August 12, 2004

Ocean Tug & Barge expands, launches new AT/B design

Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering, which has had a hand in either the design or refit engineering of over half of the AT/B's (articulated tug/barges) operational in the United States, has announced a major expansion with the opening of a new branch office in Mobile, Alabama. It has also announced introduction of a new series of "Costwise" AT/B's.

The new Mobile office will support the firm’s main office in Milford, Mass., with drafting and lofting services, and will provide tug and barge drafting/design services for both existing and new clients.

"Our aim is to expand our current presence in the tug and barge design market in the Gulf, to bring aboard new clients, and to expand our operation to allow us to be more responsive to current client needs and schedules than we have been able to be in the past with our original, smaller staff," said OT&BE president Robert Hill. "Having this Gulf office will also improve our ability to support shipyards that build our designs. It was time to grow,", added Hill.

The firm is also adding engineers to its Milford office, and leasing more space in its current locatione.

The firm is a full-service marine design firm, involved in new vessel design for all types of tugs and barges, connection system refit to existing tugs and barges, repowers, double hull refits for tank barges, economic studies, concept design, and detailed contract design.

Concurrent with its expansion, the firm is announcing the launch of a new "COSTWISE AT/B" series of AT/B designs.

It is described as "an advancement in the art of tug and barge design based on the firm’s long experience and highly successful specialization in this market."

The Costwise AT/B has been developed in association with CT Marine, of Edgecomb Maine, and Taisei Engineering of Tokyo, Japan.

The new AT/B’s are targeted to attain higher unit speeds at sea, even better maneuverability, and improvements in constructability, habitability and ergonomics.

Unlike designs focused ono the U.S. market, the Costwise AT/Bs will be designed to be adaptable as well to a broader, worldwide market, while still meeting the unique design requirements of the U.S. market.

The new line of designs are also adaptable to a full range of connection systems (Intercon, Bludworth/FPS, Articouple, JAK, and PushPin). The range of available dwt capacities goes from 4,000 to 55,000 DWT, and speeds up to 14 knots in some vessel types.

The designs for companion tugs cover a size range from 85 to 165 feet, horsepowers from 2,400 to 18,000, featuring tug designs/engine packages that operate not only on No.2 diesel fuel, but also specially adapted tug designs to operate on heavier fuels such as IFO 180 and 380. The tugs will retain the full ability to tow if required.

The effort is designed to bring the speeds and fuel economics of tug/barge units ever closer to that of equivalent sized ships.

New hull shapes have been developed on both tug and barge, to optimize the units for higher speeds.

"The wider acceptance of the AT/B in the international marketplace was a driving force, as well as increased fuel prices", said Hill in explaining the decision to move forward with development.

"Our experience is that conventional unit design created a pretty substantial resistance penalty, born of the effort to marry conventional forms with improved pushing methods. In taking all we’ve learned over the years collectively, we started new with a clean sheet of paper and focused solely on pushing."

The design team claims to have, collectively, the longest and widest range of experience in AT/B and ocean tug and barge design available anywhere in the world, with nearly 100 man-years of AT/B experience to be found in the principals alone.

The first vessels in the class to be built, will be a multi-vessel program to be based not in the United States, but overseas.

Model testing on this Articouple-equipped unit has begun and a formal announcement to the industry on the project is expected soon from the owners.

At the same time, Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering will be announcing the addition of two more strategic engineering partners in the COSTWISE TM project.

Agreements in place for the new series of AT/B’s will initially cover the petroleum transport, chemical, Ro/Ro, container, and LNG/CNG markets; and connection systems by Intercon, Articouple, JAK and Bludworth.

Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering Corp., was founded in 1993, and its principal, Robert Hill, is the co-inventor of the proprietary Intercon connection system, and has over 24 years experience in AT/B design.

CT Marine is headed by Corning Townsend, a naval architect with over 35 years experience in the ocean tug, river towboat, and ocean barge design and model testing field. Townsend has acted as principal designer for many of OT&BE’s AT/B ocean barge projects.

Taisei Engineering is headed by Mr. T. Yamaguchi, who not only has over 40 years ATB tug and barge consulting experience, but also invented the Articouple connection system, which is the most widely applied system in use today.


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