I was on the outskirts of Istanbul this past weekend at the epicenter of Turkey’s bustling shipbuilding industry where the naming ceremony of the world’s first LNG-powered tugboat took place.

Built by Sanmar Shipyard for Norwegian tug owner Buksèr og Berging, the DNV-classed M/T Borgøy and her sister vessel M/T Bokn are the product of two years of collaborative engineering work by Buksèr og Berging, Marine Design AS as well as engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

Borgøy lng powered tug Buksér og Berging sanmar

Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

Following sea trials next month, the Borgøy will sail on her own bottom from Turkey to Kaarstoe gas terminal in Norway to begin her long term operational contract for Statoil.

Vessel particulars:

  • LOA: 35 meters
  • Beam: 15.4 meters
  • Draft: 7.5 meters
  • DNV-class, 1A1, EO, Gas-fuelled, Oilrec, FiFi 1, Escort (100, 10).
  • Enhanced escort capacity of 100 tons with 130 ton winch.
  • Speed: 13.5 knots
  • Accommodations: 6 persons
Borgøy lng powered tug Buksér og Berging sanmar

Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

Borgøy lng powered tug Buksér og Berging sanmar

Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

Straddling the 130 ton bow-mounted winch are the ventilation stacks for the 80 cubic meter cryogenic fuel tank, enough fuel to last up to 5 or 6 days at 10 knots of speed.

Borgøy lng powered tug Buksér og Berging rolls-royce gas engine

Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

Powered by Rolls-Royce Bergen C26:33L6PG spark-ignited gas engines, these new tugs will emit nearly 30 percent less CO2 and up to 90 percent less NOx than conventionally-powered tugs. At 1,000 RPM, these engines will deliver a combined output of 3410kW to a pair of azimuthing thrusters.

“Gas is gaining in popularity as a maritime fuel,” commented Neil Gilliver, Rolls-Royce, President Merchant. “Its environmental credentials, combined with lower costs are seeing many operators select it over traditional fuels, across a range of ship types.

“Most of the world’s tug fleets operate close to shore, where emissions regulations are most stringent. As LNG becomes more widely available, I have no doubt that many major ports will soon opt for this clean, lower cost and smoke-free fuel to power their tugs.”

Auxiliary electrical power is provided by diesel powered generators.

Borgøy lng powered tug Buksér og Berging sanmar rolls-royce

Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

The propulsion package includes two of the latest Rolls-Royce US35, 3000 mm ducted azimuth thrusters with controllable pitch. Over the past few years, Rolls-Royce has supplied 50 sets of thrusters to Sanmar.

Borgøy lng powered tug Buksér og Berging sanmar rolls-royce thruster

Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

To perform vessel escort assistance off Norway, these tugs are designed with a huge foil-shaped keel running 75 percent of the length of the vessel aft from the bow. Although the tugs are rated for 65 tons of bollard pull, they can use the shape of their hull to exert upwards of a 100 tons of steering pull at 10 knots.  To accomplish this, the thrusters are used to put the vessel at an angle to the forward direction of the escorted ship which is secured to the tug via a bow line.  The resistance created by the tug’s foil-shaped hull then acts essentially like an external rudder to help compliment the steering of the assisted vessel.

Buksèr og Berging, which just this week celebrated its 100th birthday, notes that roughly 1500 escorts are performed every year in Norway effectively reducing the risk of ship groundings by approximately 75 percent.

Borgøy lng powered tug Buksér og Berging sanmar

Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain


Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

Sanmar Shipyard was established in 1976 and is the first privately-held tugboat builder and operator in Turkey with ownership of 18 vessels operating in 7 different ports.

The yard is extremely prolific delivering approximately one new tug every four weeks. 22 tugs are currently on order representing approximately 18 months of backlog.

Sanmar has 72 employees and has an additional 269 subcontractors at the yard on any given day.


Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

Next door to Sanmar is an endless horizon of gantry cranes and ships in all states of repair, or disrepair.


Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

The following is a satellite image of this area:

View Larger Map


Image (c) Rob Almeida/gCaptain

Update – February 2014: MT Borgøy fueling up at port of Zeebrugge

Photo courtesy port of Zeebrugge

Photo courtesy port of Zeebrugge

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    • http://www.gcaptain.com Mario Vittone

      Colin – I don’t think there has been a death in LNG operations in 52 years. That has at least as much to do with the industry’s safety management as it does with anything else. Either way, I think your fears are unfounded.

      “I cannot begin to contemplate anything more dangerous!”

      That must be what they said about the diesel.

  • jellydonut

    If it was compressed gas I would be right there with you.

    However, this is LNG. It is an extremely inert fuel. Go to Youtube and search for ‘LNG safety’ where LNG leaks and attempts to ignite it are demonstrated.

    The post-gasification fuel supply system is always double-piped with gas sensors in the outer pipe, so that any leak is detected. Even if these sensors were to fail, the air/fuel ratio where methane ignites is extremely narrow, compared to for instance gasoline.

    In addition, even if the air/fuel ratio in a space where a leak was occurring reached the threshold (and did not go past it again into a rich non-ignitable mix), methane is 120 octane and very hard to ignite without a specific high-heat source like a spark plug.

    I may only have a class 4 certificate of competency, and maybe I’m naive, but I have no compunctions about these vessels.

  • DaveO-Alaska

    I thought both Foss and others on the US west coast were building LNG or CNG tugs, mainly for harbor work, but one of which (if actually built) was going to be put into proposed ocean service. This plan was from 2 or 3 years ago.
    Norway has wisely led the way switching their coastal and OSV oilfield fleet to natural gas.I’ve been advocating for the state of Alaska to get with it for fuel savings and cleaner air.

  • capt mehmet ozyabaslıgil

    Good days for every one
    Congratulation to SANMAR Ltd to built new perform vessel escort assistance TUG.Builder and design will serve as a support to the sector.
    Mehmet Ozyabasligil MCI
    Marine Salvage Master and Arbitration Expert

    TAC Law firm/Maritime and Admiralty Bureau

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