Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

New Vessel Review


January 1, 2018

The 132-foot by 41-foot Nicole Foss was the last of three Arctic Class tugs built for Foss Maritime at the Foss Rainier Shipyard. Photo courtesy of Peter Marsh.

The last year has seen NW builders completing an outstanding number of vessels that represent the leading edge of nautical engineering. From two of the first Tier 4 tugs in the nation to sophisticated passenger vessels of all types, regional yards continue to meet every technical challenge while maintaining their reputation for reliability and quality.

The delivery of a complete ABS-certified ATB unit to transport liquid ammonia on the Gulf coast clearly demonstrated this ability. Client Savage chose two Northwest companies to complete this demanding project: Vigor Fab for the complex 508-foot by 96-foot tank barge, and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders for the matching 139-foot 8,000 hp tug.

Abundance/Harvest ATB

The Harvest is the first liquefied ammonia transport barge built in the US since 1982, and will safely transport anhydrous ammonia, a key ingredient in fertilizer. The Harvest features a state-of-the-art, onboard re-liquefaction plant powered by four Caterpillar 940kW gen-sets, plus a 163kW auxiliary unit, which keeps 22,000 tons of liquid ammonia cooled to -27 degrees F. The ATB connection system is from Articouple, using a hydraulic connecting-pin system, with a USCG and ABS approved Ballast Water treatment system.

The 139-foot by 44-foot by 19-foot ATB tug Abundance that supplies the propulsion to the Harvest is based on a design by Ocean Tug and Barge Engineering, of Milford, Massachusetts, with production engineering by BMT Nigel Gee, Southampton UK, and engineering support by Nichols Bros. The tug is classed ABS Maltese Cross A1-Towing, meets USCG Subchapter I, and all rules for unrestricted ocean pushing/towing service. It is powered by two EMD 16-710T13 Tier 3 diesel engines, each rated at 4,000 hp at 900 rpm. They connect to Rolls Royce propellers and nozzles via two Lufkin RHS 3200 reduction gears. Steering is through two Rolls Royce Promas FMP flap rudders. Electrical Power is supplied by two Caterpillar C7.1 200 kW Tier 3 auxiliary generators, one Caterpillar C9.3 200 kW Tier 3 generator mounted fire pump and one Caterpillar C7.1 128W Tier 3 emergency generator system.

The hull is double-bottomed, and weighs more than 1,400 long tons, making it the heaviest, and deepest draft vessel in the Shipyard's fifty-year history. The Harvest is also far heavier than a typical 500-foot barge, so both yards needed to upgrade their launching systems. The Abundance/Harvest ATB is operated by Savage Inland Marine, LLC, one of the Savage Companies, under contract to Mosaic, a leading producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate and potash. Nichols Bros. has begun construction on an identical second tug, scheduled for delivery in the spring of 2018.

Mount Baker and Mount Drum

Nichols' Whidbey Island yard was filled to capacity throughout the year with new construction that included the first of two 120-foot by 35-foot twin-screw line-haul tugs for Kirby Offshore Marine. Design is by Jensen Maritime Consultants of Seattle, and is classed, ABS Maltese Cross, A1 towing service, AMS UWILD, and complies with USCG Subchapter C. They are powered by two Caterpillar 3516C main engines producing 2,447 BHP at 1,600 rpm with Reintjes reduction gears turning two NautiCAN fixed pitched propellers in nozzles. These vessels also have two John Deere 6090AFM85 generators for electrical service. Deck machinery includes one TESD-34 Markey 100HP double drum tow winch, one CEW-60 Markey electric capstan, and one M&S Marine Solutions Tow Pin.

Mount Baker joined Kirby's fleet in May 2017 while the sister-ship Mount Drum will be delivered by the end of 2017. These vessels will be the third and fourth large tugs Nichols has delivered to Kirby in the last year.

Two More for Harley

Following the widespread reporting of the launch of the 120-foot Tier 4 ASD tug Earl W Redd for Harley Marine in January 2017, the Diversified Marine Shipyard in Portland, Oregon continued assembly of modules for two more vessels for the same owner. These ship-handling tugs are "enhanced" RAmparts 2400 tractors from Robert Allan naval architects of Vancouver, BC. They are the third and fourth tugs to this design in Harley's fleet, all with a length of 80 feet, a beam of 36 feet and a depth of 16 feet, 8 inches.

Always seeking to employ the best-available technology, Harley achieved another "first" by specifying a Caterpillar's complete power and propulsion system designed specifically for tug operations, ordering four Caterpillar 3516 C Tier 3 engines and four Cat Propulsion Marine Thruster Azimuth-Tug (MTA-T) drives. This combination delivers 2,575 hp (1,920 kW) at 1,600 rpm for a total of approximately 5,200 horsepower turning a 95.5-inch (2,400-mm) diameter propeller that can produce 70 short tons of bollard pull.

Cat Propulsion's complete package includes high-speed shafting, clutches, and a PTO on the main engine to power the steering and lubrication system for the MTA. The display consoles control engine and thruster functions and the Caterpillar C7.1, Tier 3 generators. The vessels are each equipped with a Markey bow winch, a barge handling stern winch, and Shibata cylindrical fendering. The tugs are named for Dr. Hank Kaplan of Swedish Cancer Institute, and Rich Padden, a long-serving Harley Marine Services board member and community leader.

Foss Multi-Purpose Tractor

The second Tier 4 tug launched on the Columbia River in 2017 was the 110-foot Caden Foss, built by JT Marine in Vancouver, Washington. It was specifically designed by Jensen Maritime and the owners Vessel Chartering LLC, a subsidiary of Baydelta Navigation Ltd., for charter to Foss Maritime from a base at the Chevron Long Wharf in Richmond, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The goal was to create a vessel capable of ship-assist, escort, standby and rescue towing assignments. It was built without ballast tanks to eliminate the issues with ballast-water discharge. Trim will be maintained by pumping fuel between multiple tanks.

The SCR units for the two Caterpillar 3516E Tier 4 engines are located directly above the main engines, with a 5,000-gallon urea tank placed below the aft deck. The V-16 engines are rated at 3,386 hp at 1,800 rpm, turning carbon-fiber Centa shafts connected to Rolls-Royce US 255 Z-drives with fixed-pitch NiBrAl propellers. Two Caterpillar 150-kW gensets and a Caterpillar 65-kW unit provide auxiliary power. Cat has estimated that Foss Maritime should save more than $1 million over a 15-year lifecycle on total fluid consumption (diesel plus diesel exhaust fluid) costs compared to an equivalent Tier 2-powered vessel.

On the bow is a single-drum Markey Machinery DEPCF-52 electric hawser winch with Markey's proprietary wheelhouse controls. On the aft deck is the first electric towing winch from Rapp Marine with a double-drum. One side holds 2,500 feet of 2.5-inch wire and a shot of chain on top of the wire. The 100-hp motor is backed up by an auxiliary electric "come home" drive. The brakes are run by pneumatic cylinders in place of hydraulics, to avoid the chance of spilling fluid. The remote controls in the wheelhouse are based on Rapp's PTS Pentagon Control System with full automated features.

Foss arctic Tug

The 132-foot by 41-foot Nicole Foss was the last of three arctic Class tugs built for Foss Maritime at the Foss Rainier Shipyard in Oregon on the south side of the Columbia River. The complex design by Glosten was for a vessel that could safely navigate in the extreme conditions of the arctic; it complies with the ABS Guide for vessels intended to operate in polar waters, ABS Towing, AMS, ABCU, Ice Class D0, SOLAS and Green Passport. The hulls are reinforced to handle first-year ice up to a meter thick likely to be encountered along Alaska's North Slope, where the first two arctic class tugs have already seen service.

Propulsion is provided by a pair of Caterpillar Tier 2 C280-8 engines, with a total of 7,300 hp, and Reintjes reduction gears, which produce 100 metric tons of bollard pull through two Nautican propulsion units. Markey Machinery provided a WEWD-22 bow winch and a custom double-drum tow winch with a water-cooled slip brake and below-deck diesel power. The main deck tow gear includes a 200 metric ton shark jaws, tow pins, and split stern rollers, all provided by Smith Berger. The winch is under-wound and when combined with the flush deck stern roller and tow pins, provides a much safer environment for the crew. The winch's slip brake significantly reduces the chance of a broken tow wire by shaving off the peak tensions experienced in rough ocean tows.

The tug incorporates many features necessary for cold weather operations such as heavy scantlings, reinforced drivetrain, and redundant and independent port and starboard steering. Additionally, Foss included fresh water tank heating; enclosed bulwarks; wing voids around all machinery and fuel tanks; a fully covered main winch; and exterior machinery heating. All of these help ensure safe and reliable operations in frozen waters. In addition, the tugs also incorporate several environmental features, including the elimination of ballast tanks, double bottoms, and an impressed-current cathodic protection system.

Fred Wahl Tug

The shallow-draft push-tug Tanana is the second boat built by Fred Wahl in Reedsport, Oregon for Ruby Marine in Nenana, Alaska on the Yukon River. In 2007, Wahl delivered the 72-foot by 30-foot Yukon designed by Frank Basile of Entech & Associates, Kenner, Louisiana. With the purchase of the Inland Barge Service in 2016, Ruby needed a second modern boat to handle the increased workload and ensure reliability. The new tug, the Tanana, is a sister ship to the Yukon, built to an updated design from Entech, with the same versatility, power and stability.

The flat-bottom hull has a depth of 5.5 feet and a draft of only 3.5 feet – necessary to navigate along Alaska's arctic Bering Sea coast and 1,000 miles up the Yukon River to the Canadian border to some 30 communities, fish camps, and mines. It is built to ABS standards and plated mainly in 1/4-inch steel with half-inch material where necessary to resist impacts from rocks. The cargo is carried on a pair of 150-foot tank barges with reinforced decks. It consists of everything needed to survive in this remote area, including various vehicles, small containers, totes, and more than 300,000 gallons of fuel below deck.

The most visible difference is in the engine room, where propulsion is provided by three Scania DI16 080M V-8 diesels, each rated at 550 hp (405 kW) continuous at 1,800 rpm. This Swedish Tier 3 engine features individual four-valve cylinder heads with wet cylinder liners. Reduction gears are Twin Disc MG 5202 SC, 2.48:1 with 4-inch drive shafts. Controls are from Kobelt, fuel treatment is by Alfa Laval, the exhaust system is heavyweight stainless steel with Broomfield's flex joints custom-made in Seattle, with silencers by Harco of Tualatin, Oregon.

The three 38-inch by 26-inch, five-bladed Kaplan stainless steel propellers are by Kruger & Sons of Seattle. They are tucked up into tunnels and protected from grounding by heavy keel shoes with a pair of flanking rudders around each propeller shaft. Duramax supplied the side coolers. The gensets are a pair of 60-kW John Deere 4045's. The Rapp HP 24-2F deck crane and the Gongol fire pump are supplied by a Logan SPF-6100 hydraulic PTO on the center Scania. The typical crew is four to five, and there are accommodations for ten in eight staterooms, each with two heads and shower, and a full galley with comfortable mess area.

Expedition Cruise Ship

Nichols Bros. Boat Builders has been so busy building commercial ferries and tugs in recent years, that it's easy to forget the Whidbey Island yard built a reputation in the 1980's and 90's for small cruise vessels – many with luxury accommodations. Back in 1982, they launched a pair of 150-foot cruise ships that were later re-named Sea Lion and Sea Bird when they joined the Lindblad fleet. So the award of a $94.8 million contract for two 238.5-foot tour boats from Lindblad Expedition Holdings renewed this tradition, and Lindblad's alliance with National Geographic brought national attention to the project.

These steel vessels were designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants of Seattle with a 48-foot beam and 50 double-occupancy cabins. They are powered by twin Caterpillar Tier 3 engines with a total of 3,200 HP turning twin propellers that will drive the ship at about 12 knots. With a draft of 9'6", they are designed to visit small ports in Baja Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama during the winter months; and Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Canada during the summer. The National Geographic Quest is the eighth ship in the Nat Geo-Lindblad fleet, and is described as the "first expedition ship built from scratch in the US."

In keeping with the hands-on style of these trips, both are equipped with Zodiac inflatables and kayaks, snorkeling gear, exercise equipment, and a wide range of cameras to record the surrounding wildlife. A photo instructor, a video chronicler, an undersea specialist, and a wellness specialist accompany every voyage; and Internet access and an elevator are available on board. The guests will also find state-of-the-art expedition technology, including a remotely operated vehicle, video microscope, and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed for immediate bow deployment to hear and film marine life. Construction is now underway on the second ship, the National Geographic Venture, which is scheduled for completion in 2018.


The Vigor Shipyard in Seattle completed the third in a series of four 362-foot ro/ro ferries for Washington State Ferries in April, named Chimacum. The Olympic-class vessels can carry 144 vehicles on two decks and 1,500 passengers. Propulsion comes from twin EMD 12-710 engines producing 6,000 total horsepower for a service speed of 17 knots. The new vessel replaced the Hyak on the ferry system's busy Seattle-to-Bremerton route. Vigor delivered the first, Tokitae, in 2014, the second, Samish. In 2015, and fourth and final boat, Suquamish, will launch in 2018. The four-vessel contract is worth more than $500 million.

Vigor's Shipyard in Ketchikan, Alaska, continued work on two 280-foot ro-pax ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Elliott Bay Design Group designed the vessels named Tazlina and Hubbard, which can hold 300 people and up to 53 vehicles each. The two ferries will be delivered in 2018.

Three of Seattle's top naval architects will be involved in the design and engineering of three new ferries for the Staten Island NY service, which runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and carries more than 23 million passengers every year between the St. George Terminal in Staten Island and the Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan. The double-ended Ollis-class 320-foot ferries will be built by Eastern Shipbuilding of Panama City, Fla., and powered by four EMD 12-710 Tier 4 engines generating a combined 9,980 hp. Two engines will turn Reintjes DUP 3000P combining reduction gears and a Voith Schneider propeller at each end of the boat. The ferries will have seating for 2,551 passengers and can carry an additional 2,000 standing. (The five-mile trip is free.) Eastern selected Guido Perla & Associates of Seattle as the detail designer, and Glosten of Seattle will handle onsite owner's representation.


Also in Seattle, at the former Kvichak yard, Vigor delivered a second high-speed catamaran ferry to the Water Emergency Transportation Authority of San Francisco. The lead vessel in the series, Hydrus, was delivered early in the year, the second, Cetus, arrived in July. The Australian company Incat Crowther provided the design that combines fuel efficiency with low wake-wash characteristics. The 135-foot, 400-passenger aluminum ferries are powered by two MTU 12V 4000 M64 Tier 3 engines each rated for 1,875 hp, coupled with ZF 7600 reduction gears turning Michigan Wheel NiBrAl props. Service speed is 27 knots.

Each engine is paired with a Hug Engineering selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust treatment system using a sprayed urea diesel fluid to break harmful chemicals. This makes these cats two of the lowest-emission ferries currently operating in North America. "The four Vigor vessels will play critical roles in maintaining service reliability in WETA's planned expansion of the ferry service on the San Francisco Bay," said Nina Rannells, WETA executive director. Vigor also received approval to build two more sister vessels due in 2018.

Juneau Whale Watch is proudly supporting Alaskan companies by having its new boat designed and built in state. Anchorage-based Coastwise Corp. designed the 49-passenger vessel and Bay Welding Services of Homer, Alaska, built the 49.5-foot by 17.5-foot aluminum catamaran Atlin, delivered last spring. It has an unusual propulsion system: four 350-hp Yamaha 5.3-liter V8 outboard engines, each weighing 780 lbs, with hydraulic power steering.

This gives a top speed of more than 40 knots and 28 knots cruising with a full load of 49 passengers and three crew. The vessel has two decks, with enclosed and open viewing areas and a second-deck wheelhouse. This breezy upper deck is open to passengers for a higher viewing position. A 500-gallon tank provides sufficient range. Bay Welding is located at the center of a busy fishing and boating community and takes pride in hiring employees who have practical experience in maritime fields. The company employs an average of 20 workers, and builds custom aluminum craft of all types and sizes up to 60 feet.

Maui to Molokini

In March, Navatek Boat Builders of Honolulu, Hawaii, delivered the 70-foot aluminum catamaran Calypso for Quicksilver Charters of Lahaina, Hawaii from Ma'alaea Harbor, Maui to Molokini. Incat Crowther designed the 149-passenger vessel specifically for snorkeling tours in the day and dinner cruises from Maui in the evening. Calypso is reportedly the largest tour vessel built in Hawaii in more than two decades, and the largest snorkel-cruise catamaran in the US. It can reach 20 knots fully loaded thanks to twin 600-hp Cummins diesel engines and Twin Disc gears. Electrical power comes from a 15-kW Northern Lights generator. Amenities include a glass-bottom viewing room, water slides and a jumping platform called "the leap of faith" on the third deck. There are 11 individual dive steps on the stern, each with its own handrail for safe and convenient entry into the water and exit. The lower dive step is lowered into the water for ease of access. The floor area totals 4,000 square feet of covered seating on four decks, with three bathrooms and two freshwater showers.

Argosy Cruises has been running tours of the Seattle Waterfront for more than 60 years. Its fleet has grown to eight tour boats holding from 35 to 350 passengers, operating on five different routes and making it the largest in the Pacific Northwest. The company's newest vessel is the 125-foot Salish Explorer<</i>/strong>, built by All American Marine, Inc. (AAM), in Bellingham, Washington and certified to carry 500 passengers under the latest US Coast Guard Subchapter-K regulations. It will carry guests from Pier 55 in downtown Seattle to Blake Island State Park, on the "Tillicum Excursion" – a Northwest Native American cultural experience, and also be adaptable to provide private event charters.

The shallow-draft push-tug Tanana is the second boat built by Fred Wahl in Reedsport, Oregon for Ruby Marine in Nenana, Alaska. Photo by Peter Marsh.

This aluminum monohull was designed by Teknicraft Design of New Zealand, who are also responsible for all the catamarans built by All American. Argosy's boats have mainly been steel in the past, and this is the first new-build of aluminum for the company, resulting a lightship weight of only 113 tons, which will increase fuel efficiency. It features panoramic windows on both decks, elevator accessibility, and fully-equipped service bars. Power for propulsion comes from twin Scania DI 16-080M Tier 3 engines and auxiliary power will be supplied via Northern Lights 65kW and 40 kW generators. Salish Explorer was launched in November and was the first vessel from the builder's new 57,000-square-foot shop. All American Marine has been in business for 30 years, and CEO Matt Mullett said that size of boat could not have been built in the company's previous facility.

Construction of the 128-foot M/V Enhydra for the Red and White Fleet of San Francisco is under way, for completion in the spring, All American officials said it will be the largest hybrid electrical passenger vessel of this type in the US, partially operating on Corvus Orca lithium-ion batteries made in British Columbia, and the BAE HybridDrive system. It will carry up to 600 passengers on tours around San Francisco Bay up to the Golden Gate Bridge.


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