Tag Archives: Tug

Nostalgia, neuralgia, Archers

For those of you out there who aren’t familiar with the long running radio soap, The Archers, it’s a gentle tale of mainly middle class English rural land owning types and their daily dealings with the vagaries of the EU Common Agricultural Policy and the dastardly doings of lesser folks.

A shock then, when seeking the weekly summary on the fan site ‘haharchers.blogspot.co.uk’, to be greeted with the following opening paragraph.

“We start the week with Jazzer at a loose end. I can’t help thinking there must have been a misunderstanding when Jim suggested they go out looking for birds together. I wonder if it was the prospect of a nice pair of tits, a shag, and the first swallow of spring.”

Cripes, it was never like that in my day.

A round up of things allatsea over the last couple of weeks.

All went well on the the goodship Thialf; jacket, piles and the little topside intermediate piece went together swimmingly well. The weather added around 11 days to the operation but that is to be expected in that part of the world in April. The weather god rarely reads the script.

Travelled down sarf from Aberdeen on the Flybe service. Hmm, OK yes, but slow slow slow, the best part of 2 hours on a Dash 8. Home a few days and a day trip to Rotterdam to kick the tyres on a tug. A nice tug. Not overly big at 48m overall and a 100 odd tons of bollard pull, but nice and well run and a pleasure to visit. German managers, master and mate. Good lads. Thanks Bremen Fighter. Ooh, and I learned that walking from Haven 272, Lekshaven to Lloydkarde takes about 30 minutes, as long as you don’t get lost. Thanks to ‘Here Maps’ and the proficient folks at the road signing department, I didn’t.

Grandad allatsea in 1920ish, went to Margate for a day out. Then went home again, eventually.

A sailor in a sailor’s suit, he joined for the rum, bum and baccy.

Sunday morning and two dental implants and ……a sinus uplift at Birchington. The surgeon came down from London in his very fine looking red Tesla sports car. They are, I believe, expensive. That might explain the fee of £4450 he charged me for 30 minutes work. My wallet’s still damaged and the left side of my face resembles a football. I’m all for folks earning a living with their carefully nurtured skills, but that hourly rate, frankly, is taking the piss. The teeth that will be  put on said implants are a snip at a mere £3500.  Groan.

Anyway, I’d factored in a good two weeks of face recovery time so wasn’t overly bothered by the hideous characteristics the boat-race had assumed. Not bothered until a  nearly overlooked email on the works BlackBerry (wtf still uses them, apart from our lot?) wanted me to confirm my travel arrangements to Lerwick this coming weekend!!  The sodding goodship Thialf beckons again it seems. Onwards and upwards then, this time west of Shetland and some very critical (weather wise)  lifts to do. If the Atlantic swell doesn’t cooperate, it could be a long long trip. Hopefully the swelling will have gone down (ooh vicar) by then.

Two Mums

Good news from France

The following from the good folks at gCaptain: 

Goodnews indeed:

modern express under tow
The Modern Express under tow in the Bay of Biscay, February 1, 2016. Photo credit: Marine Nationale

A salvage team was successful in their last ditch attempt to save the adrift cargo ship Modern Express from running aground along the French coast.

The ship was taken under tow Monday morning at 11:45 a.m. after a four-man team from SMIT Salvage boarded the vessel by helicopter and were able to connect a tow line.

The ship is under tow by the tug Centaurus, which is towing the vessel out to sea at a speed of 3 knots. The convoy was located 24 nautical miles from the coast as of 1:15 p.m.

It is important to note that the Modern Express is not out of danger yet, as the tow line could break potentially.

Weather on scene is reported to be winds of Force 4 (20 to 28 km / h) and waves of 3 to 3.5 meters.

The salvage team was lifted off the vessel by a French Navy helicopter before the tow commenced.

Modern express under tow
Modern Express under tow by the tug Centurion, February 1, 2016. Photo credit: Marine Nationale

Earlier attempts to tow the vessel on Friday and again Saturday were thwarted by heavy weather, leaving the ship drifting towards the French coast in the Bay of Biscay. Weather on Sunday prevented salvors from ever boarding the vessel, making today’s attempt their last chance to rescue the vessel before running aground somewhere in vicinity of Landesdepartment (county) in France.

The Panamanian-flagged pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) Modern Express first developed a severe list on Tuesday while underway in the Bay of Biscay about 200 nautical miles from the southwest of the tip of Penmarch, France. From there the ship drifted eastward into French waters, covering hundreds of miles before the tow commenced some 24 nautical miles from Arcachon, France on Monday morning.

All 22 crew members were evacuated by Spanish search and rescue helicopters after issuing a MAYDAY call last Tuesday (Jan. 26).


The vessel is carrying 3,600 tons of timber and construction equipment, which is believed to have shifted in heavy seas. The vessel also has some 300 tons of diesel fuel aboard.

The Modern Express’s owner Cido Shipping hired SMIT Salvage to save the ship.


The incident occurred as the Modern Express was sailing from Gabon, Africa to the port of Le Havre, France.

Responding to the incident have been two contracted tugs, Centaurus and Ria Vigo, the French emergency tug Abeille Bourbon, the French Navy frigate Primauguet with a Lynx helicopter, and the AHTS Argonaute.

There have been no reports of pollution.

Some big big big numbers in the following article taken from Shipping News.

Deckhands on harbour tugs are generally regarded as the least skilled of seafarers, requiring an ability on a par with wiping your own arse after poohpoohs and little more. Still if the daft Ozzy loooonatics want to pay them more than the highest skilled deep water  AHT Masters, then so be  it. Bring on national bankruptcy. Your country, your choice.


Tugboat workers at Australia’s biggest iron ore port have approved a plan to go on strike, which would halt a quarter of the world’s iron ore exports, if they are unable to resolve a dispute over leave and pay, their union said on Monday.
Deckhands in the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) voted to strike for one, two or seven days, but remain in talks with tugboat operator Teekay Shipping Australia to resolve the dispute, the union said.
No date or timeframe has been set for a strike, which would halt iron ore shipments by BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group Together they supply more than half of Australia’s iron ore exports. Industrial action is always a last resort and we still hope that we can come to an agreement without having to take the action which has been sanctioned by the Fair Work Commission,” MUA Assistant Western Australia secretary Will Tracey said in a statement. If the workers decide to go on strike, they must do so within 30 days, and must give Teekay three days’ notice ahead of any strike. Iron ore is Australia’s biggest export earner, with the value of exports forecast to surge 35 percent to A$76.8 billion ($71.8 billion) in the year to June 2014 from a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics. “Given the current wages and conditions, we think it would be irresponsible for the MUA to take industrial action that would put a stop to one of Australia’s most critical national exports,” a BHP Billiton spokeswoman said. BHP, which holds the licence for the tugboats at Port Hedland, estimated a strike would cost suppliers who use the port around A$100 million ($93.5 million )a day. “Mining companies like BHP Billiton are not able to make up lost volume of this nature, and governments cannot recover these lost royalties and taxes,” BHP’s spokeswoman said in a statement emailed to Reuters. The vote by the deckhands was the first of three by tugboat crew members. Tugboat masters and engineers, who belong to two other unions, are voting separately on whether to strike. The ballot result for the masters is due on May 30, while the engineers’ ballot result is due on June 10. BHP said it remained hopeful that Teekay would be able to reach an agreement with the maritime unions. Teekay declined to comment on its negotiations with the tugboat crews, saying a further mediation hearing is set for May 20.

Deckhands, who work four-weeks-on and four-weeks-off for A$135,000 a year, are pressing for four weeks annual leave on top of that. They say that is less than the industry standard of six weeks annual leave for workers who are on a similar roster. “We think this is very reasonable, given our members work 12 hours a day for 28 days straight in very tough conditions,” Tracey said, adding that better wages and annual leave were crucial to attracting the best workers to the remote location. They are also seeking pay rates of 70 percent of the A$220,000 that tugboat masters earn, which they say would match the pay gap between deckhands and masters at other Australian ports. Australia’s biggest iron ore producer, Rio Tinto, would not be hit by any strike at Port Hedland as it does not use that port. ($1 = 1.0697 Australian Dollars) Source

Back in the day when allatsea first went ‘offshore’ rather than being your traditional   ‘mariner’,  a ‘big’  tug, be it deep sea salvage or a very large anchor handler, had around 15000 BHP, which with good props, nozzles and a deep draft, would give around 185 tonnes bollard pull (BP). The article below, from gCaptain, suggests that the day of the 300 tonne BP tug is upon us. Hmmmmmm.
Now when you consider that the diameter of the  towing wire required for  a tug of 185 tonnes BP  was in the region of 76-83mm and that the connection jewellery was then at the  limits of assisted manhandling it rather begs the question of how they’re going to make it all work in the practical sense. Wires of what, 120mm diameter and pear links/shackles with a mass of 350kg each.
Deep joy it is not.
Norwegian shipbuilder Ulstein Group announced its big entry into the long-haul ocean towing segment with a design and equipment package contract for four 300 ton bollard pull tugs featuring the unmistakable X-Bow.
The vessels will primarily designed for the towing of large structures over long distances, representing Ulstein’s entry into a new market and the single largest contract for Ulstein Design & Solutions to date.
The four vessels will be built by Niigata Shipbuilding & Repair in Japan for the Dutch company ALP Maritime Services, a new customer for Ulstein, and designed for worldwide operations. They are scheduled for delivered by Q4 2015 and Q1 2016.
The design is called the SX157, developed in close collaboration with ALP, which Ulstein says is expected to deliver in the range of a whopping 300 ton bollard pull and measure 88.9 meters long by 21 meters wide.

The four ocean going tugs will be constructed at Niigata, Japan. Their project manager, Shigeru Morioka (middle), was present at the contract announcement at Ulstein Design & Solutions in Norway on Monday. To the left in the photo is Sigurd Viseth, managing director UDS, to the right, area sales manager Ove Dimmen, UDS. Photo courtesy Ulstein Group

Niigata project manager, Shigeru Morioka (middle), UDS managing director, Sigurd Viseth (left) and UDS area sales manager, Ove Dimmen (right). Photo courtesy Ulstein Group
“This is a very important contract, involving activities in a new market for us and with a new customer involved. The contract is a result of close cooperation with the shipyard, the ship owner and our partners in the Norwegian maritime cluster, a cooperation we will work to develop further in the years to come,” says deputy CEO Tore Ulstein in Ulstein Group.
“An oceangoing tug typically tow oil rigs, or FPSOs, from the building yards to the installation site at the oil field,” says managing director Sigurd Viseth in Ulstein Design & Solutions. ”In addition, these vessels are outfitted with DP2 and anchor handling capacity in order to assist during the installation/hook-up phase for the towed objects. The SX157 have fuel capacity to tow over long distances, with the ability of towing at full power for 45 days. This is a niche market where we see that our solutions can be a positive contribution.”
Viseth added: “Within each project we work strategically in order to come up with safer, smarter and greener solutions. ALP refers to these four ships as the ‘ALP Future Class’. When developing the design we had to ensure that each vessel has the sufficient bollard pull and operational reliability to handle even the heaviest tows by only two vessels. Environment and fuel efficiency have also been important criteria. The vessels are classed with DNV’s Clean Design and Ice Class 1B notations, which allow operation also in restricted zones. Additionally, they are equipped as anchor handling vessels including stern roller, a three-drummed winch with 400-ton hoisting capacity, and with chain lockers for rig chain. The ships have a comfortable and spacious accommodation for 35 persons reflecting long periods at sea.”
In addition to providing the design, Ulstein is also responsible for the deliveries of main components, such as engines, thrusters and propellers, winch, power distribution and thruster drives, control system and communication system.
Niigata Shipbuilding & Repair is part of Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. ALP Maritime Services is subsidiary of Teekay Offshore Partners L.P.
Vessel Characteristics Via Ulstein:

Long Distance Towing
High bollard pull: For the towing of very large floating objects
Also equipped for: Anchor Handling, positioning, mooring
Dynamic Positioning Class II
Worldwide work
Optimal seagoing characteristics (ULSTEIN X-BOW®)
Fuel efficient
Clean Design
Comfort Class Comf-V (3)
Ice Class 1B
Fire Fighting: (FiFi II)
Cargo deck area: 550 m2
Four engines, capacity 18,000 kW / 600 rpm
Deck cargo: 2,400 tons – 10t/m2 Max
DWT: 4,250 tonnes