Three New Tractors Ready for Canadian LNG

The first LNG regasification plant in Canada is expected to slowly begin operations this summer at Saint John, New Brunswick, while three new ASD tractor tugs have been waiting patiently for the fun to begin.

Two of three new Atlantic Reyser tugs standing by for assignment in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Irving Oil partnered with Repsol YPF, S.A. of Spain, one of the world’s largest gas concerns, to build this large LNG terminal, situated about 65 miles from the U.S. border. Canaport LNG will connect to the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline feeding Sable Island gas to both Canadian and American markets. Initial send-out capacity will be approximately a billion cubic feet of natural gas daily.

LNG tankers serving the terminal will require tug escorts through the Bay of Fundy, berthing assistance, and standby and emergency services throughout the unloading operation. The exposed berth and extreme Fundy tides pose some special challenges for tug operations.

Irving/Repsol turned to two experienced tug operators for assistance. Irving’s own Atlantic Towing has local knowledge and experience escorting and docking big ships in several Canadian ports. Grupo Reyser is a tug and pollution control operator serving eight ports in Spain with direct experience with LNG tankers. Reyser is part of Bergé Group, a Spanish logistics, finance and transportation conglomerate. Together they formed Atlantic Reyser to provide three tugs for Canaport LNG.

Irving Shipbuilding built the tugs at its East Isle Shipyard in Georgetown, Prince Edward Island. The last of the three was the 29th tug East Isle has turned out in 17 years, all based on the same original ASD design, but evolving through operating experience with more power and added escort features.

The new Atlantic Reyser tugs, Atlantic Beaver, Spitfire III and Atlantic Bear, measure 101 feet LOA with 36-foot beam and 18-foot depth of hull. They are fitted with an escort skeg. Experience with the skeg has shown large increases of thrust in the indirect towing mode and better course keeping when backing. Raised bulwarks forward help to keep the working deck dry.

The tugs are expected to meet large LNG tankers at cruising speeds well out into the bay of Fundy, then provide escort in the indirect mode from the ship’s stern, and then continue with specific ship docking assignments. That kind of work requires lots of tugboat power. Twin Cat 3516B-HD series II engines of 1999 kW at 6000 rpm are coupled to Rolls-Royce Aquamaster US2552 stern drives, with 9-foot diameter fixed pitch propellers. This arrangement gives a 79-ton designed bollard pull. Two Caterpillar gensets provide auxiliary power.

The requirement for these tugs to remain alongside high-sided vessels in swells resulted in a heavy fendering design. Triple cylindrical profile fenders are fitted forward and D-shaped fenders aft, supplemented by industrial tires on the sides.

To work over the bow the tugs are fitted with a massive Ridderinkhof frequency-controlled high tension render recovery winch. With 156 tons of line pull, the winches have 244 tons brake. To make room for these big machines the deckhouse is about three feet further aft than on the standard design. The deck staple has a stainless steel liner and the bulwark rails forward are capped with a stainless steel channel.

As dedicated terminal tugs, these boats are not expected to engage in much line towing, so no towing winch has been fitted, but there is an 82-ton quick release tow hook for emergency use.

Another important aspect of the LNG service work is firefighting capability. These tugs again depart from the standard design, by mounting two fire fighting monitors on the deckhouse forward of the wheelhouse, positioned in full view of the helm. The FFS monitors can each pump at 1,200 m3/hr (317,000 US gph), powered by a 2,700 m3/hr (713,000 US gph) pump working off the port engine. This arrangement is supplemented by a deck manifold for hand lines and a 300 m3/hr (79,000 US gph) water curtain.

Accommodation is provided for a crew of five, with all berths above the waterline, in compliance with Canadian regulations.

The tugs were kept busy over winter and spring months providing ship-assist services for Atlantic Towing in Halifax and Saint John.

Mechanical completion of the new LNG facility is slated for midway through third quarter of this year, with the first commissioning shipment of LNG expected during the summer. •

By Professional Mariner Staff