Canadian Consulting Engineer

L.A. Fireboat

As naval architects and marine engineers, Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver have a very specialized line of work. The company designs work boats and recently has been focusing on high performance tugboats and fireboats.

May 1, 2004  By Robert Allan Ltd.

As naval architects and marine engineers, Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver have a very specialized line of work. The company designs work boats and recently has been focusing on high performance tugboats and fireboats.

Last year they delivered the M.V. Warner L. Lawrence fireboat to Los Angeles. It is the most powerful “dedicated” fireboat in the world, and was the culmination of more than seven years’ planning by the LA Fire department.

Built to serve a port that has petrochemical, chemical, container and dry bulk cargo facilities, the boat has a firefighting system with six pumps that together deliver more than 9,000 cu.m. per hour of water and 2,400 cu.m per hour of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) to any hazard on or near the waterfront. The boat also provides search and rescue operations, dive support and emergency towing.

Its unique hull form has full ends in order both to accommodate the large propulsion equipment and to satisfy a key requirement that the boat should not produce a large wake during normal operations within the port. The vessel is designed to be driven both forward and astern. The wheelhouse, which has glazing all around, has identical control consoles facing both ways. The fireboat can travel at speeds of 12.7 knots in either direction, but travels astern at 8 knots to keep the wake to a minimum.

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Propulsion and steering control in the 32-metre long vessel are provided by twin Voith cycloidal propellers, each driven by an MTU Detroit Diese1 2V 4000 engine, rated 1,800 bhp at 1,800 rpm. Each of these propulsion engines also drives a 1200 cu.m /hour fire pump from its front end. A pair of MTU/Detroit diesel 8V 4000 pump engines each drive two additional fire pumps.

Manoeuvrability and station-keeping was another factor in the vessel’s design, influencing the selection of the Voith cycloidal propellers. The boat can turn 360 degrees within its own length, and move sideways easily, enabling it to hold position in any attitude against the thrusts generated by the fire-fighting monitors.

Rather than trying to conceal the main fire-fighting piping inside the hull and superstructure, as is more typical in fireboats, the design team opted to mount the piping prominently in a ring around the upper boundary of the deckhouse. This strategy enabled the piping to be fabricated more easily and gave the boat a dynamic appearance. The boat has an extending crane/human lift and an over-side articulated dive platform. Inside the deckhouse are paramedic facilities complete with gurney and treatment table.

Naval architects design and engineer every single aspect of a vessel design. Thus, Robert Allan Ltd. was responsible for everything from defining the hull form and predicting the boat’s stability and hydrodynamic performance, to designing the structure and propulsion and all auxiliary machinery. They analyzed and detailed the firefighting system and specified the interior outfitting and decor.

Client: Los Angeles Fire Dept. and Port of Los Angeles

Prime consultant: Robert Allan Ltd., Vancouver (Robert G. Allan, P.Eng., Kenneth D. Harford, P.Eng.)

Electrical design: DC Maritime Technologies (David Clark P.Eng)

Construction: Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Freeland WA

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Engineering


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