Shipyard Selected for Fleet of Pioneering and Environmentally Friendly Tugs

May 20, 2021

Robert Allan Ltd. is pleased to report the recent announcement by Haisea Marine Services that following an exhaustive process involving many of the world’s finest tug construction yards, Turkey’s Sanmar Shipyards has been selected to build a fleet of battery electric harbour tugs and dual fuel (LNG and diesel) escort tugs for service at the LNG Canada export facility on Canada’s west coast in Kitimat, BC.

Already well under construction, the new facility represents the largest private sector investment in Canadian history and is due to open mid-decade. And HaiSea Marine, a joint venture between the Haisla First Nation and Seaspan ULC will provide ship-assist and escort towing services to LNG carriers that will call at the export facility. Kitimat is part of the traditional unceded territory of the Haisla First Nation.

The relationship between Vancouver, BC based companies Robert Allan Ltd. and Seaspan dates back over 60 years, including collaboration with predecessor companies Vancouver Tugboat and Island Tug & Barge that in 1969 merged to become Seaspan. Entrepreneur Dennis Washington acquired Charles H. Cates and Sons in 1992, a force in the Vancouver harbour ship-assist industry, followed a few years later by Seaspan itself. Throughout this time, the various companies that have led to the Seaspan we know today have collaborated with now world-renowned vessel designers Robert Allan Ltd. on many pioneering tug designs, among them Cates’ first steel hulled, twin-screw tugs (1974), and shortly thereafter some of the first azimuthing Z-drive tugs in the world for both Cates (1983) and Seaspan (1993). It was thus without any hesitation that Seaspan / HaiSea approached Robert Allan Ltd. for this truly generational Canadian project.

The new tugs for HaiSea Marine are set to continue this pioneering tradition, setting a high mark for environmentally friendly operation, not just in Canada, but the world. With service dedicated to the facility, it has been possible to design truly customized, state-of-the-art tugs for maximum performance and minimal environmental impact.

The RAstar 4000-DF escort tugs are an evolution of widely acclaimed tugs of the same class in operation with Østensjø Rederi in Norway. These will measure 40 metres in length, and with approximately 100 tonnes of bollard pull, will not only be the west coast of Canada’s most powerful escort tugs in terms of sheer power but also be among the most high-performance escort tugs in the entire world with the ability to generate indirect forces in escort of approximately 200 tonnes.

Even more significant for these vessels’ claim to fame will be the emissions reductions that they will attain compared to conventional diesel tugs. Even though these tugs will feature an exhaust after-treatment system in full compliance with IMO Tier III emissions standards, the most stringent such standard in existence for the international marine industry, they will actually perform the entirety of the regular escort missions using LNG as their fuel. When operating in this mode on their 159 nautical mile escort route in each direction from Kitimat to the pilot station near Triple Island, BC, emissions, in particular of CO2 will be dramatically cut compared to even Tier III standards.

Operating in tandem in Kitimat, the harbour tugs will be even more impressive in this regard. At 28 metres length, approximately 70 tonnes bollard pull, and most notably with up to 6,102 kWh of battery capacity each, these first-of-class ElectRA 2800 battery electric harbour tugs are designed to perform their regular ship-berthing and unberthing missions on battery power. With an ample supply of clean hydroelectric power available in Kitimat, these tugs will be able to recharge from dedicated shore charging facilities at their berths between jobs, effectively resulting in zero emissions when running on batteries.

With their stylish and distinct look hinting at their special calling, as a fleet, these escort and harbour tugs are expected to reduce emissions of CO2 by approximately 10,000 tonnes per annum compared to diesel powered alternatives, with major reductions of NOX, SOX, CO, and particulate matter as well. Both types of tugs are also designed to meet environmental notations available from the selected Classification Society (ABS – ENVIRO) including zero-discharge of any wastes. The harbour tugs, with their battery propulsion are also expected to be exceptionally quiet, both onboard and in terms of underwater radiated noise.

In addition to these environmental benchmarks, the escort tugs will be capable of pollution response, with significant recovered oil tankage aboard, complementing other dedicated assets in the region. They will also be capable of emergency towage of vessels that may find themselves in distress with an aft towing system for the purpose. And all project tugs will also be equipped with off-ship fire-fighting capability of 2,400 m3/hr in accordance with ABS’ FFV 1 notation.

Equipment aboard will all be of the highest standards of quality, and the electric hawser winches on the escort tugs in particular will be exceptional performers, maximizing the tugs’ already formidable performance in escort in all conditions expected to be encountered in operation.

All project tugs will be outfitted to a very high standard of accommodation, with spacious dedicated cabins and ensuites for all regular crew, all with natural light, and well in excess of regulatory standards. Particular attention has been paid to minimize noise and vibration aboard the vessels, with a crew comfort (habitability) class notation to be assigned by ABS as well.

Robert Allan Ltd. will be closely following the progress of this generational fleet during construction, so we encourage readers to stay tuned to our social media accounts for regular updates as these inspiring vessels come to life at Sanmar’s world class facilities.

For more information on the newly minted ElectRA series, as well as the already widely acclaimed RAstar series, please also visit the following links.

“Z-Peller Tug” Charles H. Cates II in Vancouver Harbour – Designed 1983

RAstar 4000-DF Dual Fuel Escort Tugs

ElectRA 2800 Battery Electric Harbour Tugs