Hailed as the first LNG-powered ferry to have been built in North America, the 92m x 26.4m Armand-Imbeau II has also been described by Québec’s Chantier Davie Canada Inc as “paving the way in setting a new environmental standard for the entire continent”. The vessel was constructed for government-owned provincial operator Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) as the first of two LNG-equipped ferries designed by Concept Naval: the sister vessel, Jos-Deschenes II, is scheduled to leave Davie’s yard very soon.
However, LNG-fuelled vessel operations are hardly a new phenomenon for STQ. In 2015, the operator took delivery of the 133m x 22.4m MV F.-A.-Gauthier, built by Fincantieri in Italy, which has been providing crossings for up to 778 passengers and 180 cars ever since.
Armand-Imbeau II and her forthcoming sister ferry will replace older vessels in fulfilling a shuttle service on a route linking Tadoussac, La Baie and Sainte-Catherine, where the Saguenay River meets the St Lawrence River. The ferry, Davie adds, is “highly automated for use by a smaller crew”, with “more than 6,800 inputs/outputs into the main automation system – compared to 3,500 for a naval vessel and roughly 6,000 for a semisubmersible offshore drilling rig.” As one example, the ferry has been built with fully automated shutdown systems, which will automatically activate in the event of a breach in gas safety.
In tandem with the Government of Québec’s ongoing Maritime Strategy, which seeks to protect the biodiversity of ecosystems in and around the St Lawrence River, it was decided to enable Armand-Imbeau II and her forthcoming sister to run entirely on LNG, in order to slash NOx levels by as much as 90%, and to more or less nullify sulphur and fine particle emissions. This was to prove a challenging task, necessitating much research and risk assessment, which was conducted in cooperation with class society Lloyd’s Register and national regulatory body Transport Canada.
All major power and propulsion equipment, with the exception of the thrusters, was supplied by Wärtsilä. Wärtsilä’s supply package for Armand-Imbeau II includes two 6L20 DF and two 9L20 DF engines, coupled to ABB alternators, representing 5,634kVA of total installed power. The DF brand stands for ‘dual fuel’ and can accommodate both LNG and MDO – of which the vessel can store approximately 45tonnes and 50tonnes respectively. The ferry’s main electrical systems include two main switchboards, two propulsion thruster drives and two ABB-manufactured propulsion motors.
Armand-Imbeau II has been fitted with Wärtsilä’s C-type LNGPac storage tank, which comes with evaporators, gas valve units and automation and safety systems. Wärtsilä also supplied the ferry’s integrated automation system (IAS), power management system (PMS), and communication/control centre. The ferry’s thrusters were supplied by Schottel, and comprise TYP SRP 4000 fixed pitch models, each rated 2,200kW and certified to Ice Class 1AS.
Armand-Imbeau II incorporates a 5.7m car deck and a 5m mezzanine deck, and she can store up to 20tonnes of potable water and 788tonnes of ballast water.
Following the imminent handover of Jos-Deschenes II, Davie plans to further exploit this foothold gained in the green shipping sector. Alex Vicefield, Inocea chief executive, comments: “We will now be looking at how LNG can power other classes of icebreaker.” Another avenue of interest is the manufacture of ferries running purely on electrical propulsive power, Vicefield hints.