MTS Towage transforms heavy lift

Mon, 07 December 2015

'MTS Vengeance' assisting the barge 'Terra Marique' (MTS Group)

Falmouth based Marine and Towage Services Group (MTS) along with specialist shipper Robert Wynn & Sons Ltd have completed the delivery of nine transformers in three shipments from Rotterdam to Scotland.

European coastal tows involving barges transporting outsized and other specialist loads are not a new phenomenon in the towage industry but news on what may be otherwise considered just another such operation provides the opportunity to take a look at the unique specialist barge Terra Marique belonging to Robert Wynn.

MTS owns a diverse fleet of over twenty vessels from pilot boats, to crew transfer vessels to Damen Shoalbuster tugs and have a long-term contract with Robert Wynn which will see the 1988 built 30tbp MTS Vengeance support Terra Marique for a number of charters in UK and European waters including the tows in question.

The contract involved delivery of nine transformers in three shipments from Rotterdam to an onshore convertor station at Hunterston on Scotland’s West Coast. The transformers are part of National Grid and ScottishPower Transmission’s £1bn Western Link project involving a 385km subsea cable bringing renewable energy from Scotland to England. The largest transformers were 325 tonnes, the entire consignment weighing in at 2,500 tonnes.

Many of the world’s transformer manufacturing facilities are in mainland Europe and those destined for sites in the UK present a logistical challenge involving both land and sea transport. There are practical advantages in maximising the length of journey carried out on water and it is this particular area which 1863 established Robert Wynn along with MTS are providing for.

Terra Marique has a high level or versatility to provide the answer to a number of different transportation scenarios. The vessel is an 80m long towed sea-going barge built to handle abnormal indivisible loads of up to 1,350 tonnes. A variety of loading methods are available including by crane, from specialised trailers using conventional roro or from inland barges using its integral semi-submersible capability. A variety of off-loading options are possible via existing infrastructure, riverbanks or through beach landing.

For the three voyages in question MTS Vengeance towed the Terra Marique from Rotterdam to Hunterston via the UK south coast and English Channel and MTS were able to give Richard Wynn time to plan the complex loading and offloading operation.

John Parslow, Managing Director, MTS Group said: “The value of an asset such as a transformer to a subsea cabling project of this nature cannot be understated, since it forms an essential part of the onshore transmission infrastructure required to transfer power to and from the grid. That’s why timely, safe transportation is absolutely critical and requires not only the right vessel for the job, but also the expertise and skill of an experienced vessel operator.”  

 By Peter Barker

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