-   The Primus

At the end of the 1970s, sixteen deep sea tugs and eight anchor handling tugs (AHT's) had German owners . By 2003, only the OCEANIC, FAIRPLAY IX and FAIRPLAY XIV remained of this once impressive fleet. Bugsier's CARIBIC was the last big tug built new in 1977. All newly built tugs were classified for "restricted international service" (max. 200 nm from the coast) since then. So it was a great surprise when Harms Bergung Transport & Heavylift GmbH & Co. KG of Hamburg announced they would build a new deep sea tug in 2004.


-   Construction period

In 2002, MAN-Ferrostaal approached WorldWise Marine (former Wijsmuller Engineering) to provide a preliminary conceptual design (lines plan, general arrangement drawing, stability calculations etc.) based on a proven design, for a 100 tonnes tug, the first for the Suez Canal Authority. The basis for this design were the Wijsmuller tugs TYPHOON and TEMPEST of 1976. A contract was signed in December 2003, between Ferrostaal and Worldwise Marine regarding a second tug to the same design, the PRIMUS. The contract for the final design was awarded to Hitzler-Werft in Lauenburg/Elbe and the building contract to the Mützelfeldtwerft shipyard at Cuxhaven/Elbe both in February 2004. PRIMUS is owned by a ships-fond and chartered to Harms Bergung Transport & Heavylift GmbH & Co. KG. The 12 July 2004, the date of the keel laying, was a special day for the shipyard, as it was the first hull to be built in Cuxhaven for more than ten years. The 1,600 tonnes sheerlegs TAKLIFT 4 lifted the PRIMUS's hull into the water on 4 October 2004 and positioned the superstructure two days later. The christening ceremony took place on 4 December 2004. The PRIMUS was handed over to the owners according to the contract on 31 December 2004. Harms Bergung Transport & Heavylift GmbH & Co. KG had asked for bollard pull tests to be executed at Stavanger, Norway because of the normally favourable conditions there. But because of bad weather, the tests were delayed until mid January 2005. PRIMUS returned from Stavanger on 17 January 2005 after completing the tests successfully. The initial job for PRIMUS was in the first week of February 2005, when she towed the container feeder DETTIFOSS to Rotterdam for dry docking after DETTIFOSS lost her rudder on 28 January 2005.

-   Description

PRIMUS was designed as a conventional deep sea tug with two Wärtsilä 4D845 controllabe pitch propellers (cpp) in fixed Lips HR nozzles. There is one Becker high-performance flap rudder behind each propeller. Frame spacing of the hull is 600 mm. Hull plating varies from 12 to 16 mm with 30 mm on the keel and above the propellers. The two main engines are MaK 9M25s, using heavy fuel oil and delivering a maximum continuous output of 2,970 kW each at 750 rpm. The engines are coupled to the shafts at their aft ends through Reintges gearboxes. PRIMUS delivers a continuous bollard pull of 104 tonnes with a maximum of 108 tonnes at 110% engine output. Speed is 16.5 kts maximum with a fuel consumption of 26m³/24hr and 14 kts economical with a fuel consumption of 20m³/24hr. The tank capacity for heavy fuel oil is 475m³ and for diesel oil 227m³. The bow thruster is an electrically driven cpp Wärtsilä-Lips CT-125-H, with an output of 400 kW delivering a maximum thrust of 4.5 tonnes. Two Kumera fire pumps are fitted to the front end of the main engines and serve the fire monitors and self-drenching system. They have a capacity of 1,200m³/h each at 13 bar minimum. The system was supplied by Fire Fighting Systems A/S of Norway and is according to FiFi1 standard.

Forecastle Deck:

A Hatlapa anchor winch with warp heads on both sides is located here. The NAF-HHP-1195 anchors are of the high-holding-power type and have a weight of 1,260kg. They are fitted with 550m of 34 mm anchor chain. A spare anchor is carried on the main deck.


This deck is located directly beneath the forecastle deck. A six person, Zodiak RIBO 420, man over board boat(MOB boat)/workboat, with a 50hp outboard motor is located at the aft end on the starboard side. The boat has its own International Davit launching crane. On the port side, there is an Effer hydraulic crane type 65000-SL with a safe working load (swl.) of 5 tonnes at 12m reach. A grapnel for anchor handling is also located on the port side.

Main Deck:

This deck carries an electrically driven Hatlapa AH-1000 towing winch. The winch is of the waterfall type with two drums on the lower level. These are equipped with 300m of steel wire for anchor handling and 800m spare steel towing wire of 70mm diameter each. The single upper drum carries 1,200m of towing wire of the same dimensions. The winch has a pulling power of 100 tonnes at a speed of 15 m/min and 5 tonnes at 60 m/min. The winch provides a holding force of 250 tonnes. A steel frame is built around and above the towing winch, which can carry a container or a storage winch. In front of the winch is a large towing fairlead. The towing deck is protected by wooden sheeting and flanked by offshore-type cargo rails. Unobstructed deck area is 172m². Vents and other deck equipment are located between the bulwark and the cargo rail. Two tugger winches are located there too. They have a pulling power of 10 tonnes at 15 m/min each. There is a 250 tonnes swl. stern roller with a width of 3.00m and a diameter of 2.15m for anchor handling purposes. In front of the stern roller, Karmoy forks and pins ( see photographs) with 300 tonnes swl. are fitted as line and chain handling equipment.


The deck is located above the tweendeck and carries the wheelhouse. The controls are arranged in a desk type console against the full width of the forward bulkhead. A second control stand is at the aft of the wheelhouse, providing a good view of the winch area and the towing deck. The navigational equipment is state of the art. There are two Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA) radar systems supplied by SAM Electronics which include Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS). The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System is to Area 4 standards (GMDSS A4) and contains among other things an Inmersat-c satellite phone system, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and Search and Rescue Transponder (SART). On the roof of the wheelhouse (topdeck) are three remote controlled searchlights. Two life rafts for 20 persons each are located at the aft end of the bridge deck. Initially the J-Hook was located there too, but has been moved to the side of the towing fairlead.

Radar Platform:
The platform is located on the mast, above the top deck and carries the fire monitors.


PRIMUS has a regular crew of 10 persons. Accommodation is provided for 18 persons. On the main deck are four cabins for six persons together with a galley, mess room and a sick bay. The remainder of the accommodation is located on the tweendeck. The captain and chief engineer have private toilet and shower facilities. All accommodation is air conditioned.

-   Operations

PRIMUS was mainly employed in the European offshore business. She had a number of towing jobs too, for example the towages of barges from Arbatrax in Sardinia and of the 8,000 tonnes crane ship SVANEN from Malmö to Rotterdam. Additionally she towed a floating dock from Rotterdam to Poland. Between jobs she was moored in Cuxhaven and occasionally at Rotterdam. In December 2005 PRIMUS left for Mexico to begin a ten month charter with an option for extension.

-   Modifications and Particulars

PRIMUS has had some modifications; early in her life the decks being changed from red to green. Then in September 2005 the towing fairlead was reworked and the bulwark beside the stern roller lowered.

Main Dimensions:
Length o.a.: 48,87 m
Breadth o.a.: 13,80 m
Draught: 05,20 m
Depth: 07,00 m at half Length between perpendiculars (Lpp)
Design Draught: 06,20 m
Volume: 1.262 gross tons
Displacement: approx. 2.500 tonnes
Deadweight: approx. 1.000 tonnes

Lekko International,

For photos in higher resolution please click the thumbnails!

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Primus at the Parkkade in Rotterdam Deckshouse
Forecastle deck with anchor winch Aftdeck
Bowview of brigde and mast Effer-Crane
Portside of the deckshouse The HATLAPA-Anchorwinch
HATLAPA-Towingwinch HATLAPA-Tuggerwinch
The mast view from aft Grapnel
Brigde view from aft MOB-Boat with davit
Karmoy-Forks and Pins in... ....and out
FiFi-Monitor towing staple with winch
Smit Brackett J-Hook
Portside life raft stern roller
front steering console stern steering console
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