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TOTE completes first phase of Orca class LNG conversion plan

Written by Nick Blenkey
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North Star is now equipped with two LNG tanks immediately behind the bridge

FEBRUARY 27, 2018 — TOTE Maritime Alaska has completed the first of four conversion periods that will see its two Orca class vessels equipped to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel.

TOTE Maritime’s North Star arrived in Anchorage Sunday, completing her first voyage after a visit to Canada’s Victoria Shipyards that saw her outfitted with two LNG tanks immediately behind the bridge.

In addition to the LNG tanks and accompanying infrastructure, the ship received critical engine updates necessary to utilize LNG as a fuel and underwent a standard regulatory dry-docking.

This conversion will drastically reduce air emissions from TOTE Maritime’s Alaska ships, virtually eliminating sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter while drastically reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide. Reduced emissions will result in a healthier environment for Tacoma, WA, Puget Sound and Anchorage, AK, the communities in which TOTE Maritime operates.

“We are excited to be the first shipping company in the United States to undertake this important environmental effort” noted Mike Noone, President of TOTE Maritime Alaska. “And we are appreciative of our customers and partners who support our ongoing effort to innovate in ways that reflect our commitment to the environment and communities we serve.”

Three more conversion periods will be required to finalize the transition of both TOTE Maritime Alaska’s vessels to LNG. Each of these conversion periods will take place in the winter to minimize the impact to customers and consumers alike. The conversion of both ships is scheduled to be complete in first quarter 2021.

Both Orca class RO/RO vessels, the North Star and Midnight Sun, were constructed by NASSCO at its San Diego shipyard and were commissioned in 2003. Currently is each powered by four MAN 58/64 engines that will be retrofitted to MAN 58/64 retrofit units under a contract with MAN PrimeServ – MAN Diesel & Turbo’s after-sales division – that includes the design, development and testing of a first-of-its-kind dual-fuel kit,

Dr. Thomas Spindler, Head of Upgrades & Retrofits at MAN PrimeServ Augsburg, explained: “To meet TOTE’s requirements, we have developed a solution based on our well-proven 51/60DF retrofit. Accordingly, the engineering approach to the 58/64 retrofit is very familiar to us, and this project represents a straightforward conversion procedure.”

Spindler added: “The investment will be of huge benefit to the customer on several fronts: not only will the retrofitted engines meet all new emission standards; the new components they receive during conversion will significantly extend their working life.”

“We have been investigating and testing many options for shifting the fleet to LNG. The conversion of the existing engines is the most reliable and beneficial solution” said Peter Keller, Executive Vice President of TOTE. “This innovative solution that has been developed in partnership with MAN, will be an important milestone for the industry as we all prepare for the IMO sulfur cap in 2020.”

TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, another TOTE company, is notable for ordering the world’s first LNG-fueled containerships, the isla Bella and Perla del Caribe, launched by NASSCO in 2015 and both featuring single MAN B&W 8L70ME-GI engines.

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