Ocean Yvan Desgagnes


Another in a long series of new 5,000-hp ASD tractor tugs is expected at Quebec City on the Saint Lawrence River this summer. This one, Ocean Ross Gaudreault, nearing completion this spring at the East Isle Shipyard, follows the recent delivery of a sistership, Ocean Yvan Desgagnes, from the same yard.

The new 5,000-hp ASD tractor Ocean Yvan Desgagnes and others belonging to Ocean Group of Quebec, Canada, work about half the year in often-difficult ice conditions on the Saint Lawrence River. (Jean Hammond photo)
 
These are ice-rated, cold-weather workhorses with towing winches, controllable-pitch propellers, firefighting and escort capabilities. They are joining the more than 20 tugs employed by Ocean Group Inc, based in Quebec, which operates throughout the length of the Saint Lawrence with ship-assist focus at the busy ports of Quebec City and Montreal. As of this writing, the company's fleet included 10 ASD tractor-style tugs ranging from 4,000 to 5,000 hp.
 
Ocean Group also occasionally introduces new tugs built at its own shipyard at L'Isle-aux-Coudres. These tugs tend to be smaller and slightly less powerful than those from the East Isle yard. The two newest tugs mentioned here are typical in that they come with an escort keel fitted forward of amidships and with ice protection devices mounted both forward and aft of the keel. Most recent tugs for this company also make use of controllable-pitch propellers.
 
Ocean Group was founded in Quebec City in 1987 by Gordon Bain, a former commercial diver and entrepreneur. He got into the business with acquisition of Quebec Tugs Ltd., and has expanded his company on a regular basis since then, usually in synch with steady growth at the ports of Quebec City and Montreal. The company expanded into Montreal in the 1990s with acquisition of McAllister Towing & Salvage. Numerous other acquisitions of small companies have also contributed to the steady expansion. More recently the company has expanded its operations further south into Lake Ontario. Ocean Group today employs more than 400 people with operations along much of the 1,000-mile length of the Saint Lawrence.
Here she helps maneuver the bulk freighter Stefania I into a winter berth. (Jean Hammond photo)
 
The company's latest tug is named after M. Ross Gaudreault, former CEO of the Port of Quebec, who retired at the end of last year.
 
Most recently Ocean Group has been involved in a pilot project to develop an iron mining operation, including transshipment of ore by barge and ship, on Canada's remote Baffin Island, the largest island within Canadian waters and located well above the Arctic Circle.
 
And looking to the future, Ocean Group has also made a partial commitment towards bringing the first "Rotor tug" design to North America as it recently purchased a design package and technical details for one of those innovative designs with an eye towards construction in 2012, according to its Dutch developer, KST BV.
 
Roughly 20 tugs with the Rotor tug design have been built by European operators over the past decade. The design incorporates three azimuthing drive units, two mounted forward and one aft.
 
The Rotor tug design said to be purchased by Ocean Group is 122 feet in length with three engines producing 7,500 hp and designed bollard pull of about 110 tons. The tug could have a light running speed of up to 15 knots which would make it well suited for tanker escort work, including LNG tankers, on the Saint Lawrence.