Securing LNG

Whenever a liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) tanker is mentioned, the words huge, caution and safety seem to hover close by. Recently Moran Towing and McAllister Towing, the East Coast giants in the ship-assist business, conducted a joint firefighting exercise near the Dominion Cove Point LNG terminal, halfway up the west shore of Chesapeake Bay.

z-drive tugs A.J. McAllister and Emily Anne McAllister assist the 933-foot-long LNG tanker Bilbao Knutsen as it arrives at Cove Point on Chesapeake Bay.
   Image Credit: Brian Gauvin

To qualify for a multiyear contract with Dominion Cove Point LNG, Moran and McAllister each built two z-drive tugs, addressing the necessary power and safety concerns of assisting LNG tankers. The tugs, Kaye E. Moran, A.J. McAllister and Emily Anne McAllister, are the pride of each company’s fleet in Hampton Roads, Va. James R. Moran was delivered later in the summer.

Although the two companies built their tugs to different designs, all four are similarly equipped and powered (5,100 hp), and are all classed ABS A1, FiFi-1, with escort notation.

The tankers that call at Cove Point are over 900 feet long. Because of the huge hull surface these ships present to the wind, three tugs are required to assist them. Each tug has two Skum fire monitors that resemble cannons on the bridge deck. Putting out a combined 10,460 gallons per minute, they can direct two plumes of water in a 400- to 500-foot arc. The monitors have extensive horizontal and vertical adjustment. The deluge systems shroud the tugs in mist for close-in firefighting and crew safety. Each tug also carries four sets of protective fire suits and self-contained breathing apparatus, as well as a compressor for refilling the air bottles.

The exercise went off very well, and there was so much water in the air that, had it lasted longer, the microclimate of mid-Chesapeake Bay might have been temporarily altered.

By Professional Mariner Staff