The first of four in a new class of 100’x40’ Tier 4-powered tractor tugs for Seattle-based Foss Maritime is taking shape, after a formal keel laying Monday at the Nichols Brothers Boat Builders yard in Freeland, Wash.

"The new tugs are designed to upgrade our fleet and improve the company’s ability to provide timely harbor and port services to a variety of customers,” said John Parrott, president and CEO of Foss Maritime, in prepared remarks at the event.

“By offering lower maintenance down time, greater operating efficiencies and lower emissions, these new tugs help expand our nearshore and offshore capabilities,” said Parrott.

A silver dollar and owners' initial were welded into the keel of a new Foss Maritime Tug. Foss Maritime photo.

A silver dollar and owners' initials were welded into the keel of a new Foss Maritime tug. Foss Maritime photo.

Parrott spoke after Nichols Brothers workers welded a silver dollar into the keel, a nautical tradition. Nicole Engle, one of the principals of Foss’ parent company, Saltchuk, made the first ceremonial weld of her initials into the keel, assisted by Nichols Brother journeyman welder Justina Mackie.

Foss has ordered four of the ASD 90 class, with an option for an additional six. Designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants, Seattle, the vessels will be based on Jensen’s proven Valor tugboat hull, with high-efficiency catalytic after-treatment technology to achieve Tier 4 emissions limits.

The Valor design is the template for other series of powerful tugs for a number of customers, said Jay Edgar, vice president of engineering services with Jensen’s parent company Crowley Maritime Corp.

“Our approach has been to use a proven hull and incorporate owner requirements into it,” Edgar said in an interview Thursday with WorkBoat. Jensen designers use a modular approach, accommodating different engine and generator packages and altering deck layouts in accordance with winch and machinery requirements, he said.

The Foss Z-Drive tugs are being built to meet the Coast Guard Subchapter M regulatory standards, with ABS loadline certification, and UWILD notation.

The vessels will be equipped with two MTU series 4000 main engines, Rolls-Royce US255 azimuth thrusters and Markey winches. The vessels will also be equipped with advanced condition-based monitoring for the Z-drives and main engines. Jensen also designed the tugs with some of the most advanced safety features in the industry, including a single 900 GPM fire pump and monitors, which will be powered from an on-board generator.

Representatives of Foss Maritime and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders celebrated laying the keel of a new ASD 90 tug Feb. 25, 2019. Foss Maritime photo.

Representatives of Foss Maritime and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders celebrated laying the keel of a new ASD 90 tug Feb. 25, 2019. Foss Maritime photo.

The tugs will be multi-functional to include ship assist and escort capabilities as well as towing, operating on the U.S. West Coast to perform ship-handling duties within ports and harbors. Delivery of the first four vessels will begin in winter 2020.

“Foss is celebrating our 130th anniversary this year, and I can’t think of a better way to kick off our 130 years than by laying the keel of our next generation of harbor tugs,” said Parrott. “These new vessels will not just expand our fleet, but will add new vitality with the latest innovative technology…These new vessels will not only enhance our own fleet, but will set the standard for our entire industry.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.