Damen Shipyards Group has been selected by Serco to construct a new tug to provide support to the UK Royal Navy’s two new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The contract is a part of Serco’s marine services provided to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Serco Marine Services business operations manager Iain MacLeod said: "We are delighted to enhance our fleet with this fantastic new tug, which will play a very important role at the naval base, and the team eagerly awaits her arrival.

"It was a pleasure to deal with Damen who more than rose to the challenge."

"There were significant challenges to be met with respect to vessel power, manoeuvrability, customisation and delivery time, but once again, it was a pleasure to deal with Damen who more than rose to the challenge."

Propelled by a caterpillar type engine, the 32.9m-long advanced rotortug (ART) 80-32 is said to be the first of its kind, with an 80t bollard pull, and can achieve a speed of 13.7k.

Damen engineered ART is fitted with a patented Rotortug propulsion system, which is comprised of three diesel propelled azimuthing thrusters. Two of the units are fitted in the fore ship and one unit is placed in the aft ship.

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The system is said to facilitate enhanced omni-directional manoeuvrability.

The Rotor tug system comes in handy during high-speed escorting operations, which configures itself to a safer position when reducing throttle or in the case of engine black-out.

The vessel is equipped with triple Z-drives and main engines to ensure continuity of operation, so if one engine fails the vessel can operate on the other.

It has a precise machinery configuration, and is aligned to Serco’s specified modifications to the Robert Allan design, which allows the tug to support the carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, which are currently under construction at Rosyth, Scotland.

The tug is fitted with grey fendering to match the look of the Royal Navy vessels, which results in prevention of marking of the hulls.

Damen has incorporated controllable pitch propellers instead of the usual fixed pitch propellers found on other ART 80-32 vessels.

Construction of the tug is currently underway and is expected to be delivered to Serco in early 2017.

In May 2015, Damen delivered its 30th new build SD Angeline, a MultiCat 2613S, to Serco on behalf of the MoD.

Image: An artist’s impression of the Damen-built tug. Photo: courtesy of Damen Shipyards Group.