-   Oceanic

She is one of the best known deep sea tugs in Germany. She even earned herself a good name internationally. She is built by many model makers. Models are available as kits from a number of companies. I am talking about that grand old lady, OCEANIC. She was built for and managed by "Bugsier-, Reederei- und Bergungsgesellschaft m.b.H.&Co.KG". Despite her being more than 35 years old, she is still employed in the trade she was built for. The following tells her story.


-   Development

Salvage work made up a large part of the earnings of deep sea and salvage tugs until the 1960s. Therefore the power of the tugs developed according to the size of the ships. Oil transport from the Arabian Gulf to Europe, through the Suez Canal, was carried out by oil tankers of up to 30.000 tonnes dead weight until the late 1950s. The Suez Canal was closed for the first time in 1956 and shipping was forced to go around Africa on a route which is about 5,000 nm longer. The size of ships grew rapidly to make up for the higher costs. By the time the Suez Canal had closed a second time in 1967, the load capacity of tankers had grown to more than 200,000 tdw. The "Bugsier-, Reederei- und Bergungsgesellschaft m.b.H.&Co.KG" had already reacted to this development when their tug the PACIFIC, with 72 tonnes bollard pull (tbp), entered service in 1963. In 1967 Bugsier ordered two more tugs, the OCEANIC and the ARCTIC, with more than twice the bollard pull, in anticipation of the ongoing increase of load capacity (470,000 tdw was exceeded in 1973) as well as in the offshore business.

-   History

Both tugs were built at the F.Schichau GmbH shipyard in Bremerhaven. The OCEANIC was handed to Bugsier Reederei on 6 June 1969 and the ARCTIC on 30 December 1969. The hulls of these tugs were optimised, during costly tank tests, for use as salvage tugs in bad weather conditions. When built, both tugs were the strongest and largest in the world, with a volume of 2.294 gross tons (grt) and 150 tonnes bollard pull (tbp). This changed when Smit International brought the SMIT ROTTERDAM into service. Schichau reworked the tugs with fixed nozzles in 1975, increasing the bollard pull to 160 tonnes. The main engines had run for 80,000 hours by 1985 and were needing increasing maintenance. Bugsier decided to equip the tugs with new engines instead of building new tugs, as the tugs were in good condition otherwise. In consideration of the decreasing towing business this seemed the more economic solution. The increased bollard pull of 189 tonnes required a larger diameter towing wire and a strengtheed towing winch. Offshore supply ships slowly developed into multifunctional vessels with a towing ability that had to be considered. Looking at the German offshore vessels, 100 tbp was reached at the end of the 1970s. The same was true for the fleets of the oil-producing countries. German and Dutch tugs had dominated the offshore towing business for a long time. Now that offshore supply vessels entered the towing market, the prices fell. Some of the oil-producing countries helped this development by requesting not to use foreign tugs except when their own vessels were not available. The salvage business has decreased rapidly, to some extent because of the technical development of ships. Tugs waiting on station for salvage jobs are no longer justified for economical reasons. From 1987 to 1990, the ARCTIC and OCEANIC were laid-up for increasing periods between jobs and were finally mothballed in 1990. ARCTIC was sold in 1993 and rebuilt as a luxury yacht. OCEANIC returned to service in 1996 and is on charter to the Federal Republic of Germany as "Emergency Towing Vessel North Sea". However, she is running out of time and a tender for a new "Emergency Towing Vessel North Sea" is expected in 2006. Then the life of the OCEANIC will end around 2007-2008, as she might be unable to fulfil the requirements of the specification.

-   Operations

Both tugs were on salvage station in Kapstadt between towing jobs. A number of salvages were made during this time. A special job for ARCTIC was the refloating of the cruise vessel LINDBLAD EXPLORER which ran aground on King George Island in the depths of the Antarctic. Two fully laden tankers, the ATLANTIK EMPRESS (292,666 tdw) and the AEGEAN CAPTAIN (210,257 tdw) collided 10 nm off Tobago in July 1979 and burst into flames. The fire on the forecastle of AEGEAN CAPTAIN was put out. OCEANIC towed the tanker with its load to Curacao were it was handed back to the owners. The ATLANTIK EMPRESS burned out completely and 29 crew members lost their lives. The ATLANTIK EMPRESS was lost despite the utilisation of four salvage tugs from Bugsier and Smit. These four tugs were able to tow the damaged ship 300 nm from the coast, preventing catastrophic pollution of the beaches. Both OCEANIC and ARCTIC, were employed in the offshore towing business too. Here are some examples:

- ARCTIC towed the drilling platform ILE DE FRANCE from Madagaskar to Gabun in 1972.
- OCEANIC and ARCTIC took part with other tugs in the towage of Condeep-platforms like CORMORANT A (1977, 400,000 tonnes), STATFJORD C (1984, 760,000 tonnes) and EKOFISK PROTECTIVE BARRIER (1989).
- OCEANIC made three towing voyages from Japan to Europe with the drilling platform HENRY GOODRICH (1985), the crane ship DLB102 (helped by ARCTIC in 1986) and the drilling platform DYVI ALPHA following the installation of new motors.

As an Emergency Towing Vessel for the German authorities, OCEANIC made a number of salvages, some of which were: 60,000 tdw bulk carrier RUBY XL off Terschelling (1998), 44,000 tdw bulk carrier LUCKY FORTUNE in gale-force wind 9 nm west of Sylt, 25,700 tdw ALIANCA SAO PAOLO in the mouth of the river Elbe.

-   Specification

Classification: GL-100 A4 E3 tug (Construction exceeding GL-requirements by at least 30%) Length o.a.: 87,58 m; length between perpendiculars (Lpp): 78,00 m; breadth moulded: 14,35 m; max breadth: 14,95 m Draught (at mid Lpp): 6.31 m; max. draught (aft): 7.30m; depth (at mid Lpp): 7.30 m Volume: 2,294 gross tons, displacement: appr.. 5,000 tonnes
Main Engines 1969 : 2 x 16 zyl. K.H.D. Diesel motors Typ RBV 16M 540 of 6,405 bhp each
Main Engines 1985 : 2 x 12 zyl. K.H.D. Diesel motors Typ SBV 12M 640 of 6,600 bhp each
Propeller: 2 x Zeise-Liaanen controllable-pitch propellers
Bow Thruster: 600 hp with 6.5 tonnes thrust, Rudders: 1 rudder; when Kort nozzles were fitted one additional rudder was fitted behind each propeller.
Bollard Pull 1969: 150 tonnes
Bollard Pull 1985: 189 tonnes,
Bollard Pull 2005: 178 tonnes,
Speed when built: 20.5 kts, Speed 2005: 17 kts Fuel tanks: 1,400 tonnes, Range: appr. 20,000 nm, Purification of drinking water: 15 tonnes/day
Crew of 26 to 28 men when in towing and salvage business, crew of 13 with an additional boarding team of 4 men as Emergency Towing Vessel since 1996.
Towing winches: friction type with 2 x 2,000 m steel wire of 61 mm diameter (1969), After 1985: 2 x 1.800 m steel wire of 68 mm diameter
Towing winches: 2 x 80 tonnes brake force,
Anchor winch and mooring capstans: 2 x 40 tonnes brake force
Boats: 2 motorized work boats, 1 rigid inflatable MOB boat (Man Over Board boat) Fire fighting equipment: 3 fire monitors with a total capacity of 700 m³/hr; Searchlights: 2 x 3,000 Watts Loading gear: 1 boom with 15/20 t capacity, 4 booms with 3 t capacity. 1985 replaced with a 3 t hydraulic crane
Equipped as salvage tug with fully equipped workshops


Mordhorst: Schlepper / Havarie / Versorger auf See
Schnake: Geschichte der Schleppschifffahrt, Bugsier Reederei
Clasen: Durch Sturm, Feuer und Eis / Zwischen Tropen und Eismeer
Schwabedissen: Gestrandet, Schiffsunglücke vor der Nordseeküste
de Haas: Zeeslepen onder de driekleur, 1945 - 1980

For photos in higher resolution please click the thumbnails!

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at Cuxhaven deckshouse starbord-side
downfall port-side port-side bridgewing
capstan view aft
helmstand facing aft helmstand bridge
view to helmstand with stern mast fore mast
starbord anchor working boat
port-side working forecastle deck with anchorwinch
view to maindeck liferafts
FiFi-monitor engineroom
downfall from forecastle deck Norman Pins
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