Olympic Tug and Barge, a Harley Marine Services Company, has selected four JK Fabrication emergency tow storage reels for new barges being built at Zidell Shipyard in Portland (the first two) and Vigor Shipyard there also (the last two units).

Given earlier success at U.S. Coast Guard testing in southern California, earlier orders from Olympic, Smith Maritime, U.S. barge and HME Construction, and acclaim from ABS and marine surveyors, JK has applied for U.S. patent on the unit. The current order marks steadily-increasing interest, and the unit has been specked into other new builds recently, the company said, adding that Olympic has been especially satisfied with the design, given that this is the eighth unit ordered.

Olympic’s order captures several upgrades since the first unit was ordered. A new sprocket-flange allows operators to retrieve deployed cables more easily; thread-down base plates allow for easier mobility for transfer of the unit from barge to barge or to other platforms. Hot-dipped galvanized surface treatment after final assembly finalizes production designed to outlast the barge upon which the unit is installed.

JK’s concept of emergency tow storage between the tug and loose barge came together over a decade ago. Operators encouraged development of the unit, noting that loss of tow between tug and barge is in fact not that rare. In the event that towing line connection between a tug and barge is lost during transit, leaving the barge adrift, the emergency reel installed on the barge has a floating line that can be captured by the tug to reestablish tow connection. The floating line is pulled aboard the tug, the emergency tow wire is paid out completely off the reel, and auxiliary tow chain then engages. The chain then grabs to the center tow pad, and towing at the tug’s end can begin. The magic of the design is that it allows the wire rope to be used also as an under rider—or tandem tow—as well.

Olympic’s unit ordered accommodates 1,600’ of 1.75” wire rope, or 1,200’ of 2” wire, or 900 ft. of 2.25” wire. The unit’s modest footprint (73” x 57.75”) allows for installation above or below decks, or behind bulwarks, as necessary. Yet larger units, or smaller ones, are also available, and the design is suited for ferries and passenger craft as well.

Olympic’s current order is for four units; the order is half complete, with the last two to be delivered in March and June 2015.