Propulsion System Alternative for Southern Towing Newbuilds

By George Backwell at June 16, 2012 08:30
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Mississippi River and Gulf intracoastal barge operators Southern Towing Company informs they are having four push-boats (designed by Ed Shearer & Associates) built at Alabama’s Steiner Shipyard in Bayou La Batre; vessels that will have an unusual propulsion system installed when the first of them is delivered by year’s end.

Southern Towing Push-Boat: Photo courtesy of Southern Towing

The first two 100-ft push-boats will be equipped with hydraulically operated Z-drive propulsion units powered by two MTU 8V 4000 M23S engines running at a constant speed.

In this design, unusual on the U.S. inland waterways, the propulsion engines run at a constant 1,800 rpm, while the hydraulic propulsion unit provides fully proportional speed control to a fixed-pitch propeller in a 360-degree azimuth Z-drive. An advantage is that the 1,234 bhp engines will also be powering generators to supply hotel loads on the boats, eliminating the cost of separate generator sets.

The other two, larger push-boats (120-ft in length) will have 12V versions of the same MTU 4000 Series engines, rated to produce 1,851 bhp at 1,800 rpm. Southern Towing will utilise 1,600 bhp at 1,800 rpm for this specific application. These larger vessels will be equipped with a one-meter drive shaft connected to a mechanical 360-degree azimuth Z-drive.

Southern Towing is additionally going to re-power two other of the existing push-boats in its fleet with engines from the same manufacturer; MTU 12V 4000 M53 engines will be installed to replace 2-cycle medium-speed engines in order to improve on overall fleet fuel efficiency and emissions. All of this is good news for main engine suppliers Tognum MTU, bumping up the engine order to a total twelve units of its 4000 Series marine diesel engines for the six boats concerned.

The MTU Series 4000 was developed by MTU and Detroit Diesel from the late 1980’s and production began in April 1997. The third generation of the engine is available as 8V-, 12V-, 16V- and 20V-cylinder configuration. As part of its innovative technology, the MTU Series 4000 uses the latest common rail injection system. Fuel efficiency, reliability and eco friendliness are some of the advantages that commended this engine to Southern Towing for their new vessels.

Tognum MTU Series 4000 Diesel Engine: Photo courtesy of Tognum

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