“We don’t usually remove the heads at mid-life on the Cummins engines,” Randy Beckler, Shore Engineer for Seaspan Marine, explained in reference to the 2003 launched Seaspan Venture’s third like-for-like repower.
The repower was completed in the first week of February 2016. The Seaspan Venture, like her sister the Seaspan Tempest, had a pair of Cummins KTA38 M0 engines when new builds. These engines were changed out at over 40,000 hours. In 2016, the second set of engines had around 42,000 hours. “We do what we call a top end job on them at 15,000 hours,” Beckler said, “We just change the injectors, refurbish the after cooling and address any water leaks, but we don’t change the heads. We do the same overhaul again at 30,000 hours.”
The decision was made to install the third set of KTA38 M0 engines, delivering 850 HP each at 1,800 RPM, in the Seaspan Venture at 42,000 hours, as the tug was due for its quadrennial inspection by Transport Canada. This involves pulling the tug out of the water for tail shaft and sea valve inspections. “We try to do everything at once when we have the boat out,” Beckler said, “we could have probably run the engines for another year but this was a good time to make the change.”
These two boats have been very popular with their crews. The hulls were built to order in China, shipped to Canada by barge, and finished up at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyard. There was a lot of input from operators in the functional design. At the time they were a new generation of tug with a fine, longer, double-chined hull. The 64- by 23-foot hull has a molded depth held to 10.4-feet to facilitate working some of the shallower areas of the lower Fraser River while providing good water flow to the propellers. This fine hull form, combined with a smooth "slipper" stern reduced the wake wash and lessoned the need for the tug to make a "slow-bell" past riverside moorings.
The boats tow the big boxy wood chip scows, so they were designed so that the aft bulwarks are the same height as the deck of a loaded chip barge while the bow matches the height of an empty barge. This improves the safety of crews getting on and off both empty and loaded barges. Bulwarks are set two feet back from the hull side to further ease the safety of crew moving between barge and boat.
After nearly 14 years of daily use on the Fraser River the two tugs have proven the effectiveness of the design. And now, with a new set of engines and other upgrades, the Seaspan Venture is ready to go back to barge towing for another 40,000 plus hours.