Tug masters may get trained by a little BRAtt
The subject of training tug crews is one that frequently crops up at conferences, towage association meetings and around boardroom tables. Operators with tugs operated by just two or three persons have very little opportunity to train crew members from scratch without creating supernumerary posts for training purposes. The traditional route of promotion through the ranks has become much more difficult. Using full size, expensive tugs for training new operators is inefficient, expensive, and exposes those vessels to significant risk of damage. Current options include the employment of highly skilled ‘training captains’ to carry out intensive training programe, and increasingly the use of realistic computer based simulators.
Vancouver based Robert Allan Ltd, in collaboration with Burchett Marine Inc, have joined forces to propose a unique solution in the form of a small scale, fully manned training tugboat which could ultimately be fitted with a variety of alternative propulsion systems, thus also qualifying as a legitimate test platform for proving unique new power supply technologies.
For a number of years the Principals of Robert Allan Ltd and Burchett Marine Inc have been discussing the potential for designing and building a lower cost, ‘drivable’ scale model tug to use as a training vessel. This boat would have to be large enough to be very realistic and fully safe in all training operations, large enough to have real time response actions, be powerful enough to perform some ‘real work’ where the situation warrants, be fully Class certifiable if required, and be small enough to be road transportable.
The result of those deliberations is the ‘BURCHETT-ROBERT ALLAN training tug’, hence the BRAtt. The standard vessel is currently at an advanced stage of design development and will measure 7.80m in length with a beam of 3.60m. A representative ASD hull form will be used, with twin fully azimuthing ‘z-drives’. Initially the tug will be offered with a diesel power plant generating a total of 236 kW (316bhp). Other principle features include all-welded aluminum construction, a fully operable forward winch and all round resilient fendering.
The vessel will provide a relatively low cost option that would avoid tying up full size vessels for training purposes and the associated risk of damage. With an intensive, effective, skills based program potential tug masters can be trained much faster, more effectively and at reduced cost. In many cases the little tug can be utilized for minor towage and harbour work, resulting in some cost recovery.
The introduction of the first little BRAtt is rapidly becoming a reality. The first vessels will be built in British Columbia. A nominated ‘licensee’ builder has been identified for the North American market and a ‘kit’ option is envisaged for the overseas market. In time it is likely that the BRAtt will also be used as a platform to demonstrate emerging power source technologies such as hybrid propulsion systems and fuel cell technology.