The Port of Milford Haven has experienced a surge of activity with not only the usual tanker and other commercial traffic, but also the start of operations at both of the new Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) terminals.
The Port of Milford Haven, Britain"s sixth largest port, has experienced a surge of activity over the past few months with not only the usual tanker and other commercial traffic, but also the start of operations at both of the new Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) terminals.
Significantly, that additional activity coincided with a report showing that 2008 was the busiest 12 months in the 50 year history of the port - a record 52.8 million tons of shipping. A predicted gradual increase in LNG traffic can only enhance the figures for the present period.
The new import and re-gasification facilities of Dragon LNG and South Hook LNG between them have a capacity to supply up to 25% of the UK's gas requirement. The South Hook terminal alone is set to become the largest of its type in Europe.
Provision of efficient towage, escort and marine services, capable of serving the new LNG terminals operated by South Hook LNG at Milford and Dragon LNG upriver at Waterston, in addition to the existing oil berths, was an important feature of the planning process. After a lengthy and complex tendering process the multinational towage operator Svitzer was contracted to put together a tug fleet to serve all of the oil and gas traffic frequenting the port. That fleet is now virtually complete and is one of the largest and most modern tug fleets in the world.
Nine brand new tugs and six line handling boats were ordered specifically for the new fleet which is now based at new facilities at Pembroke Dock. Six of the tugs are high performance terminal/escort tugs of the unique Robert Allan Ltd RAstar Class built by Freire Construcciones Navales of Vigo, Spain. The order placed with Freire comprised six vessels built to two distinct RAstar designs, five 34m RAstar 3400 Class and one 39m RAstar 3900. Of the RAstar 3400, three have General Electric main engines, Schottel propulsion units, and a minimum bollard pull of 92 tonnes and the remaining pair have Niigata engines, Z-Peller propulsion units, and a minimum bollard pull of 80 tonnes. The most powerful vessel is the 39m tug Svitzer Kilroom which has the same basic General Electric/Schottel machinery but rated to achieve a bollard pull of at least 112 tonnes.
An account of the first vessels delivered, the two 92 tonnes bollard pull vessels Svitzer Lindway and Svitzer Waterston, was included in the January issue of Maritime Journal. During the intervening period the remaining RAstars have been delivered. A recent visit to the fleet provided an interesting insight into the remainder of the six tug batch and current operations at the new LNG terminals.
To briefly recap on the major features embodied in the sextuplets; all five RAstar 3400 tugs have an overall length of 34m, a moulded beam of 14.50m and a maximum operating draft of 6.55m. The tugs have a raised foredeck and a very large, clear, afterdeck and excellent fendering, particularly on the bow and forward shoulders where protection is required during push-pull operations.