VESSEL REFIT | Abeille Mediterranee – Anchor handler pair rebuilt for emergency response in France’s coastal waters

EMERGENCY SERVICES WEEK
Abeille Normandie (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Pascal Bredel)

German Naval Yards Kiel (GNY) has completed conversion work on two ex-Norwegian-owned anchor handling tugs to enable them to perform a range of emergency response functions along the French coast.

The DNV-classed, 2010-built sister vessels Abeille Mediterranee and Abeille Normandie were acquired in 2021 by Les Abeilles International, a French vessel operator that provides towage, salvage, and pollution response services. Formerly operated as Siem Diamond and Siem Garnet by Norway’s Siem Offshore in support of oil and gas clients, the tugs are now being provided under charter to the French Navy to serve primarily as emergency towing vessels (ETVs) in the English Channel and in the North and Mediterranean Seas. They will also carry out the secondary functions of salvage, search and rescue (SAR), firefighting, and escort for other vessels in distress.

The ETVs each have a length of 91 metres, a beam of 22 metres, a maximum draught of 7.95 metres, and two 8,000kW engines driving controllable-pitch propellers to deliver a bollard pull of over 280 tonnes and a maximum speed of 18 knots. At a more economical cruising speed of 11 knots, each vessel can stay out at sea for a maximum of 45 days.

The two ETVs underwent a €60 million (US$61.28 million) modification program that includes complete conversion of the sterns, arrangement of the working winches, upgrading of the onboard cranes, and installation of additional rescue equipment. Also, additional rooms on the working deck were constructed and modifications were completed in the accommodation area to ensure suitability for humanitarian operations. The vessels now each have accommodations for 12 crewmembers and 44 other personnel in 18 single cabins and 20 double cabins, and up to 300 rescued survivors may be housed if needed.

Abeille Normandie (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/guedez gwén)

An onboard hospital has beds for seven injured patients.

The external firefighting equipment consists of two FiFi2 pumps and two monitors while two containment booms and a pump connected to a 150-cubic-metre dispersant tank will be utilised for pollution control missions.

To augment the ETVs’ own response capability, each vessel also has dedicated deck space and davits for a seven-metre fast rescue craft and two Zodiac Milpro 7.5-metre, aluminium-hulled rigid inflatable boats (RIBs).

Power for the onboard systems is supplied by diesel generators.

Abeille Mediterranee and Abeille Normandie are homeported at Toulon and Boulogne-sur-Mer, respectively, and have since replaced two 44-year-old vessels in the Les Abeilles emergency response fleet. In fulfillment of the charter with the French Navy, each ETV will be crewed and configured to be ready to sail out of its homeport within 40 minutes after receiving a call to mobilise.

The ETVs are officially designated by the French Navy as intervention, assistance, and rescue tugs (remorqueur d’intervention, d’assistance et de sauvetage; RIAS).

Abeille Normandie (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Paskal Bronnec)

Click here for more news stories, feature articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on emergency services vessels.

Abeille Mediterranee & Abeille Normandie
SPECIFICATIONS
Type of vessel:Emergency towing vessels
Classification:DNV+ 1A1, FIRE FIGHTER (II), STANDBY VESSEL, TUG, BIS, CLEAN (DESIGN), COMF(V-3), DK (+), Dynpos (AUT), EO, HL (2.5/2.8), ICE(C), NAUT(OSV(A)), SF, TMON
Ports of registry:Toulon, France; Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
Flag:France
Owner:Les Abeilles International, France
Builder:German Naval Yards Kiel, Germany
Length overall:91 metres
Length bp:79.35 metres
Beam:22 metres
Draught:7.95 metres
Main engines:2 x 8,000 kW at 750 rpm
Propulsion:2 x controllable-pitch propellers
Generators:2 x 3,778 kVA at 720 rpm; 2 x 2,270 kW at 1,800 rpm; 465 kW at 1,800 rpm
Side thrusters:2 x 880 kW; 2 x 1,000 kW; 830 kW
Maximum speed:18 knots
Cruising speed:11 knots
Bollard pull:280 tonnes
Winches:4
Capstans:2
Other equipment installed:Dispersant pump; 2 x containment booms
Firefighting equipment:2 x pumps; 2 x monitors
Tenders:2 x Zodiac MilPro
Type of fuel:Diesel
Fuel capacity:1,223 cubic metres
Freshwater capacity:1,071 cubic metres
Accommodation:18 x single cabins; 20 x double cabins; hospital
Crew:12
Passengers:44
Operational areas:English Channel; North Sea; Mediterranean Sea

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