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The Rig Report—Repowering the Njord


A derrick barge at the Port of Long Beach.
Manson’s derrick barge NJORD on the Middle Harbor Redevelopment Stage 3, Phase 3 project at the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. Photo credit: Bill King-Surveyor

The repowering of Manson’s derrick barge NJORD will update the vessel’s diesel engine and generator to meet Tier III emission requirements for marine vessels. The main objective of the repower is to ensure that the NJORD is under compliance with California Emissions Law so the rig can continue to work on projects along the West Coast, where emissions standards tend to be stricter. The NJORD left Richmond, California, and arrived at the Seattle yard in November 2021, where the repower is taking place with members of the NJORD crew and the yard’s equipment and electrical crews collaborating on the effort.


Repowering a vessel usually requires a rebuild or replacement of the main operating systems. In the beginning, the NJORD repower experienced some shipping delays with parts pending delivery to the Seattle yard due to nationwide shipping issues. “We ordered the new engine in May 2021, and it finally arrived February of this year,” says Daric Latham, West Coast equipment manager. “It was supposed to arrive in October 2021, so we’ve had time to plan ahead, but we’ve been waiting for parts to come in so we can get the work done.” Aside from the delays, members from the electrical, equipment and NJORD crews have been hard at work getting things ready for the arriving parts.


A derrick barge at a marine yard in Seattle.
Here’s a sneak peek of the new Caterpillar 3516C engine being installed in the derrick barge NJORD. The new engine is rated at 3,716 horsepower and will serve as the main power generation plant for the vessel. Photo credit: Daric Latham-West Coast Equipment Manager

In the first two weeks, crews removed the engine, generator, radiator, small motors, and electrical breakers from the rig. The NJORD will receive substantial upgrades with the installation of a Caterpillar 3516 diesel engine and a Nidec Leroy-Somer generator which is slated to arrive in Spring 2022. The new addition of the parts will require crews to replace the vessel’s current radiator and cooling system to accommodate for the engine’s increase in horsepower from 2,628 hp to 3,176 hp and power supply of the 2,250kw generator. “The new radiator is about two feet thicker compared to the original,” says NJORD Captain Joe Barney. “So we are extending the area to fit the new part, so there is definitely a constant shift of the crews to different areas of the vessel.”


Even with so many pieces removed, work on the vessel is moving along steadily. “It was easy for crews to haul out the parts that needed replacing,” Joe says. “Many of the guys working on the rig have gone through a repower once or twice, so we are in good hands.”This experienced crew is made up entirely of Manson personnel and includes two members of the NJORD crew, four members from Manson’s equipment department, and Manson electricians.


“The nice thing about this repower job is that the crew is 100% Manson, so most of these guys know what to expect,” says Shane Smith, Manson superintendent of the equipment department. “Like most repowers, crews will perform regular service to clean electrical components and replace smaller parts, but with the new horsepower of the engine and generator, it changes things up.” The last repower for the NJORD was in 2010, and Daric, Shane, and Joe were all involved on that project.


The NJORD and its crew have an impressive record of projects under Manson and the vessel itself has undergone many changes over the years — including some changes that occurred long before Manson acquired the rig in 1997.


The NJORD began its journey as a United States Naval rig in 1942. Acquired as a government surplus in 1997, the rig was towed to the Seattle yard with crews ready to outfit and make various improvements to the vessel. Crews disassembled the crane and made updates and modifications, installed a sophisticated electrical system to control the new winches and swings, lengthened and strengthened the boom, and refitted the barge with two 48-in. spuds and one 48-inch walking spud. With the installation of a 50-CY bucket capacity in 1997, the vessel became the largest clamshell dredge in the United States at the time. At its christening, the new derrick was given the name NJORD, honoring the Scandinavian heritage of the company’s founder, Peter Manson. Today, the vessel has earned its reputation as one of the most unique and reliable derricks in the company.


Unlike most cranes, the NJORD can hook up to shore power through multiple transformers, which is often an environmental requirement on projects. Its presence up and down the West Coast has become synonymous with excellence on top Manson projects including the Port of Anchorage Transitional Maintenance Dredging Project and the Oakland Harbor, Phase 3E Project.


Repowering is a regular occurrence, and, depending on government legislation and emission requirements, repowering can be required from months to years apart. “With the new legislation, this repower should give the NJORD a 10-year operating status before the next emissions requirement,” Daric says.




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