Friday, September 7, 2012

Ocean & Coastal Towing

By Jim Shaw

The big tow off the West Coast this year has been the movement of oil drilling equipment to Alaska for Shell (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, August 2012) but a number of other towing operations have taken place, and new equipment is being steadily added to several company fleets, among them Crowley, which has taken delivery of its first new Ocean class towing tug from Louisiana’s Bollinger Shipyards. Designed for heavy deepwater towing operations, these 10,880-HP vessels are among the largest and most technologically advanced of their type in the world. At the same time, Seattle-based Harley Marine has added a new barge to its fleet, with the tank unit Dr. Bonnie Ramsey recently completed by Portland, Oregon-based Zidell. The company also has a new tug under construction at Diversified Marine, another Portland-based yard.

In Seattle, the Marine Resources Group, now known as Foss Marine Holdings (FMH), has several projects underway, including three new towing tugs to be built at Rainier, Oregon for Foss Maritime. Still at the letter of intent (LOI) stage is a massive contract to have 20 coal barges built for the controversial Morrow Pacific project on the Columbia River, which would see Rocky Mountain coal transshipped from rail cars at Morrow, Oregon and barged to St. Helens, Oregon for further transshipment to oceangoing carriers (see Pacific Maritime Magazine, June 2012). Under the LOIs issued to date Portland’s Gunderson would build fifteen of the barges while Vigor Industrial would complete five.

Foss Name Change 
Earlier this year Seattle’s Marine Resources Group (MRG), part of Saltchuk Resources, took advantage of the well known “Foss” name and changed its own name to Foss Marine Holdings (FMH). With 130 tugs and barges the rechristened company has oversight over five independent companies that make up the nation’s largest coastal tug and barge fleet. These include Foss Maritime Company, based in Seattle; AMNAV Maritime Services, based in San Francisco; Hawaiian Tug & Barge, based in Honolulu; Young Brothers, based in Honolulu; and, Cook Inlet Tug & Barge, based in Anchorage, all of which retain their current names. Of the five companies, Foss Maritime has been the most active in towing operations, although the Honolulu-based subsidiaries maintain a regular barge towing service among the Hawaiian Islands.

In regards to the Shell Oil lift to Alaska, Foss provided its 8,200HP Corbin Foss to tow the barge Arctic Challenger for Superior Energy Services of Houston, although this tow was delayed, while sister tug Lauren Foss and barge Tug (formerly known as Z-Big 1) were employed under a separate contract with Shell.

Prior to the sealift both boats received extensive modifications for arctic employment, including ice guards for their keel coolers and replacement propellers.

River Towing Project
In one of the longer lasting river towing operations of the decade Foss Maritime completed the last of 17 tows from Vancouver, Washington to inland ports on the Columbia River this past winter, delivering production modules for an oil sands development project in Alberta, Canada. During the operation, on behalf of customer Mammoet Canada Western Ltd, Foss employees put in more than 28,000 man-hours without a single lost-time injury.

Foss started work on the project in September 2010, loading Korean-built modules, some as heavy as 150 tons and measuring up to 118 feet long, 19 feet high and 26 feet wide, at the Port of Vancouver USA onto barges Sitka and 286-3. In total, 147 modules were moved in 17 voyages by the tugs P.J. Brix and Betsy L, nine to Pasco, Washington and eight to Lewiston, Idaho. The modules were then carried overland by specialized equipment furnished by Mammoet to the project site near Fort McMurray, Alberta where an oil field is being development by ExxonMobil Canada and Imperial Oil.

Although the barging portion of the project was to have been completed by July of last year, permitting and routing issues for the over-the-road portion of the journey, plus a three-month shutdown of river traffic for lock gate replacement at several dams, delayed some river shipments.

Long Distance Tows
One of the longer international tows completed by Foss over the past year has been the 20,000 mile odyssey of the oceangoing tug Drew Foss, which arrived back in its home port of Seattle this past summer after a six-month adventure. Chosen for the long tow because of its high fuel capacity, the 1977-built tug was chartered by Heko Services, Inc, a Seattle-based construction and logistics company, to tow barge KRS 330 to the Marshall Islands, then on to Singapore, Indonesia and Diego Garcia Island in support of projects being undertaken by Colorado-based San Juan Construction.

The trip began with the tug and barge departing the West Coast last winter for Honolulu before moving on to Kwajalein Island where equipment and material were off-loaded for dock repair projects. The tow then proceeded on to Singapore where cargo was picked up for a shoreline remediation project at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. That 2,200-mile tow was broken by a stop in Bintin, Indonesia for gravel. Once discharge was completed at Diego Garcia the tug was able to begin its nearly 9,300 mile homeward trip to Seattle.

Another long distance tow during the year was completed by the 149-foot by 40-foot Lauren Foss prior to its employment with Shell when the 8,200-HP tug towed a 400-foot by 105-foot barge loaded with two container cranes from South Korea to the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point, North Carolina. The two cranes, each weighting more than 2,000 metric tons, were the largest single pieces of equipment moved by Foss since its sealifts to 

Russia’s Sakhalin Island ended six years ago.

Ship Tows
One of the more publicized ship tows of the past year was movement of the retired battleship Iowa from lay-up in Suisun Bay to Los Angeles where the war-built vessel now serves as a floating museum. Her departure from San Francisco Bay was timed to coincide with the 75th birthday celebrations for the Golden Gate Bridge, adding to the publicity of the move. Although Crowley’s tug Warrior did the coastal towing portion of the job a number of other Crowley tugs, as well as units from Foss Maritime, Baydelta and others, helped get the 887-foot vessel out of lay-up and safely secured alongside in Los Angeles.

In the Pacific Northwest another tow was accomplished by the Foss Maritime tug Corbin Foss after the 751-foot cargo vessel STX Kyla radioed that it needed assistance some 800 nautical miles off the Washington coast. Although it took only two-and-a-half days to reach the 43,501-gt ship’s position, it required another six days to get the vessel safely back to port and tied up alongside the Port of Seattle’s Pier 66 where a number of mechanical repairs had to be accomplished.

New Foss Tugs
Foss Maritime’s next generation of tugs will be three new ocean-going boats that will be built at the company’s shipyard at Rainier, Oregon, a facility that will soon be expanded by an additional 10,000 square feet. Seattle’s Glosten Associates is assisting Foss with the design of the new boats and work on the first unit is scheduled to start early next year. The design is a 130-foot hull that will be capable of 100 metric tons of bollard pull and a fuel and provision range for voyages in excess of 3,000 nautical miles. Machinery will include Caterpillar C280-8 main engines that will comply with the highest federal environmental standards and drive through Reintjes reduction gears.

Markey Machinery will supply the direct diesel drive tow winch, which will feature a state of the art braking system and tow wire monitoring system to provide the highest level of tow wire care. In addition to the low-emission Caterpillar mains, the vessels will feature a number of environmental upgrades. These will include the elimination of ballast tanks, so there will be no chance of transporting invasive species, and holding tanks for both black and gray water to permit operations in no-discharge zones.

All hydraulic systems will use biodegradable oil and LED lighting will be used where ever possible in the accommodation spaces. The innovative Schuyler fender system provides complete hull protection to complete the package. The tugs are ABS class and meet SOLAS requirements so they are suited to work across the globe.

Crowley Ocean Class
In the Gulf of Mexico Crowley Maritime has taken delivery of the first of its 150-ton bollard pull Ocean class towing tugs, Ocean Wave, from Bollinger Marine Fabricators at Amelia, Louisiana. Designed by Crowley subsidiary Jensen Maritime Consultants in cooperation with Crowley’s Vessel Management Services and Bollinger’s engineering department, the new boat measures 146 feet (44.4m) by 46 feet (14m) and is powered by twin Caterpillar C-280-12 Tier II engines developing 10,880 BHP. The engines, which give a service speed of 16 knots through controllable-pitch propellers set in nozzles, have the ability to be upgraded to Tier III or IV level to meet future environmental standards.

Although Crowley had originally planned to build all four 1,600-gt tugs with DP-1 technology it has since decided to upgrade the third and fourth units, Ocean Sun and Ocean Sky, to DP-2, which will require hulls that are ten feet longer than the original. For towing purposes the vessels are being fitted with Intercon DW75 hydraulic towing winches with a minimum holding power of 350 short tons and a capacity of 3,000 feet of 2 1/2” cable and 4,200 feet of 2 3/4” cable. Tow wires are handled on deck with Triplex 350 MT shark jaws and 200 MT guide pins.

Designed to help safeguard the environment, all tanks containing oil and oil traces have been placed inboard of the sideshell and there will be no discharge of machinery cooling water or sewage.

Jensen’s McAllister Design
Besides the Ocean class, Crowley’s Jensen Maritime has also been busy with design work on a new tug for East coast operator McAllister Towing. The new boat will feature a JonRie 512 tow winch with a spool capacity of 2,100 feet of 2-inch wire at the stern and a JonRie 250 escort winch with full render/recover on the bow. To be built by Senesco Marine of North Kingstown, Rhode Island as Eric M. McAllister, the 96-foot by 34-foot twin Azimuth Stern Drive (ASD) tug will be the tenth Jensen-designed and first Tier 3 vessel in the McAllister fleet, following the similar Jensen-designed Andrew McAllister and Rosemary McAllister which were both completed in 2008.

The new tug will be equipped with two Caterpillar 3516CHD Tier 3 diesels and two Schottel 1215 Z-drives to provide an estimated running speed of 12 knots and a bollard pull of about 67 tons. For firefighting purposes the boat will be equipped with a pair of FFS 1200LB remotely controlled monitors connected to a 1,500-gallon capacity holding tank. A single FFS SFD 300-400 pump powered by a Caterpillar C32 engine will produce 11,967 gallons per minute, with foam capability, through the monitors. The new tugboat will be delivered in mid-2013.

Portland Commissioner Preparing Anti-Coal Resolution

Later this month, Portland, Oregon could become the latest city in the Pacific Northwest to officially oppose the possibility of new coal exports through the region.

Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz says she’s preparing a resolution to oppose the prospect of more coal trains traveling through the city.

Fritz, who made the revelation during an anti-coal rally in front of the Portland office of the Army Corps of Engineers, said she expects to present the resolution during the Sept. 19 Portland City Council meeting.

“We’re looking at the strongest resolution we can get passed,” she said at the Aug. 28 rally, which attracted about 150 people.

About 20 other Pacific Northwest cities and counties have already passed resolutions either opposing coal exports outright or raising concerns about it, including Seattle, where the City Council unanimously passed an anti-coal resolution May 29.

Other municipalities that have also passed anti-coal measures include Hood River, Oregon and three Washington cities, Camas, Marysville and Washougal.

The backlash is in response to the proposed development of about half a dozen coal export terminals through the Pacific Northwest, where coal would be brought in from other parts of the county by rail, then shipped to Asia. Among the largest proposals is one at the Port of Longview, where Millennium Bulk Terminals has applied for permits to build a $600 million terminal in a bid to become one of the biggest coal exporters in North America.

Several of the other larger coal export related port expansions are also now undergoing the formal permitting process, including Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in Washington state; Kinder Morgan Terminals at St. Helen’s, Oregon; and Coyote Island Terminal at the Port of Morrow.

Opponents of the proposed terminals have raised concerns about potential rail congestion and environmental damage, specifically the possibility of coal dust escaping from inbound trains and harming the local air quality.

Proponents however, have said that measures would be taken to ensure that dust would not escape, but that the terminals could bring hundreds of temporary and permanent jobs to the region.

Longshore Union, Employers to Resume Negotiations

An East Coast union representing dockworkers from Texas to Canada has agreed to resume contract negotiations with an employers group with which it broke off talks in August.

The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and United States Maritime Alliance, or USMX, have consented to resume talks during the week of Sept. 17, according to the Washington DC-based Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Talks are resuming at the federal agency’s request, according to a Sept. 6 FMCS press release.

“Due to the sensitivity of this high profile dispute and consistent with the Agency’s longstanding practice, we will not disclose either the location of the meeting or the content of the substantive negotiations that will take place,” FMCS Director George Cohen said in the announcement.

The maritime alliance represents employers at 14 ports and 24 ocean carriers; the ILA has about 65,000 members. The contract between the employers group and union expires Sept. 30, but the two sides are far apart on the issue of implementing technology to improve terminal efficiency.

The longshore union represents workers on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major US rivers, Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada. But if an agreement isn’t reached, the ripple effect could reach the other side of the US, since some shippers could opt to bypass ports with striking workers in favor of West Coast ports. The contract for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents West Coast port labor, doesn’t expire until July 1, 2014.

Union Pacific Unveils Reduced Emissions Train

Union Pacific Railroad has unveiled an experimental reduced emissions locomotive at its JR Davis Yard in Roseville, California.

The UP 9900, which spent years in development, is to be used for operations in Northern California ranging about 200 miles from its Roseville base, according to the railroad. While in service, it will test three emissions-reducing technologies: exhaust gas recirculation, diesel oxidation catalysts and diesel particulate filters.

The train, according to Union Pacific, is the signature unit in a series of 25 locomotives that UP is analyzing as part of a broad test of various emissions-reduction techniques in both northern and southern California.

Union Pacific engineers worked with locomotive manufacturer Electro-Motive Diesel to reduce the standard freight locomotive engine size in the UP 9900 to create the space needed to install the emission reduction technologies.

UP says the three technologies will be used simultaneously in UP 9900 testing, and are expected to help further development of a locomotive that meets the US EPA’s Tier 4 emission standard.

Union Pacific and the California Air Resources Board plan to jointly analyze the locomotive’s emissions-reductions capability over the next 18 months.

The UP 9900 is scheduled to be available for public viewing Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30 in Old Sacramento, California as part of the railroad’s community celebration, dubbed “Union Pacific – Building America for 150 Years!” The event is a partnership with California State Parks and the California State Railroad Museum, and commemorates 150 years since President Abraham Lincoln created the original Union Pacific by signing the Pacific Railway Act of July 1, 1862.