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Svitzer announces tugboats contract

LNG Industry,

Under a marine services contract valued at approximately US$ 650 million, Svitzer Australia, a towage, salvage and emergency response specialist, has announced that it will provide tugboats and a pilot boat to assist export shipments from Chevron’s Wheatstone LNG Terminal. Svitzer anticipates that the agreement will create more than 30 Australian jobs, among which will be positions for a number of Aboriginal trainees.

The company, which forms part of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, will supply four 33 m, 80 t bollard-pull tugs to help exporting vessels during the operational phase of the project at Ashburton North, in Western Australia.

Crewed by Australian mariners, the Azimuth Stern Drive vessels will use diesel electric engines to provide efficient, safe and environmentally friendly towage and escort capabilities for a period of at least 20 years from 2016.

Svitzer, will also supply a 17.6 m self-righting pilot boat that will be built by Hart Marine on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.


Svitzer Australia’s Managing Director, Mark Malone said: “Similar to our existing LNG activities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, our number one priority while assisting carriers calling at Ashburton North will be protecting people, local waters and high-value marine assets”.

He continued: “As one of the largest maritime employers in Australia, we will draw on a wealth of knowledge from within our existing business to ensure locally employed crews are recruited and trained to operate these high-tech tugs. We are also committed to ongoing training and development and operate an employment and training programme for local indigenous people interested in obtaining marine qualifications.”

The tugs

Diesel electric propulsion systems in the Ashburton tugs will ensure 15 - 20% more fuel efficiency than conventional tugs. The tugs have the following eco-friendly features:

  • Non-hydraulic deck equipment to ensure no oil or liquid spillage (the equipment will be electric).
  • Surfaces finished in a low-sheen paint to reduce water reflection.
  • Low-spilling sodium deck lights to reduce water penetration and disturbance during night operations.
  • Double-walled fuel tanks to prevent leakage.
  • Solar panels for water heating.
  • Water recycling plant for onboard usage.

The tugs were designed with a variety of safety features for LNG terminal operations:

  • Double hulls.
  • LNG alarms, remote closing fire flaps and pressurised accommodation.
  • Dynamic escort winch with the capability to release the line under full towing conditions, minimising slack rope events and shock loads even in extreme weather conditions.
  • Side pocket ladder systems and wide opening bulwark doors on both sides to assist in MOB recovery.
  • Capability for pilot transfer through a specially designed pilot-boarding platform.

Malone said: “We will expand existing relationships with local suppliers to ensure further benefits flow from the project”. He also stressed that Svitzer’s priorities were both protecting the environment and creating new opportunities for Australian industries.

The company will soon enter into a construction partnership and select a shipyard where the tugs will be built.


Adapted from press release by Ted Monroe

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