'Abeille Bourbon' takes up station

This view of new ETV Abeille Bourbon shows the traditional rounded stern but yacht-like profile. This view of new ETV Abeille Bourbon shows the traditional rounded stern but yacht-like profile.
Industry Database

Abeille Bourbon , the first of two identical and most impressive Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs) has been delivered to Les Abeilles International inGroupe Bourbon and will operate on long term charter to the French navy.

With sister ship Abeille Liberte , the vessels will be stationed at strategic locations on the French coastline, one in Brest, and the other in Cherbourg. They replace the well-known ocean-going salvage tugs, Abeille Flandres and Abeille Languedoc that have been on station in the area for over 25 years. Built in Ulsteinvik in Norway in 1978 and 1979 respectively the old tugs have successfully undertaken many difficult rescue operations and will remain in service, moving to other locations.

The new UT 515 vessels were designed and equipped by Rolls Royce, as were their predecessors, to meet a tough set of requirements set by the owner for a multipurpose salvage tug, coastguard and standby vessel. Among their principal roles are, towage and salvage assistance to casualties at sea, deep sea towing, fire fighting and anti-pollution duties.

On trials, a bollard pull of just over 201 tonnes was achieved, together with a speed of 19.8 knots at maximum continuous engine ratings. A high free running speed will enable Abeille Bourbon to move quickly to an incident and the bollard pull should enable the tug to prevent a stricken vessel grounding and tow it to safety.

Abeille Bourbon was completed by Myklebust Verft (part of the Kleven Maritime Group) on the west coast of Norway using a hull fabricated in Poland. The tug is almost 'yacht-like' in appearance and has a length 80m long, a beam of 16.5m and a service draught of about 6m.

A specially designed hull was developed for these vessels, incorporating a bulbous bow and relatively deep aft cross-sections.

The superstructure is located close to amidships, helping to reduce the effects of motion in the accommodation and a passive roll reduction tank system is installed.

Two Kamewa Ulstein CP propellers in nozzles are powered by four medium speed diesels producing a total of 16,000kW.

Renk combining gearboxes with power take-offs for the shaft generators were 'bought in' and supplied by Rolls-Royce as part of the equipment package.

Two Rolls-Royce classic rudders are operated by Tenfjord steering gear allowing them to be controlled in unison or independently. Two Kamewa Ulstein TT 2200 tunnel thrusters are located at the bow, each rated at 883kW. A pair of smaller tunnel thrusters type TT1650 of 515kW are located in the skeg aft. The system is controlled and monitored by a UMAS V system.

The provision of electrical power is handled by two 2,400kVA shaft generators coupled to the main gearboxes.

They are supplemented by three 500kW auxiliary generators, one of which is silenced for harbour use, and a 164kW emergency generator.

On deck, Abeille Bourbon isconfigured as a deep sea towing and salvage tug and does not have the clear after deck and open stern that has become a feature of many modern ETVs.

The main towing winch is a Rauma Brattvaag two drum hydraulic unit, with a 250 tonne pull (on the first layer) and a brake holding load of 500 tonnes. Each winch drum can accommodate up to 1600m of 80mm wire rope. The low-pressure winch hydraulic system utilises two motors and winch speeds can be varied by using one or both.

Wires from the winch pass over a towing arch protecting the after deck. Located below the arch is a deck-house containing four powered rope storage reels.

The after bulwarks are rounded to prevent chaffing the towlines and embody the hydraulically operated towing pins and 'sharks jaws'. Also located on the aft deck are two capstans and a tugger winch. Up to 300 tonnes of cargo or equipment can be carried out the aft deck, which has an area of 350m 2. Large storage spaces for salvage equipment are provided either side of the main winch house in the forward end of the aft deckhouse and in the hold. Two 20ft equipment containers can also be located on deck, one on either side of the hatch. A Hydramarine crane rated at 23tonnes/11m serves the working deck and there is another crane of the same make further forward for handling stores and provisions.

Abeille Bourbon carries a selection of rescue craft, including two Springer 741 MOB boats under single point Hydramarine davits and an outboard motor powered inflatable.

External fire fighting to FiFi II standard is provided, with three monitors on the upper platform, two of which can handle water or foam. A total of 7,200m 3/h of water can be supplied by two Kvaerner fire-fighting pumps driven via Kumera step-up gearboxes, from the forward end of the two inner main engines.

Accommodation is provided for a total of 25 people spread over four decks. The crew and officers' messes are located at main deck level, along with a hospital and four berth sick bay.

A salvage operations control room, a recreation room and a block of two berth and four berth cabins are on A-deck.

More single berth en-suit cabins are situated above on B-deck and at C-deck level are suites for the master and chief engineer, the officers' lounge and the ship's office.

The wheelhouse is arranged to suit a wide variety of operations.

Most of the principle controls and instruments are located on a forward facing console and in an overhead display. A free-standing console to starboard is mainly dedicated to safety systems and communications. The aft control station overlooking the working deck has three consoles and additional manoeuvring controls are also available on each bridge wing and the casing for the exhaust uptakes.

Abeille Bourbon was formally christened at Brest on the 13 April by Madame Bernadette Chirac, wife of the French president in the presence of vice-admiral Laurent Merer, maritime prefect for the Atlantic, and Mr Jacques de Chateauvieux, chairman of Groupe Bourbon. The second tug Abeille Liberte is due to arrive in the coming months.

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