VT Halter Marine has launched the ocean tug Q-Ocean Service at its Pascagoula, Mississippi, shipyard in preparation for the 2020 delivery of what will be the world’s first LNG bunker articulated tug barge (ATB) unit
Using a coupling system, Q-Ocean Service will be mated with Q-LNG 4000, a newly built ocean service LNG bunker barge previously launched by VT Halter Marine. With an overall length of 98.7 m, beam of 19.5 m and depth of 9.9 m, the barge has four 1,000-m3 IMO Type C cargo tanks for a total capacity of 4,000 m3.
Q-Ocean Service has an overall length of 39 m, beam of 12.8 m and depth of 6.4 m. Propulsion for the ATB tug is supplied by two EPA-compliant, Tier 4 GE 6L250 MDC main engines that produce a total of 5,100 hp and drive two Wärtsilä nozzled Z-drives via Wärtsilä shafting. The tug is fitted with Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum dynamic positioning, navigation, communications and automation.
Wärtsilä also supplied the barge’s LNG cargo storage, handling and control systems, plus a bow thruster, automation, power management and ballast water management systems.
The owner of the ATB vessel is Quality Liquefied Natural Gas Transport (Q-LNG), a joint venture of Shane Guidry, chairman of US-based Harvey Gulf International Marine (HGIM), who has a 70% stake in the company, and HGIM, which controls the remaining interest.
HGIM owns five US-flag LNG-fuelled platform supply vessels and an LNG bunkering station in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, where the vessels refuel.
VT Halter Marine president and chief executive Ronald Baczkowski told LNG World Shipping earlier that the construction of the ATB unit posed some challenges in applying the rules for gas carriers to a bunkering barge. “Q-LNG has laid the groundwork to develop the requirements for a bunkering barge by adapting the gas carrier and barge rules working with ABS and USCG,” said Mr Baczkowski.
Built to ABS class rules and compliance with the International Gas Carrier code, Q-LNG 4000 is designed to provide ship-to-ship transfers of LNG to vessels that burn LNG as fuel and also ship-to-shore transfers for small-scale LNG distribution infrastructure in the US Gulf of Mexico.
“During the detail design we worked with Q-LNG, ABS and USCG to clarify the rules further to ensure a compliant vessel that had equivalent levels of safety,” said Mr Baczkowski.
Q-LNG will operate the ATB under a long-term contract with Shell Trading (US) Company to deliver LNG as a fuel to various ports in Florida and southeast US.
Shell has chartered the 4,000-m3 ATB to bunker Carnival Cruise Line’s two new 180,000-gt dual-fuel ships and two dual-fuel Siem Car Carrier pure car truck carriers chartered by the Volkswagen Group to transport vehicles from Europe to North America.
Based at Port Canaveral in Florida, the Q-LNG LNG bunker ATB vessel will load LNG produced at the Elba Island LNG terminal in Savannah, Georgia.
When the LNG bunker ATB vessel is delivered in Q1 2020, VT Halter Marine will be the only shipyard in the US and one of a handful in the world that has built both LNG bunker vessels and LNG-fuelled vessels. Mr Baczkowski is confident that such experience will serve the shipyard well as shipping moves towards decarbonisation.
“Cleaner fuels like LNG will see growth as it becomes vital to meeting stricter regulations,” he said. Mr Baczkowski said: “LNG is seen as an enabler of a low-carbon future. The outlook for Jones Act-compliant LNG bunkering capacity for the US market is very positive. We are in talks with several operators for needed capacity in the coming years. We are well positioned to meet the future demands of the LNG bunkering markets.”