New Escort Tugs for Dedicated LNG Operations


  • Port export terminals are employing LNG tugs to assist in LNG carrier maneuvering.
  • UK  has taken the assistance of Svitzer Meridian’s ATD tug
  • SAAM Smit Towage (SST) is using a 32-m Turkish tug in the export facility of British Columbia, Canada from Q2 2019.
  • Smit Lamnalco has ordered four 70-tonne bollard pull tugs for the Bahrain export terminal.
  • Svitzer’s tugs are already operational in many European ports since November 2018

LNG operations have become the norm of the day as we are heading for the IMO 2020 deadline. In a situation like this, further developments are needed to assist LNG ships. A new tug dedicated for LNG operations in UK is exactly what’s needed.

Svitzer Meridian is an ATD tug, escorting LNG carriers to the Grain terminal in UK, writes Martyn Wingrove for LNG World Shipping.

Why is it necessary?

New tugs, adapted for the specific requirements of LNG carrier maneuvering in export and import terminals, are starting to find favor among owners

Details of the tug

SAAM Smit Towage (SST) is expecting to take delivery of a new LNG terminal tug from Turkish shipyard Uzmar Shipbuilding in Q1 2019; the tug having been launched from the shipyard on 15 November 2018.

This escort tug has been built to a Robert Allan RAstar 3200-W design and has IMO Tier III propulsion. The 32-m tug will be employed from Q2 2019 for escorting and berthing LNG carriers at an export facility in British Columbia, Canada.

How will the tug help?

Uzmar assistant general manager Mutlu Altuğ said that this tug was designed with the specific requirements of escorting LNG carriers in mind. “It is an LNG-proof tug for a Canadian LNG terminal [and] will have around 80 tonnes of bollard pull and Cleanship and Green Passport notations from Bureau Veritas,” he explained.

Robert Allan optimised the RAstar hull and deep skeg of this tug to generate high indirect escort forces, while also ensuring it can provide towing operations from the stern.

For safety at the LNG export terminal, this tug incorporates a gas detection system, explosion-proof deck equipment, off-ship FiFi1 fire-fighting capabilities and a winch for emergency towage.

Other LNG Operation Assistance

Elsewhere, Smit Lamnalco will order new tugs to support operations in Bahrain, after securing a contract in the middle of 2018 covering marine services on the nation’s LNG import terminal. It will be providing escort and towage services at a floating LNG import terminal for 20 years.

The centerpiece of this contract involves four 70-tonne bollard pull tugs that will assist with the escorting, berthing and departure of LNG carriers at this facility. Commercial operations are scheduled to begin in 2019 at the Bahrain LNG import terminal, which will use a floating storage unit and a jetty-mounted regasification facility located offshore 5 km east of Khalifa Bin Salman Port.

As part of its overall package, Smit Lamnalco will initially employ four escort tugs from its existing LNG terminal support fleet. However, in the fifth year of the contract, these vessels will be replaced by four new purpose-built tugs for the remaining 15 years.

Safety of LNG terminal

“For safety at LNG export terminal, the tug incorporates a gas detection system, explosion-proof deck equipment, off-ship FiFi1 fire-fighting capabilities and a winch for emergency towage”

Smit Lamnalco has further employment opportunities for its tugs in Australia, having secured a towage license renewal at a growing LNG export port. Gladstone Ports Corp awarded the license to Smit Lamnalco in December 2018, following a competitive tender process. This should keep a fleet of 11 tugs in employment at the Queensland, Australia, port for at least another five years.

Their employment could be continued to the end of 2026 as there is an option to extend this license for a further three years. Port of Gladstone is a large, multi-commodity port with a significant LNG plant and export terminal. Smit Lamnalco has provided harbor towage services at this port since 2011.

LNG Operations in Europe

New tugs have also been ordered by Svitzer to support operations around European LNG terminals in 2018. The most recent to join the Svitzer Europe fleet, Svitzer Meridian, has been deployed in southeast England to support ships using the Thames and Medway rivers. Part of this deployment involves escorting LNG carriers into the Grain LNG terminal on the river Medway.

Why Svitzer is important?

Svitzer Meridian became one of the most powerful tugs operating at the terminal when it joined Svitzer’s fleet in November 2018. It is a UK-flagged, azimuth tractor drive (ATD) tug with 71.5 tonnes of bollard pull and combined engine power of 4,200 kW. This gives this tug a maximum speed of 12.5 knots ahead and 12 knots astern, as proven during sea trials.

Svitzer Meridian was constructed at Sanmar’s shipyard in Turkey as part of a two-vessel Delicay series. It was built to an adapted Robert Allan TRAktor 2500-SX design and to ABS class requirements for towing and FiFi1 operations. This design has a raised half foc’sle above the waterline for seakeeping in exposed waters and a hullform optimised for manoeuvrability, fuel efficiency and roll dampening.

How does Svitzer help?

Svitzer Meridian also has StRAke stabilisers on the stern of the hull. These were developed by Voith and Robert Allan to improve tractor tug directional stability. Inside the engineroom, Svitzer Meridian has two Caterpillar 3516C HD main engines that drive two Rolls-Royce US 255 FP Z-drive units.

On the aft working deck there is a DMT type TW-021-E electric, double-drum towing winch that has a force of 250 kN at a low speed of 9 m/min, or 80 kN at a high speed of 28 m/min. It also has a brake-holding load of 190 tonnes.

Svitzer Meridian particulars

Owner: Svitzer Europe

Shipbuilder: Sanmar

Designer: Robert Allan

Design: TRAktor 2500-SX

Operating port: London, UK

Bollard pull: 71.5 tonnes

Length, oa: 25.3 m

Beam, moulded: 12 m

Hull depth, moulded: 4.55 m

Draught: 5.74 m

Gross: 339 gt

Classification: ABS

Main Engines: 2 x CAT 3516C

Propulsion: 2 x US255 FP Z-drives

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Source: LNG World Shipping


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