Towboat readiness raised at Sture

November 21, 2005, 09:00 CET

Drawing from recent experience of vessel breakdowns, the Sture oil terminal in western Norway and its partner Østensjø Rederi have upgraded towing equipment on the terminal's towboats.

The equipment upgrade will better enable the Sture towboats to tackle emergency coastal incidents. The most recent test for the towboats took place when the Sture support vessel Ajax saved the fully-laden gas tanker Marte from running aground when the vessel came adrift off Hordaland in September 2004.

"The towboat upgrade will put the Sture vessels into the top class for harbor and terminal vessels. In addition, the three vessels - which are based at the Sture terminal - carry permanent oil-spill protection and clean-up equipment on board," says terminal manager Gunnar Gundersen.

"Time is generally critical, and the vessels can be deployed directly without having to fetch equipment stored onshore. The Sture terminal also has substantial quantities of modern equipment stored onshore. Very few other terminals in other countries have similar equipment; the towing equipment and oil-spill clean-up gear are from 2000 or later," he points out.

A significant feature of the Sture towboats is that they are included in the total oil-spill clean-up contingency for the area. Sture and the nearby Mongstad terminal comprise North Europe's largest oil shipping harbor after Rotterdam – and emergency readiness is correspondingly crucial.

Simulator training

Furthermore, an agreement has been entered into with the Ship Manoeuvring Simulator Centre (SMSC) in Trondheim for the training of towboat crews. The center will model the marine approach to Sture with a docking facility and the towboat Velox.

"The plan is to start joint training with the Coast Guard after the New Year. The pilots will be able to train on a tanker bridge simulator, while the towboat captains operate escort vessels."

The reason for using the simulator is to train for difficult situations without risk to crews and vessels, and to sharpen realistic reaction patterns.

In brief

The emergency preparedness upgrade consists of

  • improving towboat escort
  • oil-spill booms on board towboats
  • requirement for double-hull tankers
  • escort simulator training