Vigor delivers first ATB tug for Harley Marine


When Harley Marine Services wanted to add a fourth ATB tug to its offshore fleet, it didn’t have to look far for a blueprint or a builder. The Seattle-based operator cast a line to Elliott Bay Design Group and Vigor Fab, two local firms that teamed up to produce the vessel.

The result is the 95-foot Dale R Lindsey, which was scheduled for delivery in June. The 3,000-hp tug is named for the founder of Petro Marine Services in Alaska. It features a raised forecastle to house an Articouple pin system and an elevated pilothouse that allows a 50-foot line of sight.

The tug will serve the coast of southeast Alaska and be paired with the 222-foot Petro Mariner, a 28,500-barrel oil barge operated by Harley. Zidell Marine built the barge in 2015 and it is currently working in tandem with the Harley tug Kestrel.

Dale R Lindsey is the first ATB tug built by Vigor and the first tug of any kind the Seattle shipyard has produced for Harley. But the companies have a relationship in petroleum carriers that made their latest endeavor a natural fit, said Ravi Sekhon, manager of projects, budget and inventory for Harley.

“We’ve worked with them extensively on barges,” Sekhon said. “They’ve been building barges for us since they were U.S. Fab in 2008. We have an established history with Vigor.”

Harley also has a track record with Elliott Bay Design Group. EBDG has provided six barge designs for the operator  — three for towed barges and three for ATB units. More than a dozen barges have been built for Harley to EBDG’s specifications, all for bunkering.

The collaboration on Dale R Lindsey was the first between the two companies when it comes to tugs. The new vessel isn’t the first ATB tug designed by EBDG, but it is the first of that type to reach the build phase based on the company’s blueprints.

Mike Complita, vice president of shipyard services for EBDG, said designing an ATB tug presents unique challenges due to the pin integration of the units.

“The geometry of the two (tug and barge) must be coordinated to allow for the required articulation,” he said. “The structures in each must be engineered for the substantial loads which can occur, simulated by essentially suspending the tug from the pin connection alone.”

Twin 1,500-hp Caterpillar 3512C Tier 3 diesel mains provide propulsion for Dale R Lindsey. Auxiliary power comes from two John Deere 99-kW generators.

Photo courtesy of Vigor

Designers at EBDG accomplish this task by using ANSYS software in conjunction with 3-D modeling of how the tug and barge will interact, Complita said.

On Dale R Lindsey, the load at this critical junction is handled by an Articouple FRM-43M coupler system. It is a slightly smaller version of what Harley deploys on its other ATB tugs: the 116-foot Barry Silverton, Jake Shearer and Emery Zidell, all of which move 83,000-barrel petroleum barges on coastwise routes.

Steve Carlson, vice president of engineering at Harley, said the Articouple systems have proven effective in the field. A key selling point is that the design allows a tug to stay connected to its barge as its draft changes during loading and lightering.

“The flexibility of the system is that as you load or unload the barge, you can remain semi-pinned in and it just flips up or down as the barge rises or falls,” Carlson said.

Incorporating the coupler was the most challenging part of the build at the busy Vigor Fab yard, said Jim Rudick, the company’s manager of manufacturing in Seattle.

“The Articouples are pretty intense as far as critical alignment and everything,” he said. “But the rest is pretty standard for what we do construction-wise. It’s just finding the space to build another boat with the ferries and everything else we’re building, and getting people used to building smaller vessels versus 400-foot vessels.”

One notable difference for Vigor with Dale R Lindsey involved producing components in multiple locations from the start of the project. The aluminum superstructure, tower and navigation bridge were built at Vigor’s Kvichak facility in Ballard, Wash., augmenting steel work at Vigor’s yards in Seattle and Tacoma. The components from Ballard and Tacoma were either trucked or barged for final assembly.

“It allowed us to build in three separate locations simultaneously to maximize our work force and also decrease the construction time,” Rudick said. “We did the pilothouse for the San Francisco fireboat up in Kvichak, just the top house, but this is the first time we did it that way from the design phase out.”

At the heart of Dale R Lindsey are two Caterpillar 3512C Tier 3 diesel engines producing 1,500 hp each at 1,600 rpm. Reintjes reduction gears turn a pair of four-blade, 96-inch stainless steel propellers. Auxiliary power is courtesy of two John Deere 99-kW gensets.

Elliott Bay Design Group used technical software and 3-D modeling when designing the interaction between the tug and barge, boosting efficiency in the water.

Photo courtesy of Vigor

The electronics package in the wheelhouse includes Furuno radar, AIS and autopilot. The electronic chart display is from Nauticomp, with communications handled by Iridium Pilot and a Thrane SAILOR system.

Out on the aft deck is a Markey TYS-32 towing winch that was initially installed on Harley’s Emery Zidell. The tow pin/hook/roller assembly is from Smith Berger. Schuyler Companies supplied the fendering.

The accommodations space features six staterooms for 11 crewmembers. There are flat-screen TVs in the galley and satellite radio, amenities becoming common on newbuilds as operators focus on retaining crew.

“We’re sending them out there for long periods of time when they’re away from home,” Carlson said. “It’s never going to be home, but you need to make it as comfortable as you can, as user-friendly as you can. I think that’s just kind of an expectation, particularly for younger crewmembers.”

Mark Stiefel, Harley’s vice president, contract administration, said Dale R Lindsey reflects the company’s approach to all of its newbuilds: Get input from the actual operators before cutting any steel. 

“Doing it right means meeting with our port captains, the folks who actually operate the vessels, to get their opinion on what is state-of-the-art in terms of vessel amenities, wheelhouse layout, crew quarters layout and galley layout,” he said.

As for Harley acquiring more ATBs in the future, Carlson said it all depends on the market.

“I think ATBs are an efficient way to move your barge around rather than towing,” he said. “It’s safer and more efficient. Running from the Gulf up the East Coast or running from Washington down to California or California to Hawaii, they’re an excellent vehicle to do that.”

By Professional Mariner Staff