E-Bulletin June 2024

Northern Lighthouse Board First steel cut for new vessel

The Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) celebrated an exciting milestone last October, when the first steel was cut for its new state-of-the-art hybrid powered vessel.

The new vessel is being built by Spanish shipyard Astilleros Gondán and will follow a tradition started in 1892 by being the fifth NLB ship to bear the name Pole Star

Phil Day, Director of Operations with the Northern Lighthouse Board said: ‘The steel cutting ceremony was an important milestone as it marked the moment when production started on the build of the new POLE STAR, following an intensive 10-month period of detailed design work.

Using new technology to minimise the impact on the environment and with additional capability to help deal with the effects of Climate Change, the new vessel will ensure we can continue to deliver our vital safety service in Scottish and Manx waters into the 2050s.

The vessel will have its keel laid at the end of February 2024 and launched in October 2024, finally entering service in Summer 2025. It will meet the ambitious environmental targets set out in the UK Government Clean Maritime Plan, whilst future proofing NLB’s ability to deliver its vital safety service over the next 25 years.’

The Northern Lighthouse Board operates two ships NLV Pharos and NLV Pole Star. The ships carry out buoy work, deliver stores and supplies to lighthouses and inspect navigation aids on oil and gas rigs in the Scottish sector. The new Pole Star is being constructed to a detailed specification which ensures improved sea keeping, better and safer buoy servicing operations, towing and firefighting capability. There will also be improved crew accommodation and substantial environmental improvements over its predecessor. 

Main details of the vessel are:

  • Length 70m.
  • Breadth 16.0m.
  • Maximum draft 3.9m.
  • Minimum operating draft 3.4m.
  • Maximum speed 14 knots in calm condition, 10.5 knots in sea state 6.
  • Range 7056 nautical miles = 10.5 knots for 28 days.
  • Propulsion Diesel-electric hybrid with 3 x 1758 KW variable speed Tier III engines and 4644 KW main battery – with potential for future upgrade to alternative fuel.
  • 2x 2000 KW azimuth drives and 2 x 550 KW tunnel thrusters.
  • Bollard Pull circa 60 tonnes.
  • DP AA & multibeam hydrographic suite.
  • Deck machinery 20 tonne SWL main knuckle book buoy crane, Chain/towing winch, midships Port & Starboard shark jaws, Aux 11 tonne SWL crane, dedicated workboat, fire monitor.
  • Crew 16 with 10 additional cabins.

Gondán is a well-established and highly respected family business with a track record of delivering quality vessels. Operating continuously since 1925 in the region of Asturias, the company operates a modern fabrication facility with a skilled workforce. NLV Pole Star will be delivered in its centenary year, 2025.

As part of the procurement NLB required additional social values to be identified. To meet these requirements Gondán will create a special fully funded programme for up to 15 UK based interns who will benefit from a range of placements at the yard during the vessel’s construction. Undergraduates studying a range of related subjects will attend the yard in Summer 2024 and 2025. It is also intended that UK apprentices, studying trades such as fabrication, will be given the opportunity to gain experience on the project.

NLB representatives Director of Operations, Phil Day and Technical Manager, Graham Moffat were at the steel cutting ceremony.

Editorial note: Based on material kindly provided by Fiona Holmes, NLB Communications Officer.

Rapporteur: Paul Ridgway

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