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Offshore Support Journal

Offshore Support Journal

KotugSmit completes key Dutch towage projects

Mon 10 Jul 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

KotugSmit completes key Dutch towage projects
KotugSmit tugs assisted with the float-off of Western Isles FPSO from the transport ship

KotugSmit has completed several towage projects this year, towing oil production units and heavy-lift cranes around Rotterdam

KotugSmit Towage participated in specialised towage projects including towing a large floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit to the Keppel Verolme drydock in Rotterdam.

Several of its tugs assisted in the delivery of the Western Isles cylindrical FPSO to the shipyard for outfitting and commissioning work. This vessel had been transported from a Cosco construction centre in China to the Netherlands.

Once it has been fully-fitted, the FPSO will be transferred to the northern sector of the UK side of the North Sea for the Western Isles oil and gas project.

KotugSmit assisted the float-off process from the heavy-lift transport ship and the FPSO transport from the Caland Canal to the shipyard. Its tugs also supported the drydocking process at the Verolme yard. A Kotug Smit tow master was responsible for the co-ordination between the tugs during this project.

Prior to the start of operations, pre-meetings were held between representatives of the owners of the FPSO, Cosco, Rotterdam pilots, the dock master and port captain. All aspects of the float-off, transit to the yard and docking operations were discussed and planned.

This provided an overview of the required preparations, the actual operation and outlined responsibilities, communications and operation restrictions. KotugSmit said that one of the restrictions was the weather conditions. Due to the critical nature of the operations weather forecasts were required for evaluating the predicted conditions.

In the first quarter of this year, KotugSmit completed four docking and towage projects in Rotterdam involving Heerema’s semi-submersible crane units Hermod and Thialf, pipeline laying vessel Saipem 7000 and naval ship HMS Johan de Wit.

These special towage projects followed a similar process to the manoeuvre of Saipem 7000. On that project, the huge crane and pipelay ship was docked and undocked at Keppel Verolme shipyard.

“The limited room in the dock meant that the tugboats needed to carefully co-ordinate their towing power, leading to a smooth and harmonious interaction”

KotugSmit said a project team was created, including the dockmaster, pilots, linesmen and the first mate and there were meetings with the shipyard before the towage commenced. There was also a final toolbox meeting, so that the crew members all knew exactly what was expected of them. “The limited room in the dock meant that the tugboats needed to carefully co-ordinate their towing power, leading to a smooth and harmonious interaction,” KotugSmit said.

The planning took in factors such as tidal movements, wind restrictions and the type of vessel or object to be manoeuvred. “In the case of Saipem 7000, the biggest challenge was the available room at the drydock, which was 0.5m to spare at both ends, and only 0.3m under water,” KotugSmit said.

The bollard pull was determined in consultation with the pilot and tugs were arranged.

Six tugboats were deployed for Saipem 7000 docking process. The tugs that escorted the vessel alongside were hooked-up to the fore and aft. These side tugs were disconnected at the dock edge.

In March, KotugSmit assisted polar-class module carrier, Audax, with LNG modules for the Yamal LNG project in Russia. Rotortugs Smit Emoe and RT Ambition assisted the 200m module carrier from the module marshalling yard in Zeebrugge, Belgium through the locks of the Bruges-Zeebrugge seaway to Sabetta, Russia. The breadth of the module carrier at 43m meant there were width and wind restrictions.