Helo Moves

An MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter taxis on the runway at Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, April 13, 2017. Jayhawks are replacing the current helicopters the air station operates to provide improved search and rescue coverage in the area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Traverse City)

A bit of reshuffling of air assets as SeaWaves reports CGAS Traverse City receives the first of three MH-60Ts that will replace the four MH-65 previously deployed there.

One of the H-65s has already been transferred to CGAS Atlantic City. Two will go to the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron in Jacksonville, Florida. One will be transferred to the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama, to support a fleet-wide training initiative associated with a modernization effort.

Finland Builds an LNG Powered Icebreaker.

FinnishLNGicebreaker

For more photos see http://gcaptain.com/photos-worlds-first-lng-powered-icebreaker-polaris/

ARCTECH has completed the World’s first LNG powered (dual fuel capable, low sulfur diesel or LNG) icebreaker, NB501 Polaris, for the Finnish Transport Agency, and it is currently in sea trials.

The vessel will be able to move continuously through about 1.6 meter thick level ice, to break a 25 meter wide channel in 1.2 meter thick ice at speed of 6 knots, as well as to reach 9…11 knots of average assistance speed in the demanding icebreaking conditions in the Baltic Sea. In open water the service speed will be 16 knots.

Reportedly “It will also be able to perform oil spill response operations, emergency towing and rescue operations.”

Its dimensions are 110x24x8 meters or 361x79x26 feet. Its propulsion comes from three azimuthing propulsors totaling 19kW or about 25,500 HP. Specs here (pdf).

Crew requirements are tiny at 16.

With a 30 day endurance, it does not have the range the Coast Guard needs for Polar Operations, but with 180% more horsepower than the Mackinaw, it would make a great Great Lakes icebreaker. The US certainly has a lot of LNG. Would be good for the environment too. (Of course it would have to be built in the US, but using a foreign design is not a problem for the Coast Guard.)

Thanks to Lee for bringing this to my attention. 

Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress–Updated

POLAR SEA and POLAR STAR side by side in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

The US Naval Institute News Service has provided a copy of the Dec. 14, 2015 Congressional Research Service report, “Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress,” by Naval Ronald O’Rourke.

This updates a series of earlier reports.

It is quite clear from the report that even if things go as planned, which I doubt it will, we will have a period of two to six years when we will have only one medium icebreaker and no heavy icebreakers.

If we do as currently planned, we will not see a new icebreaker until at least 2024.

We have looked at alternatives that might carry us through until the US can truly recapitalize its current fleet.

We can renovate Polar Sea. Clearly Congress is running out of patience waiting for a decision about what to do with this ship. We ought to ask for the funds to renovate it one way or the other.

We can lease one or two of these excess icebreakers. We could put one in the Great Lakes to satisfy those interests and it could in worst case exit the Great Lakes and go to the assistance of a polar icebreaker or break into resupply Thule airbase in Greenland.

Both of these are relatively low cost options. They deserve serious consideration.

Domestic Icebreaker Innovation

Zurich, Switzerland headquartered, ABB Group reports they “will provide the power, automation and turbocharging capabilities for the most advanced port icebreaker ever built.”

The Russian built ship’s configuration is unusual, described as “a totally new concept especially developed for heavy harbour ice conditions with extensive thick brash ice.” It has four 3 MegaWatt Azipod units with two in the stern and two at the bow.

Sounds like this configuration might permit the ship to be used as an oblique icebreaker, allowing it to clear a channel wider than the ship’s beam.

Tups, who seems to be our resident icebreaker expert, brought this to my attention. He feels this type of icebreaker may be appropriate for the Great Lakes. He notes that the new Russian icebreaker is “slightly bigger than USCGC Mackinaw…about 50 ft longer, 10 ft wider, 5 ft deeper and about twice as powerful.”

Michigan Senators Push for Another Great Lakes Icebreaker

EdisonChouestOffshoreAHTSicebreaker

MarineLog reports that both Senators from Michigan have requested “Robust” funding for a “Heavy Icebreaker” for the Great Lakes.

OK they called the Mackinaw a heavy icebreaker, and we know it really is not, so something less may work.

Looking at the excess Shell icebreakers we talked about earlier, it appears the already built icebreaker Aiviq, with a beam of 80 feet, is a little too large to squeeze through the St. Lawrence Seaway, but if Tups was right, and this is the icebreaking vessel Shell had under construction at Edison Chouest, its beam, 22 meters (72.2 feet) is less than the 78 foot  maximum for the Seaway. Maybe something could be worked out.

This is a lot larger and more powerful than USCGC Mackinaw.

Ship Name: LA SHIP 304
Shiptype: Anchor Handling Tug Supply
LR/IMO No.: 9788368
Gross tonnage: 6,000
Year of Build: 2017
Flag: United States Of America
Status: Keel Laid (status changed 2014-11-17)
Operator: Galliano Marine Service LLC
Shipbuilder: LaShip LLC
Length Overall: 94.600 m
Breadth Moulded: 22.000 m
Depth: 11.800 m
Machinery overview: 4 diesel electric oil engines driving, connected to 2 electric motors reduction geared to screw shafts driving 2 Azimuth electric drive units. Total Power: Mcr 20,240kW (27,520hp), Csr 17,204kW (23,392hp)
Prime mover detail: Design: Caterpillar, Engine Builder: Caterpillar Inc – USA, 4 x C280-16, 4 Stroke, Single Acting, Vee, 16 Cy. 280 x 300, Mcr: 5,060 kW (6,880 hp) at 900 rpm

Being somewhat cynical, if this was more than a political gesture, I would have thought they would have gotten signatures from Senators from other states that border the Great Lakes.