AWARDS 2022 | Best Oil Spill Response Vessel – Sentinel 304 – Robert Allan Ltd & Western Canada Marine Response Corporation

AWARDS 2022 | Best Oil Spill Response Vessel – Sentinel 304 – Robert Allan Ltd & Western Canada Marine Response Corporation

Best Oil Spill Response Vessel – Sentinel 303 (Photo: Robert Allan Ltd)

Best Oil Spill Response Vessel – Sentinel 304 – Robert Allan Ltd & Western Canada Marine Response Corporation

These interesting vessels are a departure from Robert Allan Ltd’s usual fare. They adequately illustrate the firm’s broad capabilities.

Designed to the strict requirements of a very important Canadian organisation, these specialised vessels are charged with ensuring the cleanliness of the pristine seas of the country’s picturesque west coast. The sister barges are located in Nanaimo (Sentinel 304) and Vancouver Harbour (Sentinel 303).

“There’s nothing quite else on the BC coast that can match the multi-purpose marine oil response capabilities these two barges provide for our province,” owner Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) told Baird Maritime.

“The ability to hold 3,785 cubic metres of recovered petroleum product, sleep 20 mariners, hold 17 sea containers filled with response-ready equipment, boom, absorbents, current busters, you name it. The time and energy taken to plan, prepare, construct and commission these barges to be able to respond effectively and efficiently to emergency scenarios involved nearly every department of our organisation, and for us at WCMRC, that’s what makes these barges so special.”

“They are the largest oil spill response barges in Canada and significantly enhance the spill response capability on Canada’s West Coast and benefit the entire local marine community,” designer Robert Allan Ltd (RAL) added. “In addition to providing tankage, they also provide the extensive accommodations, response equipment and large deck area required to adequately respond to a spill if needed.”

WCMRC said the most significant difficulty in commissioning the vessels stemmed from the sheer number of different part numbers within the 17 sea containers each barge held, as well as the various parts each individual barge needed.

“For a bit of reference, our logistics team spent over 2,000 hours in planning, ordering, receiving, and outfitting containers for the barges. To lay down the groundwork, the team began ordering major assets 14 months out, prior to the barges being delivered.”

RAL remarked that the start of construction of the barges was delayed due to factors outside the control of the client. During the delay, aspects of the design were updated, but this required a reapproval by class society ABS on parts of the design that changed. The rules and regulations changed since the original approval by ABS, and so some extra modifications were encountered during this update phase.

“In the end, the client received vessels that are better suited to how they intend to operate them.”

WCMRC commented on one of the urgent needs that the new barges were built to satisfy.

“On Canada’s West Coast, the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline will be complete and operational by the end of 2023. This will result in increased tanker traffic. The new response barges are part of a CA$163 million (US$121 million) spill response enhancement program that will see 44 new response vessels and a doubling of the number of our response personnel.”

The owner said 2022 was a busy year, marked by the purchase of three new response bases (Sidney, Nanaimo, Fraser River) as part of an enhancement program to meet an increase in tanker traffic due to the Trans Mountain expansion.

“All told there will be six new response bases,” WCMRC told Baird Maritime. “The enhancement program is the largest ever in Canadian spill response and will leave us well positioned to meet response needs on the West Coast.”

WCMRC added that the spill response industry will need to adapt to new fuels in the future as the shipping industry starts to make moves towards decarbonisation. One indication of this is the introduction of new deep-sea vessel builds for ships using methanol and ammonia.

“As governments and ports look to decarbonise,” RAL remarked, “there is also focus on the other potential environmental impacts of shipping. Therefore, there is increased investment in dedicated vessels to respond if a small spill were to occur from bunkering or significant environmental harm resulting from vessel damage. The advancements in the development of such vessels and their specialised equipment are fortunately underway.”

For a list of the 2022 “Best Of” award winners, please click here.

Baird Maritime

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