The BRAtt has arrived in style!

All aspects of outfitting have been carried out to a very high standard.
All aspects of outfitting have been carried out to a very high standard.
The BRAtt was demonstrated at ITS 2010 to a very wide audience.
The BRAtt was demonstrated at ITS 2010 to a very wide audience.
BRAtt is in every respect a working tugs with a conventional ASD deck layout.
BRAtt is in every respect a working tugs with a conventional ASD deck layout.
The training tug has the agility and handling characteristics of a full size tug.
The training tug has the agility and handling characteristics of a full size tug.
A hydraulic towing winch is located on the fore deck.
A hydraulic towing winch is located on the fore deck.
Industry Database

On 17 May delegates and visitors to the ITS 2010 Tug & Salvage Convention in Vancouver awoke to find the first prototype BRAtt training tug moored outside the Westin Bayshore Hotel.

For several months the towage industry has been hearing about this unique addition to the extensive inventory of designs from the nearby offices of Robert Allan Ltd. This intriguing little vessel created a great deal of interest and, regardless of one’s opinion on the commercial aspects, the first reaction from many spectators was, ‘I want one!’.

Thanks to the hard work and many hours of effort expended by boat builders Adrenalin Marine Ltd of nearby Delta BC, and project staff from Robert Allan Ltd (RAL), this first example of the BRAtt was completed and made its maiden trip to the show with just hours to spare. During the few days that followed, a series of announcements were made that were to highlight just what a serious project this has become.

The BRAtt training tug was the brainchild of Ron Burchett and Robert Allan Ltd, and is the result of a collaboration that recognised the global need for cost effective ASD training vessel for today's towage industry. Hence the name Burchett and Robert Allan training tug – BRAtt. Ron Burchett has become well known in the towage industry as a superb model maker who has specialised in building scale model tugs with a scale performance. His work is used extensively by designers for use in tank testing and for use by training organisations where tug models work alongside manned ship models. The BRAtt introduces the manned tug model concept for the first time, but in highly sophisticated form. The vessels are designed exclusively by Robert Allan Ltd, naval architects of Vancouver, and will be built in North America, Europe and China by selected licensed builders.

The BRAtt prototype demonstrated to great effect in Vancouver is a diesel powered vessel of just 8.53m in length overall, with a moulded beam of 4.95m and a draft (loaded) of 1.44m. A double chine hull form incorporates a forward, escort style skeg, and is representative of a modern compact ASD tug. The all welded aluminium alloy hull has been constructed to a very high standard by Adrenalin Marine, which built and fitted out the complete vessel.

The entire superstructure, wheelhouse, cooling ducts, hatches and fittings are also manufactured in aluminium where suitable, with the remaining vital components in stainless steel. Everything about the design is representative of a working tug. The wheelhouse is constructed in aluminium and resiliently mounted, with bonded glass windows to give exceptional all round vision from the controls.

Bulwarks are of a suitable height for a working vessel. Four mooring bitts are installed and designed to double as lifting points for docking or transportation by road. The fendering, supplied by Shibata, comprises cylindrical rubber mouldings of 300 and 400mm in diameter secured with nylon webbing and stainless steel fittings.

In keeping with a full size ASD tug, a single drum Braden PD12-C hydraulic towing winch is fitted on the foredeck. The winch has a line pull of 1.43 tons at 30m/min and a maximum brake load (using the hydraulic brake) of 7.25 tons. A 50m towline of 19mm diameter Samson Quantum 12 rope has a breaking strength of 18.5 tons. The towline is deployed through a stainless steel staple (fairlead) as per common ASD practice. A towing point on the aft deck takes the form of a 400mm deck cleat.

This first prototype BRAtt, is powered by two Cummins QSB5.9-230 HD marine diesels, generating 168kW at 2,600 rpm for a total of approximately 450bhp. Power is transmitted to a pair of Olympic model HD3 fully azimuthing drives via ZF Marine ZF 280-1 gearboxes with a 1:1 ratio and slipping clutches. The engines are flexibly mounted and the connecting shafts, supplied by CENTA, are fitted with ‘Centaflex’ couplings. The drives incorporate 2:1 reduction gears and 655mm diameter four blade propellers, rotating in stainless steel nozzles.

A bollard pull of at least 3.6 tons is specified and a maximum speed of 8 knots. A useful fuel capacity of 1,400 litres (365 US gallons) is provided.

The propulsion controls in the wheelhouse are representative of those found in the majority of ASD tugs, providing a controller on either side of the console, giving a full 360 degree rotation and speed control in each hand. The units are operated by the electronic control system via hydraulically actuated steering gear by Prime Mover Controls Ltd.

A Furuno navigation and communications outfit, supplied by Radio Holland Canada, includes radar, a chart display, GPS, echosounder, heading sensor, two VHF radios and a magnetic compass.

The electrical system aboard the prototype BRAtt is 12v DC with Li-ion batteries from Corvus Energy, AGM batteries and engine driven alternators. A 120V shore power connection is provided.

From the foregoing description it is obvious that the BRAtt is a complete working tug in its own right. Although primarily intended as a training vessel, the BRAtt is also designed to be an affordable alternative to full sized tugs for harbour duties such as boom deployment, small ship assist duties, barge towing, and line handling, etc.

For the duration of the ITS Convention the BRAtt was busy giving endless demonstrations to interested parties. Experienced tug masters took to it immediately, commenting on the almost identical handling characteristics to a full size ASD. To the uninitiated it was an opportunity to experience handling typical ASD controls in a relatively safe and none threatening environment. Your MJ correspondent is by no means a tug master but after just a few minutes at the controls, came away with the impression that it will be an excellent teaching tool. When mistakes are made in handling a powerful full size ASD the result can be unforgiving, rapid, and expensive. BRAtt goes some way to removing that fear factor.

The training of tug crews has become an increasing issue due to the lack of time and ability to train personnel onboard a modern high powered ASD or tractor tug. Crews are small in number and there is often little opportunity to rise through the ranks to Captain with adequate experience to meet statutory requirements.

The benefits of the BRAtt as a training vessel are:

 • The vessel has a much lower cost than a full size tug.

• Working assets are not taken out of revenue producing service due to operator training.

• The risk to full size tug assets during training is eliminated.

• The cost of training operations is much reduced, due to use of a lower cost vessel and no additional crew are involved while one person trains. Potential Masters can be trained much faster and more effectively with an intensive skills based process.

• If some harbour towing work is available, cost recovery is possible using the

 BRAtt as an operational tug.

The future prospects for the BRAtt are looking good. As previously reported (MJ – June 2010) Robert Allan Ltd, Western Maritime Institute, and Corvus Energy Limited signed a contract at ITS 2010 for the design and construction of the world's first ‘Green’ training tugs. Western Maritime Institute (WMI) is an accredited marine training institute located near Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, provide a wide range of operational and safety training courses for marine personnel at all levels. The Institute will be the first such organisation anywhere in the world equipped with dedicated ASD training vessels. Adrenalin Marine Ltd of Delta BC, the licensed builder for all BRAtts in North America, will deliver two BRAtts to WMI in 2011, one fully electric and one hybrid-electric.

Corvus Energy has developed the electrical propulsion power systems for both vessels in close collaboration with Robert Allan Ltd. The design options chosen offer the best of both worlds, one fully emission free, electric powered vessel and one fuel efficient, diesel-electric hybrid vessel.

Due to the rapidly changing market demands for low vessel emissions, RAL have four versions of the BRAtt under development to give their clients the opportunity to choose the propulsion system best suited to their needs. These are: 

• A diesel driven BRAtt: The most economical choice, with conventional propulsion components.

• A hybrid BRAtt: Today's alternative, using integrated technologies with emission reductions optimised.

• An all electric BRAtt: An emissions free vessel for the perfect environmental solution.

• A fuel cell driven BRAtt: Tomorrow's technology available today.

Two further announcements were made at ITS 2010 regarding BRAtt production. Cheoy Lee Shipbuilding is to be licensed to produce the BRAtt for the Asian market. The Chinese company has had a long association with Robert Allan Ltd, marketing several important full size tugs built to RAL designs. Netherlands based Redwise Ship Delivery Services, will be licensed to build the vessel in Europe, initially for their own internal crew training.

A recent statement from RAL reads, ‘Ultimately we are confident that the BRAtt concept will find significant acceptance in the worlds of both tug operators and training institutes. The objective is to build and sell these tugs worldwide. Fully outfitted versions will be built in Canada or the USA, depending on the locale of the buyer. Full ‘kit boat’ options will be available for sale to operators in Europe, the Middle East, and in Asia, and we anticipate setting up a network of licensed builders who will achieve our quality standards to provide completed tugs to local markets in these areas. We also anticipate that others, lacking imagination, may attempt to emulate the concept, as has been done with many of our compact tug designs, but there can only be one BRAtt!’

By Jack Gaston

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