Pan-United Shipping a member of the Pan-United Group of Singapore manages and operates a number of ocean going tugs as well as bulk carriers and time charter out container ships for trading in the waters between the Arabian Gulf and South Africa to the west and east to China and Japan.
The company’s current towing fleet includes eight chartered tugs and four company owned boats. Two of these are new builds
in the last year. Following the success of those two vessels and their 10,000 tonne capacity barges, the firm has signed orders for two more tug and barge sets to be built in China. In the past the ABS certified ISO 9001 firm had purchased used equipment with a variety of engines but now, explains Executive Director Jimmy Lee, “We have moved to new build with high speed engines. We prefer these over slow speed engines for supplier maintenance and lower cost. They are also easier for day to day operation.”
As with the company’s previous new tugs, the two that are currently on order from a Guangdong province of China shipyards will be Cummins powered. These vessels will each have a pair of IMO-compliant Cummins KTA38-M2 main engines rated for 1200 HP continuous duty at 1800 RPM. The engines will be coupled with Reintjes Model WAF 562 gears with 5.95:1 ratios.
The ABS classed vessels are 30-meters overall with 9-meter beams and a molded depth of 4.1 meters. Accommodation is provided for a crew of 14 but they can operate with a crew of nine including a licensed engineer. Although the boats are registered in Singapore they will be crewed by Indonesians who have the local knowledge to navigate as much as 100 miles up rivers in Indonesian Borneo to load coal for shipment to the Philippines and Thailand.
Tows can be as much as 1500 miles each way and the new boats have been designed with full hulls carried out to the chine to accommodate 280 cubic meters of fuel capacity for a 30-day endurance. This allows them to select their bunkering locations for both price and quality considerations. The vessels will also have 50 cubic meters of fresh water tankage. Pan-United’s recently delivered Cummins KTA 50 powered tugs with 3200 hp make 8 knots towing a loaded 330-foot coal barge. The new 2400 hp tugs are expected to make an economical seven knots at their 1600 rpm towing speed.
For towboats, with the low freeboard and slow speeds towing in these waters, piracy is a real danger. To avoid them, Jimmy Lee BW explains, the crews are instructed to stay well off shore until they are directly opposite their destination. In one case when masked pirates in a speedboat approached a Pan-United tug the crew were able to foil the attack by slacking the tow and turning the tug’s bow onto the pirate’s craft.
The new boats will have a 30 tonne bollard pull and be fitted with towing hooks. At the crew’s request, towline will be 720 feet of 10-inch poly-nylon rope with 200 feet of short towing chain and chain bridles on the barge. Previously the boats have been fitted with towing wires that the crews find difficult to handle. The two ropes will last about one year before being replaced.
With the delivery of the new boats, the company’s fleet will consist of twelve tug and barge sets of which 50 percent will be owned and the balance chartered. Executive Director Lee explains that this is a desirable balance in the event that the market for coal transport should decline in the future.