Interesting Launch for Interesting Tugs
19 June, 2018
The ownership of the Canadian firm Island Tug and Barge has changed with the purchase by the U.S. parent company Tidewater Inc. The firm is now known as Island Tug.
The second tug, with the hull and superstructure completed and with the Cummins K38s installed still requires more work, was also launched in early May of 2018.
The vessels were built in a warehouse on the Fraser River. With no launching facility and a railway track between the yard and the steep bank of the river, it took some innovative heavy lifting. At the yard, Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMTs) were moved under the tug. They then rolled it over wooden beams laid overtop the railway tracks and on onto the 12,000 dwt barge Dynamic Beast moored in the river.
The launch job was contracted to Mammoet and Dynamic Heavy Lift to Roll On and Lift Off (Ro-Lo) the tugs. Both tugs were loaded onto Dynamic’s 330 by 120-foot barge which has a 900 ton Manitowoc M-1200 Ringer crane mounted on a 60-foot diameter ring as well as a 230 Ton Manitowoc 4100 crawler crane. This delicate but massive Roll-On Lift-off operation was completed over the weekend and the barge, with the two tugs on deck, was towed down the river and around to the Port of Vancouver, B.C. ready for a Monday launch.
Lifting two 384-ton tugs, even with a 900 ton capacity crane is no casual task. The Dynamic Heavy Lift crew put in a long day’s work preparing and setting the heavy cable straps according to a meticulously drawn diagram and set of specifications. These included a series of three heavy spreader bars, each at right angles to the one above, supporting four double slings the extended under the 384 metric ton tug’s hull at precisely determined positions. This divided the weight evenly.
By midafternoon all was in place. A final safety check and procedural conference was called and about 20 men gathered in a circle to review roles and responsibilities. A detailed check list was run through and a designated signal man, Darin (Dawg) Ellis, was identified. He would talk to the crane operator, Bob Miller, who had been restlessly prowling his huge red machine checking and rechecking details while positioning the huge spreader bars for the crew.
After a couple of final adjustments the word went to the crane operator to take up all the slack and begin the lift. Finally light showed between the wooden blocks set on steel pillars and the huge tug was airborne. As had been planned the tug was lifted high enough to clear all equipment on the barge deck and finally over one end of the barge.
With crew members steadying the tug by lashing down heavy mooring lines the tug was steadied about 20 feet above the waters of Burrard Inlet and, with the crew that built her watching, she began a stately descent. The built crew, who had been given the day off to watch their masterpiece meet the water, took selfies and smart phone pictures of the tug as she touched the water. Then they jumped aboard before all the weight came off the slings to make sure that all was as it should be below decks.
Finally, after the all clear was given, the boat was lowered to her marks. It would be towed over to the owner’s dock where finally details of her completion were dealt with prior to sea trials. If there was relief from stress on the part of the Mammoet and Dynamic Heavy Lift crew they didn’t show it. With quiet professionalism they began getting the rigging ready for the lift of the second tug.