Rolls-Royce is to supply propulsion and deck equipment for a major order awarded by Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) to Damen Shipyards for 13 tugs to service contracts in Texas and Valdez.
ECO has signed a contract to provide escort and ship-assist towage at a new LNG export terminal under construction at Corpus Christi and four 80tbp Damen ASD 3212 tugs have been ordered to service the contract.
ECO has also won a high profile, long-term contract to provide ship escort and response services at Valdez, Prince William Sound, effective from July 2018 involving nine tugs. Four 70tbp ASD 3212 models will form part of the fleet but the eye-catching part of the order is for what Damen describes as ‘five of the most powerful ASD tugs ever built’, the ASD 4517 with a bollard pull of 150+ tonnes. This joint Damen/ECO developed escort tug is specifically designed for often-challenging weather conditions in Prince William Sound.
Rolls-Royce’s contribution to all 13 vessels, to be built at Chouest-affiliated shipyards in the US is worth €38m and includes large azimuth thrusters and winches. Eight of the vessels will be equipped with two US 255 fixed-pitch thrusters, the remaining five with US 60 controllable-pitch propellers.
They will have Rolls-Royce towing and auxiliary winches, all based on low-pressure hydraulics. Winches on the five large Damen ASD 4517 tugs will have dynamic towing capability in the full bollard pull range rather than towing on the static brake, Rolls-Royce stating: ‘the dynamic towing capability of the low-pressure hydraulic reduces risk during a towing operation, and reduces wear and tear on tow gear.’
In the first three months of Damen opening its new area support office in Houston, orders have been signed for 27 tugs at four different US shipyards and commenting on the news Jan van Hogerwou, General Manager New Construction Damen Area Support North America said: ‘Within just three months Damen has won orders for the construction of 27 tugs at four different US Shipyards, and we have only just begun!’
Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce President Marine said: "We are looking forward to once again working with Edison Chouest Offshore on this project to deliver our proven technology to its new fleet of highly capable tugs. This contract underlines our capability to supply mission critical equipment to customers undertaking demanding towing operations, where safety at sea, high power and responsive manoeuvrability are all essential factors."
While tug construction in North America was for many years based on tried and trusted conventional designs, the likes of ASD and tractor tugs from US and Canadian designers are now making inroads into the market and it will be interesting to see how far ‘overseas’ designs from for instance Damen influence the scene into the future.