Les Abeilles’ expertise at the fore in a world first: towing the world’s largest containership, the CMA CGM Marco Polo. On March 9th, the crew on the Abeille Bourbon successfully completed towing operations on the CMA CGM Marco Polo, the jewel in CMA CGM’s crown and the largest containership in the world (capable of carrying up to 16,020 TEUs(*)), as part of an exercise organized by the Atlantic French Maritime Prefecture.

Paris, March 11, 2013,

The Abeille Bourbon is a tug specializing in salvage and assistance and chartered by the French Navy to protect the French coastline. The vessel provided its services for an Atlantic French Maritime Prefecture exercise to test the latest generation of the CMA CGM Marco Polo containership’s emergency towing arrangement. The containership is 396 m long, weighs 186,000 tons and has a 16,020 container capacity.
As part of the exercise, the CMA CGM Marco Polo simulated damage to its propeller system when leaving the Ouessant traffic separation scheme. The vessel naturally positioned itself across the wind. Its size provided a large surface for wind impact and the containership soon began to drift. The crew on board the Abeille Bourbon, headed by the Captain Thierry Choquet, launched a fast tow procedure and focused on tug maneuvers to turn the CMA CGM Marco Polo head to wind.
The Salvage tug therefore moved closer using a line-throwing gun and a pass rope to link up with the CMA CGM Marco Polo. In adverse weather conditions, this maneuver is risky as it requires the high seas salvage tug to be very close to the ship it is assisting. The Abeille Bourbon reached a speed of 6.7 knots with a bollard pull of approximately 90 t.
The operation went perfectly. This new experience is an asset to the Abeille Bourbon crew’s expertise. The Abeille Bourbon, with over 21,000 horsepower and 200 t in traction, has once again demonstrated its ability to assist new types of vessels e.g. latest generation containerships,” says Christian Quillivic, Managing Director of Les Abeilles, BOURBON’s affiliate in charge of assistance, salvage and anti-pollution.
(*) TEU = Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, unit of cargo capacity