aid the crew's vision at night.
The boats are designed to work in Vancouver's extensive harbor and the Roberts Bank Superport in Delta, near the Canada-U.S. border.
Crowley ATBs are continent's largest
At the foot of R Avenue in Anacortes, Wash., an impressively large stern stares you in the face. It is the enormous aft end of Crowley Maritime's third 750-class ATB tug Liberty, under construction at Dakota Creek Industries.
The second vessel in the series, Legend, is in the water with construction close to completion. Legacy, the first of the series, delivered from the Dakota Creek yard, had made its way to Pascagoula, Miss., last fall to marry up with the gigantic 330,000 bbl, 750-1 barge, built at VT Halter Marine. The couple was christened in November in New Orleans.
The tugs, designed by Naviform of Vancouver, British Columbia, are 148-feet long with 60-foot beams. Two Wärtsilä C32 HFO-capable diesels, installed in separate engine pods, produce 16,320 hp.
Barges 750-1 to 750-3 are 600 feet long with 106-foot beams. Crowley said the units are the biggest, fastest and safest ATBs in North America.