M/V Montana is the third in a series of three turn-key ready vessels, with the best-available equipment from engine room to galley, to set new standards for safety, efficiency and comfort in coastal and ocean towing.
Eighteen months after delivering the first 120-foot ocean-going tug to Hyak Maritime in August 2013, the JT Marine shipyard in Vancouver, Washington handed over the third vessel in this series, the M/V Montana, in January 2015. The co-owners of all three vessels are two veteran long-haul tug captains, Robert Dorn and Gordon Smith, who saw the need for a modern offshore tug design to replace the hundreds of older, outdated boats still in service. They envisaged a vessel that was turn-key ready, with the best-available equipment from engine room to galley, to set new standards for safety, efficiency and comfort in coastal and ocean towing.
The foundation of this project is the basic Titan-class hull shape developed by Jensen Maritime naval architects in collaboration with Bob and Ric Shrewsbury, owners of Western Towboat of Seattle. With a single chine, 35-foot beam and 19-foot draft, Western’s fleet of seven Titans has been proven in more than a decade of tough service in all weather across the Gulf of Alaska. On arrival, in remote ports, the two Schottel ASD units give the tugs the ability to dock the barges unaided.
All three Hyak boats were built to ABS + A1, AMS Machinery Class, Towing Certification All Oceans, with the Marpol compliance necessary to work in international ports. The tug’s compact size results in a US regulatory tonnage of only 91 and international tonnage of 497, allowing them to operate with smaller crews than the traditional type of offshore tug that is typically above 500 tons.
This enabled Crowley Maritime to charter the first two boats, Hawaii and Washington, for its ocean towing fleet and quickly put them to work towing two barges with an oil platform and associated equipment from the Gulf coast to Gabon in west Africa. They continue to haul cargoes for construction and drilling projects, and perform dead-ship tows, where their ship-docking ability also proves valuable.
Proven Titan Hull Matched with GE Engines
The most notable difference between the Hyak and Western boats is in the choice of main engine: all of Western’s big tugs are powered by a high-speed V-16 diesel, Hyak chose the medium-speed four-stroke GE 8L250, a heavyweight 8-cylinder inline that weighs almost 20 tons and stands 11 feet tall. The engines were supplied by Hatton Marine of Seattle, who report that GE is gaining in popularity for continuous-service applications like long-haul tugs, ATBs and ferries because of its durability and simple in-cylinder Tier 4 emission-control system using exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR).
Hatton’s Ingi Huswick reports that there are about 100 GE engines in US tugs, with Crescent Towing of New Orleans operating 17, increasing to 21 on the launching of a pair of 92-foot ASD tugs designed by Jensen under construction at Steiner Shipyard in Alabama. GE is also the sole supplier of tug engines to the Panama Canal Authority, who have a total of 58 in service.
Bob Dorn’s first hands-on experience with GE engines came in the early 1990’s on the 143-foot Tatnuck, an ex-Navy ATA tug built in 1945. The boat was re-built by Marine Power 50 years later with a 4,000-HP V-16 GE engine – originally designed to power locomotives. That engine’s superior durability and low fuel and oil consumption became the standard by which Dorn has judged boats ever since. From the outset, he was confident that the medium-speed engines would give the Hyak class a strong selling point: “I budgeted an average of $350,000 a year in maintenance and repairs on a 5,000-HP tug during my days at Sea Coast and Sirius, towing ocean tank barges,” he told me.
Dorn also had previous experience with JT Marine, who had performed running repairs and bottom work on Sea Coast vessels that hauled barges into the Columbia River. The yard is owned and operated by the Toristoja family and has been in business for almost a decade in the Vancouver Industrial Park. Waino Toristoja, vice president of marine equipment, told me “We are seeing increasing interest from long-haul operators in new vessels like the Hyak class, but nothing has been signed yet.”
JT fitted the Montana with GE’s Tier III version with improved turbochargers and exhaust systems, and the same power output as the Tier II version on the two earlier boats – 1,998 kw (2,679 hp) at 900 rpm. They are coupled to the pair of Schottel 1515 FP ASDs turning 102-inch (2,600-mm) diameter stainless steel propellers via Centa flexible connectors and carbonfiber shafts. Two John Deere 6081A Kohler gensets each provide 195 kW of electrical service; each genset is also plumbed to provide full hydraulic power to the winches. The fire-control system is by Fireboy.
According to Dorn, the engines have already demonstrated the fuel efficiency of a 4,000-horsepower boat with the power of a 6,000-horsepower vessel, saving more than 800 gallons of fuel and 30 gallons of lube oil daily over a typical tug. The fuel capacity is 158,000 gallons. “I am confident these engines won’t need to be overhauled for 40,000 hours, or about 7 years service,” he predicted. The first boat was measured with 82.5 tons of bollard pull and 14.5 knots free running speed.
Hyak’s Turn-Key Package
I returned to Vancouver in January 2015 to inspect the third boat after it was trailered onto JT’s own 1,200-ton drydock and floated off. I hoped to learn how this unusual approach of building on-spec is working for Dorn and Smith, who had estimated there were 300 older offshore tugs in the US in the 4,000-6,000 hp category that were ready for retirement. Those boats will have to be replaced in the next few years and Hyak can certainly claim to have the best readily-available solution on the market.
“With this design, we really have the boat I have wanted to own and operate for the last 20 years towing around the Pacific,” Dorn explained to me as he filled the tanks from a tanker truck for the maiden trip to Seattle. That was where he hoped to gain more visibility for the boat and secure a third longterm charter.
The tug is set up for both towing and pushing modes. The winches are both fully visible and controlled by the helmsman. The head winch is a JonRie Series 200 with a capacity of 450 feet of 60 mm (7-inch) plasma line, a line pull of 5 Tons, a line speed of 20 M/m and a brake with capacity of 200 Tons with an independent capstan. The winch features JonRie’s Joystick feather speed control, Auto Render Block and fail-safe brakes.
The only notable change on the third tug was to install a Markey TESD- 34 towing winch specially designed to handle the pull this powerful vessel can develop in open water. The new Markey TESD-34 100-HP Double Drum electric towing winch is rated for 2,500 feet of 2 1/4-inch wire rope on each drum, and features a line-pull of up to 183,000 lbs. and a drum brake capacity of 293,000 lbs. A levelwind is also included for the starboard side drum. The TESD-34’s load shedding feature allows the generator switchboard to communicate with the winch’s Variable Frequency Drive to reduce power to 50 percent if the generator becomes overloaded. All electrical components comply with ABS, USCG, and IEEE-45 standards.
“We are very pleased that our good friends at Hyak Maritime have selected a Markey winch for the third tug in their fleet, and we’re sure its strength and reliability will serve them well for years to come,” said Blaine Dempke, President of Markey Machinery. The retractable tow pins were supplied by Colville Tractor Co. The fenders are from Schuyler Rubber of Woodinville, Washington – double loop on the upper bow and solid around the lower bow and stern. Rigidly-fastened aircraft tires protect the topsides.
The aluminum pilothouse was prefabricated by Hi-Tech Metal Fab. Inc. In Vancouver. It is 12 feet wide and has good all-round visibility with a typical narrow ASD layout and throttle/steering controls to port and starboard. Koden supplied dual IMO radars, the gyro-compass and auto-pilot are by Simrad. The integrated nav system is a Furuno 0735-13 and the radios are ICOM. The extra width of the house permits a full-size chart table and pair of comfortable seats outboard facing forward for anyone visiting the helmsman. The doors, windows and ports were sourced from Germany.
Interior Comfort Built-In
Another important feature that is gaining in importance is increased comfort for better rest, safer operation, and to retain crew. All the Hyak cabins are acoustically dampened and fireproofed to the highest international crew comfort and safety standards by a double layer of mineral wool, striplock and tiles from Norax and Danacoustic. Detail engineering was by Tulio Celano at Crescere Marine Engineering of Columbia City, Oregon. Hockema & Whalen of Seattle designed the electrical system to handle loads ranging from the wi-fi in the crew spaces to the 100-HP electric winch motors. The Daikin HVAC system is controllable in each cabin or crew space where all lighting is by LED. Harris Electric built the switch boards.
The house and fo’c’sle are fitted with top-of-the-line appliances and fittings to ensure crew comfort, fresh water tankage is 11,000 gallons. The living quarters can sleep eight in four crew cabins below the main deck, with the mate’s and master’s staterooms on the deck level, along with the spacious mess and galley, which is equipped with restaurantgrade equipment like the large Cospolich reefer and freezer, Lang stove, and Insinger dishwasher. There is enough space on the main deck floor plan for the Simrad gyro-compass and the Dynex 1,000 psi hydraulic power pack to have their own cabin-sized compartments.