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Seaspan converting TOTE Orca-class ships to LNG

Mar 13, 2018 10:23 AM

Courtesy Seaspan Shipyards

(VICTORIA, British Columbia) — Seaspan Shipyards has demonstrated its capabilities with liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessel engine conversions in the wake of a major project milestone.

Victoria Shipyards (VSL) was selected by TOTE Maritime Alaska to carry out the yard production work and docking necessary for the conversion of its two Orca-class vessels to dual-fuel systems, a process which is being carried out in four phases and will enable the two ships to use LNG as fuel.

North Star, the first of the two 839-foot-, roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) cargo ships which carry cargo between Anchorage, Alaska, and Tacoma, Wash., arrived at VSL in December, kicking off the process of converting the diesel engines to dual-fuel systems.

The first of the two vessels slated for conversion, North Star has now completed a 60-day visit to the shipyard, which along with Midnight Sun will provide employment for 300 to 400 people working six days a week. Following its recent stay, it returned to Alaska, marking the first voyage outfitted with two new LNG tanks.

Over the next four years, three more conversion periods will be required to finalize the transition of 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 the first quarter of 2021.

“Phase one of the first major LNG conversion in North America on a full-sized vessel has now been successfully completed,” said Joe O’Rourke, vice president and general manager of VSL. “We plan to continue to build our reputation as an industry expert for all LNG-related work on the West Coast. And we express our thanks to TOTE and their entire team in placing their trust with VSL on this first-in-kind project.”

One of the key components behind TOTE’s decision to retrofit the vessels to LNG was to reduce the most harmful emissions that result from burning diesel. Retrofitted engines will meet and exceed all new emission standards and new components will extend the vessels’ working lives.

TOTE Maritime was the first maritime shipping company in the world to announce its intention to convert its fleet, enabling the engines to use both LNG and diesel.

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