Valdez tug fleet prepares for action

'Commander' is the first of five escort tugs for Valdez (Captain Ted Shipspotting.com) 'Commander' is the first of five escort tugs for Valdez (Captain Ted Shipspotting.com)
Industry Database

Edison Chouest Offshore is readying a fleet of tugs and oil response vessels as it prepares to take over towage and associated support duties at Valdez Marine Terminal.

Following a competitive tender process, the contract to supply marine services at the terminal for Alyeska Pipeline Services Co was awarded to Edison Chouest Offshore following Crowley Marine Corp who had operated at the terminal for around 20 years. The new contract takes effect shortly with training and other preparations now well underway.

The escort tug Commander along with general-purpose tug Elrington and oil spill response barge OSRB-1 have spent several weeks performing more than 30 tether/tow exercises along with barge deployments with fishing vessels to familiarise themselves with the Valdez operation.

Edison Chouest are investing heavily in a formidable fleet of vessels for the contract and at time of writing two more 2018-built tugs Courageous and Latouche are due to arrive at Valdez. The fleet of five escort tugs are due to be completed with the arrival of Contender, Champion and Challenger, the line-up also including four new general-purpose tugs, four new oil spill response barges and five new escort work boats. All are standard design and purpose-built for work in Prince William Sound and USCG classed, certified by ABS. The escort tugs will each have two 3,168hp Tier IV main engines, a 20% increase in power over the current escort tugs.

The crews are meanwhile continuing to receive training at Alaska Vocational Training Center at Seward. This includes hands-on and classroom work and bridge coordination training as well as time spent in Edison Chouest’s custom-built simulator at its headquarters in Louisiana. In time it is intended to install a simulator at Edison Chouest’s Valdez office and by the end of 2018 Edison Chouest’s mariners will have completed more than 20,000 collective hours of Alyeska/Prince William Sound-specific training.

The package involves not only traditional towage assistance, a service familiar in ports worldwide (two tugs will accompany each tanker arriving and departing) but also includes extensive oil spill response capabilities including on board the tugs themselves. The Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS) was created in 1989 to prevent oil spills and provide response capabilities and preparedness for Alyeska Pipeline Services and Alaska crude oil shipping companies.

By Peter Barker

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