New tractor tug for South Puerto Rico Towing: Hector P

The newest tug to appear on the scene in Puerto Rico is a 4,300-hp, tractor-style vessel designed to escort and assist LNG tankers arriving at the port of Guayanilla on the island’s south coast.

The 99-foot Hector P. was delivered from Orange Shipyard in Orange, Texas, in May and was expected to be ready for work in Puerto Rico by early June.

“This new tug is designed and equipped primarily for work at the LNG facility here, but it will also be involved in harbor work here in Guayanilla and elsewhere on the south coast,” said Hector Padilla, vice president of the family-owned South Puerto Rico Towing. His company shares responsibility for LNG services with American Tugs Inc. of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, and with Svitzer A/S of Copenhagen.

The company’s new tug is powered by a pair of rebuilt EMD 12-645 E7 diesels with Schottel SPR 1212 z-drives. The engine and propulsion package is designed to generate a minimum of 55 tons of bollard pull. Hector P. is a Robert Allan design, based on the Ramparts 3000 class of tug design offered by the Vancouver-based naval architecture firm.

The tug is unusual for a Robert Allan design in its use of EMD main engines, which are heavier and larger than the usual Cats or Detroit Diesels employed for that design, according to Bristol Harbor Marine Design, which served as owners’ agent for the tug construction project.

“That was the biggest modification from the original Robert Allan design,” said Daniela Hanson, a naval architect with the Bristol Harbor Group. “I think the owners wanted to stick with EMDs because they are so accustomed to dealing with those engines from a service and maintenance perspective in their own shipyard,” she added.

Hector P. is designed primarily for LNG work on the south coast of Puerto Rico. [Brian Gauvin photos]

Hector P. is also equipped with a hydraulic bow hawser winch and a stern towing winch, both provided by JonRie InterTech of New Jersey. The bow hawser winch comes with wheelhouse foot control facilitating hands-free operation by the tug operator, while the aft-mounted towing winch features an independent drive-level wind system. Because the tug will be involved with only about one LNG tanker per month, it is equipped to handle a variety of other typical tugboat assignments, including barge handling in local waters.

Also unusual for an LNG assist vessel, Hector P. is not a FiFi-1 class tug, as it has only about 5,000-gpm firefighting capability with a single fire pump and monitor. The tug also does not have the self-drenching deluge system that is becoming common on LNG-related tugs operating in U.S. ports.

LNG tankers arrive at the EcoEléctrica import facility at Penuelas, Guayanilla Bay, located about midway along the island’s south coast. The gas is used to fuel a power-generation plant that sells electricity to the local power authority and uses co-generated steam to power a desalination facility at the same site. The facility, which began receiving ships in 2000, includes a 1,800-foot pier for unloading tankers. Guayanilla Bay is also the site of an oil refinery and coal terminal, both of which receive fuel by ship and barge.

For several years, LNG tankers at Guayanilla have been handled by the z-drive tractor tugs Winslow Kelsey, 4,000 hp, chartered by South Puerto Rico Towing, and by Marilin R., 3,600 hp, belonging to American Tugs Inc. Hector P. is slated to take the place of Winslow Kelsey when that vessel comes off charter at the end of this year, according to company officials. The only other tractor-style tug based in Puerto Rico as of this year is the 4,400-hp Don Alfredo, built in 2004 and operated by Harbor Bunkering of San Juan.

South Puerto Rico Towing, with its fleet of five tugboats, handles ship-assist work in the ports of Guayanilla, Poncé, Guánica and Mayaguez, according to Padilla.

The company is well positioned to become the primary ship-assist provider at the developing port of Poncé, located about 10 miles from Guayanilla. This port, already the second busiest port on the island, is slated to be developed into an international shipping hub. Although most of the development is still in the planning stages, the port is already a destination for a growing roster of freighters and cruise vessels. A recently completed dredging project deepened the approach channels into Poncé to 50 feet, which is among the deepest in the Caribbean, according to the local port authority.

By Professional Mariner Staff