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Tug Technology & Business

New generation tugs ordered for US west coast ports

Mon 19 Nov 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

New generation tugs ordered for US west coast ports
Tractor tug Lindsey Foss assists ships on the west coast of North America

A new generation of tugs have been ordered for west coast US ports to meet stringent environmental requirements.

Foss Maritime confirmed it had switched strategies for building a new generation of tugs for its operations on the west coast when it contracted Nichols Brothers Boat Builders to construct four tugs.

This is a U-turn for the North American tug owner as it announced in 2017 its plan to build 10 tugs at its own shipyard to Damen design.

Instead Foss cancelled its agreement with Damen and closed its shipyard in Rainier on the Columbia River. Then Foss confirmed to Tug Technology & Business that it selected Jensen Maritime for design and Nichols Brothers to constuct the Z-Drive tractor tugs with 90 tonnes of bollard pull.

Four tugs will be built for ship handling duties within ports and harbours from Washington state to California. There are options for another six tractor tugs to be built at the shipyard for delivery after 2021.

Nichols Brothers intends to deliver the first of the initial four tugs in Q4 2020 and the fourth in Q4 2021. They will be built to US Coast Guard Subchapter M regulatory standards and with ABS loadline certification.

These tractor tugs will each be equipped with two MTU series 4000 main engines and meet Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 emission standards. They will also have a pair of Rolls-Royce US255 azimuth thrusters and Markey winches.

Jensen Maritime and ABS have collaborated on using a different approach to class approval of tug designs by using 3D modelling and computer-based assessment instead of 2D drawings.

BRL Shipping Consultants said more powerful tugs are required on the US west coast because of the larger ships entering these ports. "American owners are ordering tonnage to cope with bigger container ships engaged in transpacific trading," the consultants said. "There was a boom prior to the imposition of higher tariffs by the US. The other factor driving trade is bigger ships transiting the Panama Canal." 

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