Friday, August 30, 2013

Super Tugs Offer the Sight of Glamorous but Dangerous Ocean Logistics

From Sinking Container Ships to Floating LNG Terminals the Workhorses of the Seas are On Call
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – AFRICA – UAE – Unfortunately recent disasters such as the tragic sinking of the container vessel MOL Comfort have produced a lot of work for the fleets of ‘super tugs’ which are needed to deal with many such catastrophes. Fortunately most of the work these craft undertake do not grab the headlines to the same extent, but that does not mean they are not equally, if not more dangerous as they pull their huge cargoes vast distances demonstrating the glamorous, yet hazardous, face of heavy duty logistics.

Rotterdam based ocean towage and heavy lift transportation outfit, Fairmount Marine, has been putting its own fleet of five modern tugs to good use of late. Recently the Fairmount Sherpa, like her sister ships especially designed for long distance towing, towed an accommodation barge from Romania to a location off the shores of Porto Amboim, Angola after receiving the contract from the owners logistics team.

The Ayang 2 is an accommodation and work barge owned by the offshore division of Korean group Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The 115 metre long and 32 metre wide barge, which can accommodate over 350 people, had undergone an upgrading at DSME’s Romanian shipyard in Mangalia, located at the Black Sea coast. The Fairmount vessel covered the 6,100 miles within 30 days at an average speed of 8.5 knots.

Meanwhile two other Fairmount vessels, the tugs Fairmount Summit and Fairmount Alpine have delivered the very first floating ‘gas plant’ in the world, the FSRU Toscana, safely offshore of Livorno, Italy. The Toscana, a one of a kind unit, was towed from Dubai via Malta where final equipment was installed. After delivering the Toscana, both Fairmount tugs assisted in mooring the unit to her six pre-installed anchors.

The Toscana is a floating, storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) which is now moored 12 miles off Livorno and will be used as a terminal and export point for liquefied natural gas (LNG). The unit is the converted 288 metre long LNG tanker Golar Frost, originally constructed in 2004. The conversion works took place at Drydock World in Dubai for contractor Saipem and client OLT Offshore LNG Toscana SpA. When fully operational the unit has a re-gasification capacity of 3.75 billion cubic metres a year (11 million cubic metres a day) and a storage capacity of 137,500 cubic metres of LNG.

For the towage of FSRU Toscana Fairmount Marine mobilised its two tugs for Dubai where, after hooking-up, the convoy set sail for Malta. In Malta the Toscana had a stopover for final outfitting, and upon completion of this both tugs towed Toscana to her final location off the coast near Livorno and assisted in her mooring. Saipem management praised the Fairmount team’s performance saying that, ‘[the] execution of the complex operations demonstrated sound engineering methodology, good preparations, strong teamwork and 110% commitment.’ Mr. Albert de Heer, CEO of Fairmount, said the project had been truly unique, praised the professionalism of his staff and expressed the hope that this contract was merely the first of many.

Photo: The Ayang 2 on tow behind the Fairmount Sherpa.