Arctic Tugs–Three for Foss

gCaptain is reporting more ships being built for the Arctic. This time it is three tugs being built by Foss in their own Rainer, Oregon shipyard.

General arrangement of Foss’ Arctic Class of tugs. Image: Foss Maritime

These tugs are expected to meet:

  • American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) A1 requirements, including standards for hulls, machinery, towing, anchors and cable;
  • American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Ice Class requirements
  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requirements, including an on-board rescue boat and davit; and
  • Green Passport, which requires an inventory of shipboard hazardous materials that make decommissioning of vessels far safer.

In addition to the low-emission Caterpillar engines, the vessels will incorporate several environmentally focused designs and structural and technological upgrades, including:

  • Elimination of ballast tanks, so there is no chance of transporting invasive species;
  • Holding tanks for black and gray water to permit operations in no-discharge zones (such as parts of Alaska and California);
  • Hydraulic oil systems compatible with biodegradable oil;
  • Energy efficient LED lighting; and
  • High-energy absorption Schuyler fendering.

Looking at the diagram, the tugs appear to be about 130 feet. When it is time to replace the nine 140 ft Katmai Bay class WTGBs, There may be a design already in the water. They did begin entering service 33 years ago.

7 thoughts on “Arctic Tugs–Three for Foss

  1. Does the CG need to replace the WTGBs with a new tug design? Other than the two that have barges so that they can work ATON – what “tug” duties do the WTGBs do anymore?

    Wouldn’t an ice strengthened buoy tender design or even an ice strengthened WPC design be a better choice?

    • Its not their “tug” abilities that are significant. The WTGBs are really light icebreakers, that is their primary value. The CG still has some 65ft tugs too that are also used for icebreaking.

      Supposedly the WTGBs are go through a life extension programs, but since it seems to take ten years to fund the plan, plan, fund, build, and commission a new ship, the replacement process needs to start almost as soon as the life extension program.

      • That’s kind of my point… And to some extent in even the CG seems to agree – case in point is the new Mackinaw which is not only a good icebreaker but also an effective buoy tender…

        Why build an ice breaking tug which has limited value in the summer months and instead build a ice strengthened WPC variant that brings decent Command and Control capabilities making them more valuable for LE Operations in the Great Lakes? Imagine the potential – a WTGB replacement with the Command and Control and logistic abilities to act as an offshore mothership for a group of USCG, CPB, or USCIS small boats who act as “pouncers.” Then come winter have the icebreaking capabilities of the current WTGBs…

        The current WTGB and WYTL fleet in the summer arguably aren’t much more capable then a UTB or MLB let alone an RB-S… Why not use the extra space on a WTGB or WYTL to make them better than an oversized small boat in open water operations?

  2. Michaelb, I’ll assume you’ve been assigned to a WTGB. First I think you are seriously underestimating the requirements of a light ice breaker compared to an ice capable PB. Completely different concepts that become readily apparent when conducting ice breaking in the Great Lakes or on the Hudson. When you need ice breakers only the real thing will do. 2nd, In many ways the MLB or RB-M are more capable ‘for what they were designed to do’ than the WTGB. However, The WTGB is capable of performing the tasks you mention above regarding, C2, mothership support and logistics as well as patroling, training and with the adaptation of the barge, bouytending. likewise, the 225 can break ice but is not as well suited for the close in ship assist work a WTGB performs.

  3. I haven’t been assigned to one – but I’m at a unit that supports them.

    What I’m saying is that instead of an ice breaking tug – why shouldn’t the WTGB replacement be a cutter that has the ice-breaking capabilities of the WTGB but the Command and Control and C4IT capabilities of a WPC or better? Again, other than the 2 WTGB with barges – when was the last time a WTGB or WYTL was actually utilized for it’s capabilities as a tug – the 1972 NYC Garbage Strike?

    Why not start with a dedicated light to medium ice-breaking hull design (as opposed to a tug design), and adapt the interior and it’s systems for other operations?

    Yes, the barges could be adapted for more. However, there’s only two of them, and they are a nightmare to support. Since the barges are essentially fully functional extensions to the ship that also function to some extent without the ship – integrating the barges into the ship’s systems is a huge challenge. The issues we face with those two ships we don’t have to deal with anywhere else – I’ve even had a mfg of one ship’s system tell us: “you’re doing what?!?!” when we have to troubleshoot with them…

    • The WTGB wasn’t designed to be a tug… it is a light to medium ice breaking hull regardless of the tug stuck in the designator. It has more C2 ability than your previous post indicates. You clearly can speak to the problems of integrating the barge and the uniqueness of the assets leading to maintenance problems.

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