AlphaBridge tugboat concept off to a flying start

After a careful study incorporating experienced tugboat operators like Svitzer, Smit and Kotug, a prototype of our customized AlphaBridge tugboat console was introduced to the world during Europort 2013. During this introduction the enormous amount of interest received was encouraging enough to take it to the next step with a production model.

The tugboat standardization concept is based upon minimal space usage on the bridge. This way the shipyard is able to design a wheelhouse as small as possible to increase visibility around the vessel. Due to the quantity of navigation and communication products required, additional overhead consoles are provided on both sides for the convenience of the captain. As well as increased reachability of the equipment, visibility is greatly improved for either maneuvering forward or aft.

Kotug and the revolutionary Rotortug was the first operator to emphasize on the importance of a more ergonomically designed wheelhouse layout in order to increase safety as well as standardizing the operation of their tugboats.

After continuous interaction with the captains of Kotug, a final version was engineered and resulted in a firm order which was received for not less than 6 Rotortugs designed by Robert Allan, a leading tugboat designer from Canada.

The captain should have the best achievable ergonomic working position at both fore and aft steering positions, a one man operable bridge system with all the controls in reach, maximum visibility, reduced size to fit in a small wheelhouse and with reduced minimum actions required for the captain to change from forward to aft position. Based on these principals the tugboat console was designed.

The Robert Allan design and engineering team also visited our Rotterdam headquarters in order to see for themselves what it is all about. They came to the conclusion that the AlphaBridge tugboat concept is a breakthrough in tugboat handling design.

Early 2015 and the time has come. Offering full control from a sitting position and exceptional all-round visibility through full height windows, the Robert Allan designed ART 80-32 Hybrid tugs RT Evolution and RT Discovery have been successfully delivered with the AlphaBridge tugboat console concept of tomorrow for the new generation of Rotortugs, recognized as the preferred tugboat design in many ports over the world.

I am very pleased with the result of the first month of operation in the port of Rotterdam. The RT Evolution’s maneuverability and strength provides maximum tugboat safety during operations and enhances the operational possibilities enormously. This tugboat bridge concept is not just a nice piece of metal but the fully integrated concept is combining various space consuming separate control panels into an ergonomic design within the reach of the comfortable wheelhouse chair.

Bas van Hoorn Captain of the RT Evolution

The AlphaBridge comprises of two ergo dynamically designed consoles with a central captain’s chair mounted on rails. The consoles contain the majority of controls and instruments required to operate the tug. At each end of both consoles is a semi-retractable screen, one with the radar display, switchable for the river and sea radar, and the other a multi-function screen displaying navigation and other operational data.

The captain’s chair can be turned and positioned to face in either direction and the displays are arranged to ensure that the screen functions are always in the same position. But our job is never over and we are always looking to continuously improve and finding ways to give technology a more human touch.

Luuk Vroombout CEO Alphatron Marine Group

Royal visit
During a visit in November 2014 of the Dutch Queen Maxima, the board of Kotug proudly introduced their unique training facilities incorporating the AlphaBridge tugboat concept.

As the images clearly show, it is not difficult to see the differences between a traditional layout and the AlphaBridge on the RT evolution.

Global attention
The revolutionary concept is getting more and more attention from worldwide tugboat operators resulting in new additional orders coming from 100 ton BHP escort tugs under construction for tugboat operator KT Marine Services Australia. Those tugs will be employed in a contract for Shell and will service the world largest floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) production platform, located 475 km Northwest of Broom in Western Australia.

Another milestone is an order from American giant Seacor Holdings, which will result in a full wheelhouse fit for an AlphaBridge tugboat on one of their ASD tugs. Today, the numbers of outstanding quotes are increasing rapidly with over 25 tugs now on our current list, something which we feel is just the beginning. Tug knowledge does not just end with propulsion and that is what we promise our customers.

JRC is a world leading marine electronics producer specializing in the design and manufacture of industry compliant products. Alphatron Marine is a world renowned supplier of integrated bridge solutions and manufacturer of unique complementary products to the JRC portfolio. With the full support of Centers of Excellence in Tokyo, Rotterdam, Singapore and Houston, the combined synergies bring quality and innovation to owners, operators and shipyards, redefining the future of ocean navigation.