DISCOVER Magazine #6

Reversed Stern Drive Tug 2513. The ultimate ship-handling tool

Published in category: Harbour & Terminal
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Innovation is a theme that runs throughout this edition of the Damen Magazine and the story of the Revesed Stern Drive Tug(RSD) 2513 fits perfectly with this. For Tugs Product Manager Dirk Degroote, innovation is an essential ingredient in any company’s bid to maintain relevancy in a changing world.

“There are countless examples of brilliant companies who, despite a long track-record of excellent performance, find themselves getting left behind.”

It’s not hard to understand complacency setting in; if a product has proven itself over time and generated sustained demand, the temptation to keep doing more of the same is natural.

A tug for a changing world

But a shift is taking place. Competition is advancing, prices are under heavy pressure and demands for increased safety and sustainability are ever-rising. Such a scenario demands action.

“If we don’t want to end up consigned to the history books, we have to strive to improve, to keep ahead of the competition. That’s why we developed the Reversed Stern Drive Tug – the ultimate dedicated ship-handling tug for the years to come.”

Reversed Stern Drive Tug 2513 view

Innovation through collaboration

The key to the development of the RSD Tug was to come up with an answer for the challenges our customers were faced with; flexibility, efficient operations, high power in compact vessels, and this all in a safer way than ever before. This required open minds, discussions with the industry, from suppliers, through research institutes to customers and actual users. The result is a true innovation, featuring future-proof characteristics that run throughout the design, build and operation of the vessel.

Getting you home

Designing a tug for the future means designing a vessel with a strong focus on safety – an overriding concern for Damen during the development of the RSD Tug 2513, as Dirk explains.

We wanted to do everything in our power to make sure both the assisted vessel and the crew of the tugs come home safely.

The very concept behind the RSD Tug goes some considerable way to achieving this – equipped, essentially, with two bows, the vessel is always operating bow first. As a result, it can operate optimally both as a bow assisting tug as well as operating as a stern assisting tug. Next to that, operators are not required to reposition the vessel when working in either direct or indirect mode. The two bow concept leads to increased opportunities at the design stage to further improve safety, as Dirk explains:

“Because the tug always sails bow first, we have been able to create a higher freeboard than would normally feature on a tug of that size. This means that there is never water on deck and that seakeeping will be better than on a similar sized conventional ASD Tug – it’s an important step in adding stability to the vessel.”

Reversed Stern Drive Tug 2513 - the ultimate ship-handling tool

Seeing to safety

The focus on safety goes beyond the drawing board, however. The build process of the RSD Tug also pays close attention to safety via selected components and equipment. A good example is the newly-developed Damen Safety Glass. Developed together with a customer, based on actual experiences in the field and accompanied by extensive testing at TÜV Rheinland, the glass comprises two layered panes with a foil between them.

“The glass is shatterproof, similar to that used in cars. It’s a simple move, but an important one. And, combined with a wheelhouse that has been developed to offer the maximum possible view of what’s happening on deck and beyond, it represents a huge step forward in crew protection.”

Reversed Stern Drive Tug 2513 Damen Safety Glass wheelhouse

The attention paid to safety at the design and construction phase naturally leads to increased safety also in operations. For example, the inclusion of the patented Damen Twin Fin skeg makes the tug very predictable when sailing in front of a vessel.

“The Twin Fin was extensively model-tested at MARIN (the Netherlands Maritime Research Institute),” states Dirk. “It works perfectly and is actually required on a relatively wide, compact vessel such as this. The predictability it provides means that the Master can focus entirely on assisting the vessel and on manoeuvring – he doesn’t have to think about what the tug might do as it simply follows his hands. This represents an increase in both safety and efficiency.”

Increased efficiency

There’s a natural connection between the RSD Tug’s safety credentials and improved efficiency characteristics generally. For example, Damen has designed a deck layout to be spacious and uncluttered, minimising the chance of accidents and ensuring a smooth, efficient workflow, via, for example, the abundance of free space around the winch – which was developed in-house by Damen Winch Technology and built by Damen Marine Components (DMC). DMC demonstrated its capabilities in this field with the construction of the Render Recovery Winch and is now extending its portfolio.

Reversed Stern Drive Tug 2513 Winch Technology

Such ergonomic planning is also to be found in the interfacing between the Captain and the equipment – based upon successes in the automotive industry and from direct feedback that Damen has gathered from owners and operators.

“Based on this, we now have a much clearer, less cluttered console. Relevant information is presented on two screens – one featuring navigational data, the other mechanical data – fed by the Class approved redundant AMCS system.”

For the end user, all of this improved efficiency equals more earning potential, Dirk stresses.

“The quicker a tug can handle a vessel, the more money a port can make. The functionality of the RSD Tug is the perfect solution for speeding up an operation and improving the performance of the logistics chain.”

Sailing towards a cleaner future

Ultimately, increased efficiency also equals improved sustainability; the RSD Tug’s efficiency makes for significantly reduced emissions. To further enhance this, Damen has developed an exhaust gas after treatment system – a Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR). The RSD Tug will be IMO Tier II compliant as standard and IMO Tier III compliant as an option, independently on the stage of build, even retrofit will be easy of this RSD.

“This gives the vessel a degree of future-proofing. When Tier III comes into force, an RSD Tug will only require a simple upgrade without major modification,” says Dirk.

Reversed Stern Drive Tug 2513 - the ultimate ship-handling tool

Combining innovation with heritage and proven values

Of course, these innovations are all well and good, but it’s crucially important that new things are not introduced at the expense of the quality associated with the old ways. In addition to improving safety, efficiency and sustainability throughout the design, build and operation of the RSD Tug 2513, Damen has also paid close attention to ensuring the reliability of the new vessel.

“Throughout the entire process, as designer, builder and integrator, we can offer added value. As an example of this, for the RSD Tug we have developed in-house the main electrical system. We have used a PRAXIS automation system already for many years. Now, we will be able to simply plug into Damen’s cloud-based system to enable better fleet monitoring, remotely.”

This, which places Damen at the forefront of technical development, means that owners can have the same dashboard onshore as at sea, via their smart phone or other device. This is the perfect foundation for remote monitoring applications, providing as it does a sure footing for the flow of information, which can make it easier to perform analyses.

“As a result, Damen can offer better support to its clients. For example, a Service Engineer on board can call the designer of the system, or we can log into the system and directly assist the Chief Engineer.

“The system is virtually in real time, so an owner can see exactly what is happening, making sure they have sufficient fuel, that their crew are taking proper rest breaks, what position their vessels are in and when maintenance may be required. Dedicated information can be presented to designated persons on a ‘need to know’ basis for utmost efficiency.”

Connecting innovation with success

“The RSD Tug series isn’t innovation for innovation’s sake – it’s an acknowledgement of shifts in industry, based on feedback from experts and paired with the proven techniques that Damen has developed over many years. It’s a winning combination, the likes of which will guarantee Damen’s continued relevance – and that of its clients – for the coming generation.”

Reversed Stern Drive Tug 2513 design side view

European flag Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme
The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 636146. This output reflects the views only of the author(s), and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained herein.
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