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Tees White Gill Thrusters secures major export contract for oceanographic research vessels

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Tees White Gill (TWG), part of Tees Components, has secured a major new project to supply its thruster technology to a pair of oceanographic vessels operated by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The North East England-based company will supply 50 TS3 QR Thruster models to Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors LLC, which is building the vessels at its shipyard in Houma, Louisiana.

As part of a four-year contract, TWG will fabricate and machine the 10-tonne, 3.4-metre-tall thrusters’ main components in-house, along with assembling, testing and commission the thruster systems.

Operating as a slow speed propulsion system, working with main propulsion or to provide an additional braking if required, the thrusters enable highly accurate manoeuvring and positioning, even in challenging marine conditions.

The vessels are part of an upgrading of NOAA’s aging fleet of research ships. Thoma-Sea is undertaking the design and construction of the oceanographic vessels following a contract award from the US Navy.

The new ships, Oceanographer and Discoverer, will support a wide variety of missions, ranging from general oceanographic research and exploration to marine life, climate, and ocean ecosystem studies. These missions include shallow coastal, continental shelf, and worldwide ocean survey and data collection.

They will be equipped to launch work boats, perform maintenance on buoys and moorings, deploy scientific instruments to collect weather and water column data, and conduct seafloor mapping surveys. Each vessel will operate with a crew of 20 and will accommodate up to 28 scientists.

Adam Robson, technical manager at Tees White Gill, said: “This is a major project for TWG and demonstrates the expertise and experience we have in the sector to secure the contract with our new customer, Thoma-Sea. We’re looking forward to collaborating closely with the shipbuilder and contributing to the construction of these high-profile and ecologically-important vessels.”

Sharon Lane, managing director of Tees Components, said: “Since we acquired the White Gill intellectual property in 2005, we have established a strong niche in the marine thruster market for our specialist and highly innovative technology.

“This project builds on our track record for the design, manufacture and commissioning of thrusters for oceanographic vessels and continues North East England’s world-renowned legacy in the marine industry.

“Having supplied our thrusters to the iconic arctic research vessel, the RSS Sir David Attenborough, which is about embark on its first research mission, we are incredibly proud to continue to support vital environmental projects with the awarding of this contract with Thoma-Sea for the NOAA.”