Foss to Build First-In-Class Arctic Tugs

Mike Schuler
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August 28, 2012

Tug construction at Foss’ Rainier Shipyard. Photo: Foss Maritime

Foss Maritime on Tuesday announced plans to build the first three vessels of its new Arctic Class of tugs as the company responds to growing demand and new opportunities in the oil and gas industry.

“At Foss we innovate,” said Gary Faber, Foss’ President and Chief Operating Officer. “These vessels will be built using the latest advances in technology and equipment. We want to increase efficiency, improve safety and performance, and reduce environmental impact. These concerns are paramount to our customers, our stakeholders and our crews involved in offshore drilling and other project work in extreme environments.”

Faber said the new tugs have been designed to withstand harsh environment Arctic operations and position Foss to compete for global opportunities in the quickly evolving oil and gas industry. Currently, Foss has five assets committed to Shell’s arctic offshore exploration program in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and looks towards providing additional assets in the Arctic in the future.

“Foss has worked Alaskan Arctic waters for decades with a well-known record for our focus on, and innovation in, environmental protection with the highest of safety standards,” Faber said. “We have unique skills when it comes to the transportation of infrastructure needed for Arctic oil and gas exploration in to areas with little or no infrastructure. The new tugs will enhance our ability to move cargoes safely.”

Construction on the first tug in the Arctic Class starts in early 2013 at Foss’ Rainier, Oregon shipyard, work which will bring additional jobs to the growing Columbia River facility. Faber added that additional ABS classed tugs and support vessels are already under consideration.

Mike Magill, Vice President of Technical Services, who oversees Foss’ two shipyards and the company’s engineering department, said the three new tugs will be designed to achieve in excess of 100 metric tons of bollard pull, a measure of pulling power. The vessels will be used primarily to tow barges with oil field modules, rig topsides and project cargoes throughout the world.

Glosten Associates, who is Foss’ naval architecture partner on the project, expects the design phase to be completed by year’s end. Machinery on the new tugs will include Caterpillar C280-8 main engines, which comply with the highest federal environmental standards; and Reintjes reduction gears. Markey Machinery will supply the tow winch.

General arrangement of Foss’ Arctic Class of tugs. Image: Foss Maritime

The decision to build the three ocean-going tugs will have a ripple effect throughout Foss, Magill said. The vessels will be built at the company’s Rainier, OR, shipyard Foss has already announced that the facility, which specializes in new vessel construction, will expand by an additional 10,000 square feet, and will require additional staff. These highly anticipated vessels signify a continuing commitment to Foss growth and expansion into new and exciting markets.

“This is a win-win for us,” Magill said. “We have a fine workforce in place at Rainier and we’re very excited to be able to expand Fosses’ fleet in ways that grow our business.”

Specifically, the new tugs will meet:

  • American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) A1 requirements, including standards for hulls, machinery, towing, anchors and cable;
  • American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Ice Class requirements
  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requirements, including an on-board rescue boat and davit; and
  • Green Passport, which requires an inventory of shipboard hazardous materials that make decommissioning of vessels far safer.

In addition to the low-emission Caterpillar engines, the vessels will incorporate several environmentally focused designs and structural and technological upgrades, including:

  • Elimination of ballast tanks, so there is no chance of transporting invasive species;
  • Holding tanks for black and gray water to permit operations in nodischarge zones (such as parts of Alaska and California);
  • Hydraulic oil systems compatible with biodegradable oil;
  • Energy efficient LED lighting; and
  • High-energy absorption Schuyler fendering.
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