Crowley Fuels has signed construction contracts to build a 55,000-bbl., articulated tug-barge (ATB) that is specifically designed to serve the Western Alaska market with delivery of clean fuel products.

The 410' ATB will have enhanced performance features for the demanding river and sea conditions of Western Alaska. The area depends on safe and reliable marine delivery services during the short open-water season.

Master Boat Builders, Bayou La Batre, Ala., will build the tug and Gunderson Marine LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Greenbrier Companies Inc., Portland, Ore., will construct the 350', 55,000-bbl. tank barge. Construction on the barge will begin in the first quarter of calendar 2020, and delivery of the ATB is expected by January 2021. The barge will be dual-certified to comply with both U.S. EPA Tier 3 and IMO Tier III air-quality emission standards, a rigorous set of U.S. and international standards intended to significantly reduce nitrous oxide emissions from marine diesel engines. This will be the 10th barge Gunderson Marine has built for Crowley since 1985, when Greenbrier acquired Gunderson.

Operating from the largest side-launch shipyard on the West Coast, Gunderson Marine is the only West Coast shipyard that has built large, articulated tug barges, while also leading the industry in the number of ATBs built over the past five years, Gunderson said.

Design of the ATB was completed by Crowley Maritime Corp. subsidiary Jensen Maritime, Seattle. Crowley’s project management group will provide plan review, on-site construction management in the shipyards, and will work with Crowley Fuels to transition the vessel into service.

“Our new ATB will continue Crowley Fuels’ long-standing commitment to provide Alaska with safe and dependable marine transportation to serve the energy needs of the state,” Rick Meidel, vice president and general manager, Crowley Fuels, said in a statement announcing the new contract. “We look forward to working with Gunderson Marine and Master Boat Builders to build both a high-performing and efficient vessel to serve the state and enhance our overall operations. The vessel’s capabilities will be able to meet the particular needs of Western Alaska, which depends on maneuverable and functional vessels for reliable supply of the communities’ fuel needs.”

The ATB will meet all ABS Ice-class and IMO Polar Code requirements. Features include increased structural framing, shell plating, and extended zero discharge endurance. The tug and barge are designed with shallow operating draft. This allows the vessel to serve several Alaska river terminals with limited water depths. Additionally, the ATB will feature the capability to perform nearshore ship-to-ship cargo transfers.

The barge will be fitted with an azimuthing pump jet bowthruster to provide enhanced maneuverability and station keeping capability. In addition, the tug will be fitted with two GE 6L250 main engines that meet EPA Tier IV environmental standards. The tug will have azimuthing stern drives to enhance maneuverability, and an Intercon C-series coupler system.

To provide off-ship firefighting capabilities to the barge, the tug will be equipped with a fire monitor and foam proportioner. In addition, the ATB will include a full complement of spill response gear, including 2,000' of boom and a work skiff to meet State of Alaska requirements.

“Gunderson Marine has a deep-rooted history serving Crowley,” said William A. Furman, Greenbrier Chairman and CEO. “We are pleased to continue this legacy with one of the world’s premier marine solutions companies and one of our largest and most prominent customers. This is an exciting opportunity, and we look forward to collaborating during the construction of this vessel.”

“We are thrilled about the opportunity to work with Crowley on this project,” said Garrett Rice, chief financial officer, Master Boat Builders. “We know the importance of this vessel to the remote areas of Alaska and are excited to collaborate with a yard with such a good reputation and history as Gunderson Marine to give Crowley Fuels a quality vessel to meet the needs of Western Alaska.“

The new ATB will follow Crowley’s 100,000-bbl. ATB now finishing construction at Bollinger Shipyards, Lockport, La. The ATB will be in service under charter in Alaska to Petro Star Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corp. (ASRC). The barge will be named Oliver Leavitt, in honor of ASRC’s former chairman and current member of the corporation’s board of directors. The tug will be named Aveogan, Leavitt’s Iñupiat name.