VESSEL REVIEW | VB Guardian and VB Longchamp – Final two units in six-tug series ordered by Boluda France

TUG & SALVAGE WEEK
VB Guardian (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Mathieu Burnel)

Boluda France, the Marseille-based subsidiary of Spanish harbour towage company Boluda Corporacion Maritima, has taken delivery of two ASD tugs in a series of six that had originally been ordered from local shipbuilder Piriou in March 2018.

The acquisition of the additional tugs was in line with Boluda France’s massive fleet expansion programme that had begun in 2015. Under this programme, the company sought to modernise its fleet by acquiring vessels that were capable of performing both harbour and deep-sea towing as well as secondary firefighting and ship escort duties, all while adhering to the latest safety and performance requirements of some of the major French ports.

The multi-purpose ASD tugs VB Longchamp and VB Guardian belong to an existing Piriou series that has been customised with more powerful engines and other additional features to satisfy the operator’s need for vessels with greater bollard pull and various operational improvements. However, even with the noticeable increases in power and capability, the two new tugs – as well as the four other vessels from the same sub-series – are near identical sisters of an earlier batch of six vessels that had been delivered by Piriou to Boluda France between 2015 and 2017.

VB Longchamp (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Pascal Bredel)

Each of the new tugs is of all-steel construction and has an LOA of 30.3 metres, a moulded beam of 10.4 metres, a depth of 4.45 metres from the main deck, a maximum draught of 5.3 metres, and a raised forecastle deck that the builder claims will ensure improved safety for the crew during harbour and coastal towing operations. Although designed to be operated only by a crew of four, there are accommodations for up to six people in two one-person and two two-person berths that have been designed in compliance to both MLC 2006 and IMO standards, and special attention has also been given to ensure that the onboard noise is reduced for greater comfort within the berths.

Two medium-speed, turbocharged four-stroke main diesel engines each rated at 2,240 kW deliver a speed of 12.5 knots and a bollard pull of up to 75 tonnes at 100 per cent MCR. A system that consists of a 16-cubic-metre freshwater tank and box cooler refrigerants provides cooling for the engines, guaranteeing that the tugs will continue to operate even under the demanding conditions at the ever-busy French port of Le Havre.

Piriou claims that the new vessels are small and manoeuvrable enough to operate effectively within the waters of the port. Further, with a raised wheelhouse that boasts 360-degree visibility and an ergonomically designed single-command control station, each tug may be operated by only one crewmember under certain conditions.

Each tug also has an aft-mounted winch and a tugger winch for deep-sea towing work, a double drum fore winch, and a full FiFi1 system which draws its power from the main engines. Piriou had also incorporated special antifouling and ICAF systems which have been designed to undergo maintenance once for every five years of normal operation, thus ensuring reduced vessel downtimes.

VB Guardian and VB Longchamp were delivered to Boluda France from Piriou’s Vietnam facilities (the former South East Asia Shipyard just outside Ho Chi Minh City) in April of this year.

See more stories from this month’s Tug and Salvage Week here.

VB Guardian, VB Longchamp
SPECIFICATIONS
Type of vessel: Harbour and deep-sea towing tugs
Classification: BV
Port of registry: Le Havre; Saint-Nazaire; Marseille Fos
Flag: France
Owner: Boluda France
Operator: Boluda France
Designer: Piriou, France
Builder: Piriou Vietnam
Hull construction material: Steel
Superstructure construction material: Steel
Length overall: 30.3 metres
Beam: 10.4 metres
Draught: 5.3 metres maximum
Depth: 4.45 metres from main deck
Main engines: 2 x diesel engines, each rated 2,240 kW
Maximum speed: 12.5 knots
Bollard pull: 75 tonnes
Winches: Sea towing winch; tugger winch; double drum fore winch
Other equipment installed: FiFi1 system powered by main engines; antifouling system; ICAF system
Type of fuel: Diesel
Fuel capacity: 85 cubic metres
Freshwater capacity: 16 cubic metres
Accommodation: 6
Crew: 4

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