Coastal Transportation Sets a New STANDARD
After more than 30 years of weekly liner service to Western Alaska with a fleet of five or six small fish tender vessels specifically designed for service between Seattle and the ports of Western Alaska, Coastal Transportation's president Peter Strong decided that the time was right to commission a new vessel designed specifically to suit the company's routes and cargo. Coastal Transportation's refrigerated vessels are 210 to 244 feet long and are characterized by their yard-and-stay cargo gear, which is reliable and fast in most applications, but has its limitations. Peter Strong took several research trips to Norway, often accompanied by company VP Elliot Strong and port engineer John Fisker-Andersen, who was instrumental in the production of the vessel. In Norway, the men identified a new way of loading cargoes on and off a refrigerated ship: the sideport loading system built by TTS of Bergen (Norway). This loading system is based on the premise that the best way to load or discharge palletized cargo is by the shortest possible path – through the ship's side. The system has been well tested in northern Europe on the Baltic Sea and Scandinavian coast but is new to North America.
Peter Strong wanted the new vessel's hull design to incorporate the company's extensive experience in operating freighters in the Aleutians and asked Fisker-Andersen and now-retired company general manager Tim Shaffer to establish the design parameters and details of the new ship with 25 percent more capacity than the average of 100,000 cubic feet on the company's current boats that would incorporate the sideport-loading system. This would be the first purpose-built Jones-act reefer vessel for several generations. The result is the 240-foot Coastal Standard, designed by Naviform Consulting and Research of Vancouver BC, led by naval architect Pieter van Diepen. This small marine research and engineering team was chosen for its ability to bring a new approach to the project, especially the latest ideas on simplified hull shape and construction with curved plating using a state-of the-art proprietary process developed by Naviform.
The overall length was limited by the size of the docks in the small ports of the Alaskan Peninsula, Aleutian Islands, and Pribilof Islands served by Coastal Transportation. Even their original vessels, at under 200 feet in length overall, had difficulty in places like Chignik, owing to short dock lengths. In such places the docks are too short for some boats' cargo gear to work two hatches at once, which means wasted time and extra labor for the crew, moving the boat back and forth at the dock. At the company's CTI North facility in Iliuliuk Bay at Dutch Harbor it is always a challenge for the captain to maneuver around docks, reefs, and other vessels.
Nonetheless, over the years the average length of CTI's boats increased to 260 feet. At the company base on Seattle's Ship Canal by the Ballard Bridge, the maximum draft is 18 feet, while in shallow Bristol Bay ports like Port Moller a ship might have to sit on the Harbor bottom between tides. So draft is also a factor. Reducing the length to 242 feet and the operational draft to 16 feet while increasing the beam by 14 feet to 54 feet in order to raise cargo capacity meant that the new ship would have a flat-bottomed hull with a high block-coefficient. It was therefore decided that tank testing would be necessary to ensure that it would still be hydro-dynamically-efficient and economical to run.
A 16-foot scale model was tested at the Force Technology 240-meter deep-water towing tank in Brondby, Denmark with various types of bulbous bow and stern shapes. The results showed that a distinctive type of flattened bulb, a concave entry, and radiused plating at the turn of the bilge all contributed to a significant reduction in hull resistance. After more than two years of construction at Dakota Creek Shipyard in Anacortes, overseen by Fisker-Andersen, the Coastal Standard was launched in October 2015 and is now fitting out for sea trials to begin early this year.
Instead of conventional thrusters, the ship is fitted with two Schottel azimuthing pump jets (also known as "omnithrusters") one forward and one amidships. These electrically-driven units do not project below the bottom, yet can propel the ship sideways or forward at up to 7 knots if the main engine is off-line. In addition, a Schottel controllable-pitch propeller will allow the engine to run at optimum rpm for any speed and sea condition. For more efficient steering, the rudder – built in-house by the Shipyard – has a bulb in line with the shaft.
Sideport Cargo Elevator
The ship's most visible feature is the clean deck without hatches or cargo gear. The only access to the cargo is via the hatch in the topside that opens at the touch of a button to expose the upper hold. Vertical tracks for the two elevator platforms run on each side of the hatch, with hydraulic arms that swing the pallets horizontally from dock edge into the interior. The elevators then transport the loading arm and pallets down to the lower hold or up to the upper hold or weather deck where forklift drivers stow them for transit.
The safe working load for each platform varies between 6,600 pounds and 9,000 pounds depending on their extension from the side of the hull. Each platform can be used independently carrying two pallets at a time, or a total of 4 pallets if locked together, when they can lift loads as long as 20 feet and weighing up to 13,000 pounds. This means heavy, awkward items such as lumber and pipe can also be lifted up to the weather deck. Key benefits of side loading systems include increased turnaround speed in port, low damage rates, drier cargo holds and reduced labor. The elevators are simple to operate, and don't require a dedicated gear driver. They can be pre-set to load a particular hold or deck by the forklift driver with a remote control. A rate of up to 200 pallets an hour is expected once the crew has become familiar with the system.
Propulsion and Electrical Power
The Coastal Standard is powered with a single Caterpillar C280-8 main engine that produces 3084 HP at 900 rpm. It is Tier 2 compliant and weighs almost 21 short tons. The reduction gear is a Reintjes LAF-2355. Fuel consumption at 12 knots will be around 1,300 gallons per day. The average speed of the Coastal Transportation fleet is 12 knots, but the Standard will be capable of 14 knots, at increased fuel consumption rates, if that is necessary for a particular cargo or schedule. The ship's main engine will provide electrical power as well as propulsion using an 800-kW shaft generator system from the German company AEM.
Dockside and as back-up there are two John Deere 370 kW generator sets. The ship also has an additional emergency genset, a John Deere 70 kW unit, located outside the engine room in case of engine room fire or flooding. The sea chests are located on the side of the hull rather than on the bottom, to prevent mud being picked up when the ship dries out at Port Moller. The engineering spaces were carefully designed to reduce vibration and noise throughout the rest of the ship. The exhaust mufflers are mounted on oversized vibration dampeners, and the entire stack is physically separated from the house.
The space beneath the Standard's lower cargo hold is a void with wiring and piping routed through it and away from the cargo holds. Instead of disposable Ballast Water, the ship will use a "technical water" system, retained in tanks in the bow and the stern, and transferred as necessary to trim the ship. While the Coastal Standard will carry a variety of cargo up to Alaska, she is at heart a refrigerated vessel designed to carry frozen seafood down to Seattle in her two cargo holds.
The cargo hold layout was specifically designed for the rapid loading and quick stowage of palletized cargo, so there is no flare or tumblehome in the topsides, and the deck layout is as rectilinear as possible. The decks in the holds are all diamond-plate for maximum forklift traction, with LED lighting. The bulkheads are protected by thick insulation sheathed in heavy plywood. Since maintaining frozen product quality is vital to fishermen and seafood processors, Coastal Transportation gave the Coastal Standard the best reefer plant their experts could devise. The Freon refrigeration system includes two Mayekawa F170JS-T-125 100-HP rotary screw compressors with refrigeration coils in the cargo holds as opposed to blast air evaporators. The coils eliminate the dehydration problems in frozen product associated with blast air systems and are recessed to avoid damage from forklifts, and carefully placed for maximum heat absorption.
Boats in the Coastal Transportation fleet run on a 28-day rotation. The crew size varies from 8 to 9 persons, with three to four officers and four to five unlicensed crew per voyage. The crew does all the work during cargo operations in Alaska ports, including driving the ship's two Toyota 7F electric forklifts. Trouble free performance of the forklifts is key to the operation. For that reason they are housed in a dedicated garage and shop on the weather deck.