A facility installed on the Vizhinjam coast to test the maximum tugging capacity of a ship is scheduled to become operational on September 23.

A facility installed on the Vizhinjam coast to test the maximum tugging capacity of a ship is scheduled to become operational on September 23.

Minister for Ports K. Babu is scheduled to dedicate to the nation the Bollard Pull Test Facility set up by Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) and lay the foundation stone for the water supply and sanitation facilities at Vizhinjam.

The facility is being showcased by the CSL as the largest of its kind, capacity-wise, in the country. A CSL official said the facility could test ships which had a pulling capacity of up to 500 tonnes. At present, the highest test capacity available in the country was 200 tonnes.

The bollard test is typically performed by tying a thick rope (hawser) from the ship to a fixed structure (bollard) on shore. The ship's engine is then throttled to the maximum and the tugging capacity measured using a ‘load cell' or a dynamometer which is fixed between the hawser and the bollard.

According to information made available by the CSL, all newly constructed tugs and special offshore ships need to undergo this test prior to being handed over to the respective owners. Ships which have undergone extensive repairs also have to undergo this test.

Vizhinjam was selected for the installation of this ‘Safe Working Load' facility “due to its inherent advantage of higher water depth close to shore”. A bathymetry survey of the location conducted by a Chennai-based firm revealed that the sea had a depth of 20 metres around 750 metres from the shore.

This, a note issued by the CSL said, was ideal for conducting the bollard pull test.

A bollard had been installed on a rock on the Vizhinjam coast. Initially, iron rods were rammed into the rock. Iron rods were also bolted on to the underside of the bollard fashioned out of metal. This was then embedded in concrete.

The facility has been put in place for testing high bollard pull offshore vessels that the CSL expects to construct in future.

Now, four ‘Anchor Handling Tug Supply Vessels' with a tugging capacity of 120 tonnes are being constructed at the CSL. The first of these vessels, which is undergoing ‘acceptance trials' , may be tested at this facility in September 2011.