Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Making the Grade: Fishing Boat Propulsion to Meet Regulations


July 1, 2018

Ray Wadsworth chose a pair of 8.9-liter Cummins QSL9 engines with a maximum commercial rating of 280 to 330 BHP at 1,800 rpm for his new steel seiner/packer with a beam of 24 feet and twin screws in tunnels. Photo by Peter Marsh.

According to the experts, 2018 was going to be the year when the future arrived in the engine room of every new fishing vessel, with the demanding EPA Tier 4 rule for engines over 805 HP and all the extra equipment this required. Generally referred to as "after treatment," this new technology has taken a decade and vast amounts of money to develop – and has given many engineers and architects sleepless nights. The fishing fleet seems to have dodged the issue for 2017-18, although a couple of tugboat operators took the plunge into Tier 4 on the West Coast with Caterpillar's Tier 4 3500-series engines complete with SCR (catalytic) chambers and urea tanks.

There were several new fishing vessels 58 feet and longer launched in 2017-18, but they all managed to escape the Tier 4 construction deadline, either by luck or good planning. Tier 3 Caterpillar and Cummins products are still the first choice in the bigger engines. The big new catcher processors that made the headlines in 2016 like the 191-foot diesel-electric Blue North with three Caterpillar gensets and the 194-foot Araho with a 4,000 HP EMD and a shaft generator, both qualified for Tier 3. There are no new vessels of this size under construction or announced – as far as we know.

When the designs for the next generation of seiners or trawlers do pass from the drawing board into the shipyard, they will need to include a significant space dedicated to the SCR system in the engine room or on the main deck. No fishermen will give up hold capacity without a struggle, but the bigger the hull, the less this is an issue. Caterpillar continues to expand its offerings in this power range with its own gen-sets and stern gear for a fully integrated system. There is an alternative to after-treatment; the GE range of medium-speed marine engines that keep all the exhaust treatment in the cylinder head. They are heavier than the competition but very durable, and available from 2,280 HP to 6.300 HP.

That brings us to the lower end of the EPA scale, below 805 HP where Tier 3 is the final standard, and has been in force for several years. In this bracket, it appears to be "business as usual" for engine distributors in the Pacific Northwest. For seiners, tenders and trawlers under 100 feet, the solution the dealers are all promoting is twin engines with heavy-duty or continuous ratings. Twin engines from 500 HP to 800 HP fit easily in the beamy new hulls to provide a combined power of 1,000 to 1,600 HP, allow economy cruising on one engine, and give redundancy in the event of a breakdown. They also allow one or both engines to use PTOs to assist with the electric or hydraulic loads when under way.

This is a very practical option that is already found on shallow draft 58-foot seiners in particular.

Ray Wadsworth is one veteran owner-builder who has chosen this set-up for his latest design, a steel seiner/packer with a beam of 24 feet and twin screws in tunnels to give an extremely shallow draft of just over three feet, loaded. Propulsion is by a pair of Cummins QSL 9 8.9 liter engines with a maximum commercial rating of 280 to 330 BHP at 1,800 rpm, giving a maximum combined power of 560 to 660 BHP. He launched the boat in Port Townsend with a bolt-on stern extension that adds 16 feet to the length and still has enough power to move 200,000 pounds of fish.

There is another option: to follow the movement to total diesel-electric drive with two, three or more identical gen-sets under 600 kW delivering current for all the boat's propulsion, deck gear, chiller and hotel needs through a single switchboard. It's only a matter of time before the benefits of this set-up are recognized, possibly with a lithium-ion battery bank to provide power at anchor or when waiting to deliver the catch.

Hatton Marine of Seattle has sold three Mitsubishi mechanical Tier 3 engines to Hawaii for use in big longliners. This unique engine is a six-cylinder 684-HP model that meets EPA Tier 3 without the use of electronic controls. It is targeted at heavy-duty workboat applications with a mechanical governor and boost compensator to reduce black smoke on acceleration. The S6R has high displacement and a high mass block with a 170-mm by 180-mm engine bore, delivering 24.5 liters of displacement. More displacement means the engine doesn't have to work as hard to produce horsepower, which leads to longer service life. US Seafoods' Alaska Provider was repowered with this engine for the 2017 season.

Regarding repowering in older boats: the EPA prefers owners to put the most environmentally-friendly engine in that will fit the space, which could be a Tier 2 or 3. Your engine dealer or manufacturer will be able to provide you with an accurate description of the rules related to the range they have available. Don't rely on dockside rumors or scuttlebutt when it comes to repowering – it's complicated so check with your dealer about what is legal – don't guess!

Tier 3s in Small Craft

Here are the results of our quick unofficial survey of some of the busier marine engine dealers. Volvo Penta has been popular for many years with a range of engines up to 800 HP. Pacific Power Group reports that a couple of fiberglass hulls from Millennium Marine in Eastern Canada are being finished in Ferndale, Washington with Volvo Penta's D13-800 HP for coastal crabbing. Another glass hull with a D13 engine is at Maritime Fabrication in La Conner, Washington.

Cummins reports a busy winter with a big QSK50-M-1600 HP going to Giddings in Charleston, Oregon for a new 79-foot trawler, and a customer with a seine skiff from Rozema bought a QSL-9M (281-405 HP). After last summer's bumper catch, there is a decent crop of new Bristol Bay gillnetters, and repowers from owners who want to upgrade with more power to run a chiller. That has meant plenty of business in the small 5.9- to 11-liter Cummins engines, with more than 20 going to the Bay, where Cummins has mechanics working in Naknek and Dillingham well before the season begins.

In fact, practically every brand of American and European engine with a high-speed rating has sold a few engines to Alaskan fishermen over the last winter. Cascade Engine Center reports that a new 32-foot Bristol Bay gillnetter built by Dick Smitha at Norcraft Marine in Anacortes sports a Tier 3 Scania Di 13 088M turning out 750 HP at 2,300 rpm. Turning a North American Marine Traktor Jet 611, it logged 27 knots fully loaded, said Cascade's Tim Sandeman. He also has powered another Norcraft design built by North River Boats in Roseburg, Oregon with a 13.5-liter inline-6 John Deere 6135AFM85 providing 575 HP at 2,100 rpm with a conventional propeller.

John Deere also supplied engines to a couple of Washington oyster dredges, and to a seine skiff built In Cordova, Alaska, by Heavy Metal Welding for the F/V Frisian Lady. This 23-foot by 10-foot "super" skiff was fitted with a 350-HP John Deere 6090 driving an Ultrajet and has a custom-built leadline reel.

Pacific Power Group of Kent, Washington delivered a Volvo Penta D6 429 HP engine coupled to a waterjet to repower a bowpicker in Cordova, Alaska. The Volvo Penta sterndrive package was chosen by several inshore fishermen. A couple of Puget Sound crabbers had Maritime Fab in La Conner install the D6-330A 326 HP in their Buffalo fiberglass hulls, and in Bellingham, some tribal fishing vessels were repowered with D4 and D6 sterndrive packages. In Sitka, Alaska an aluminum troller built at ACI Boats has a new twin engine D4-225A 220-HP sterndrive package.

A new 32-foot Bristol Bay gillnetter built by Dick Smitha at Norcraft Marine in Anacortes sports a Tier 3 Scania Di 13 088M turning out 750 HP at 2,300 rpm. Turning a North American Marine Traktor Jet 611, it logged 27 knots fully loaded. Photo courtesy of Cascade Engine.

RDI Marine of Seattle, the distributor of MAN marine diesels on the West Coast, has continued to provide the high-performance 12.8-liter MAN model to Mavrik Marine's successful line of gillnetters in La Conner, Washington. This six-cylinder powerplant produces 730 HP at 2,300 rpm, and incorporates all the German manufacturer's advances in diesel engine gas exchange and fuel injection. In addition, MAN announced a partnership with Le Teste, France-based Nanni Diesel – one of the premier engine marinizing companies in the world.

Nanni uses robust and reliable base engines from Kubota, Toyota and John Deere to assemble a full range of marine diesels. The higher power engines 550 HP to 760 HP are all based on John Deere blocks with top quality parts and the Nanni Compact cooling system for easier maintenance in small engine rooms. Mavrik installed twin Nannis turning NAM waterjets in a couple of boats, and singles in a lower-cost version. Brian Cook, owner of RDI Marine, says "Adding Nanni to our existing range of MAN Marine diesel engines is a perfect fit for us."


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