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Krasnaya Kuznitsa’s tugs

Yelena Abramova
Public relations officer with the shiprepairing plant “Krasnaya kuznitsa”, an Arkhangelsk-based subsidiary of the Zvyozdochka SRC

Russia’s oldest shipyard, known today as the Arkhangelsk subsidiary of Zvyozdochka SRC, revives shipbuilding traditions started back in the days of Peter I

There are four already, harbor tugs, based on a project developed at the shipyard, indispensable for production operations and suitable for deployment at shipyards and repair facilities, as well as in ports. Outstanding maneuverability, compact size, efficiency and operability, good visibility in operation, and suitability for deployment in ice conditions are qualities the tugs have been endowed with to the full extent.

Project needed

The decision to build harbor tugs meeting modern requirements in shipbuilding operations was not made overnight. “We started feeling the need for such craft long ago,” says Nikolay Vaskov, an advisor to Krasnaya Kuznitsa’s CEO. “We brainstormed and gradually came to the conclusion that it did not make sense to copy designs, which had been in operation for over half a century. What would be in order is a project of our own, based on the experience of skippers employed at various facilities and shipyards. By the time we had accumulated certain expertise during the construction of the Piramida self-propelled barge and Vavchuga pilot ship. The harbor tug project became another step in the commercial shipbuilding sector pursued at the facility.”

It would not be out of place to note that at that time there were no modern tugs in the class. And those constructed had come off the Maimaksa shipyard also in Arkhangelsk. Some of them are still in operation. Veterans, already 50-odd years old...

Exploit this experience, adopt the best, deal with the bugs, step up the power, add a bit on the operability and maneuverability sides, and doll them up – such were the tasks facing the design office of the shipyard. These resulted in a single-deck, twin-screw, compact tug, dubbed Project 05Tm, featuring service spaces in the hull and a bridge on the deck. It is this project that eventually paved the way for the construction of Baken and Bui, the first two harbor tugs of Krasnaya Kuznitsa.

Confirmed success

Baken was floated off first. While her stablemate was still in construction, she went through the whole nine yards of production trials. She did perfectly well in maneuvering ships into docks for maintenance, turned easily and smoothly in confined spaces and close quarters. In winter, before leaving a dock, she would spin her screws real hard to push ice out of the space. The ship did these all, let alone reshuffling of ships, which are always in abundance in the shipyard’s harbor, and always moored side by side. Its compact size, the capability to turn on the spot and relatively high power are all the right ingredients for a ‘working horse’ profile.

To put a long story short, they built, tested and made sure that everything came out as planned. Both went to the parent company. A decision was made that Baken and Bui would replace Volkhov and Malakhit, already dated ships, which had logged decades in service of Zvyozdochka. Krasnaya Kuznitsa will build tugs for itself later.

Compact size, power and maneuverability are what makes up a ‘working horse’

“I understand that you feel both happy and sad,” noted Zvyozdochka’s chief engineer Sergey Kukin during the handover ceremony. “It is a happy occasion because you see a worthy and much needed result of your endeavor. But sadness is in the fact that along with the ships you are letting go a piece of yourself, a piece of your heart.” Sergey Kukin assured that people at Zvyozdochka looked forward to getting them for they had the job for the tugs that would keep them real busy.

A letter penned by Oleg Plotitsin, heading the water transport shop at Zvyozdochka, speaks loud and clear about the ships’ performance during the first year of operation.

It says, “On the occasion of the expiration of the warranty period of Baken and Bui, constructed at your facility and turned over to the parent company in November 2017, we extend our gratitude to the specialists at Krasnaya Kuznitsa for the tugs and timely and very efficient assistance rendered in troubleshooting. The tugs have proved their worthiness since we received them. They are indeed superior to older generation harbor tugs in terms of power and maneuverability. Besides Baken and Bui also did well in ice conditions.”

Numbers 3 and 4

Baken and Bui were about to log the first year into their service life at Zvyozdochka, when a third tug of the RBT class was floated off at Krasnaya Kuznitsa. A fourth, her hull finished and shafts being installed, was coming soon.

The RBT-3 and RBT-4 were far from being exact copies of the first two, for they were constructed to the standards of Project 05Tu. Though not many differences the craft have, they will not escape the attention of the crew first and foremost. “The third and fourth tugs are 1.5m longer,” explains commissioning engineer Yakov Yeremeev. “The crew will find them more comfortable: more room on the bridge, a separate ablution compartment added. Besides, the engine cooling system has been upgraded.”

During the construction of all four tugs preferences were given to products originated in Russia. Almost all materials, to include steel, cladding, heat insulation, paint, etc., are made in Russia. Russian manufacturers supplied power plants, screws, anchor gear, lighting equipment.

The past two years also witnessed retooling of the production operation. Work is apace at the facility to upgrade the hull manufacturing operation by introducing mechanized and automated sites.

As part of the initiative, the shipyard received and commissioned the RITM-M thermal steel cutting machine in 2017. This comprises Phase 1 of a modern line for assembling and welding flat sections of ship hulls, developed by the Shipbuilding & Repair Technology Center. The RITM-M has already become a tool of choice at the facility, particularly when it comes to maintaining and repairing ships, but cutting parts and components for future ships as well. The year 2018 saw the commissioning of yet another machine, namely the MGPS-25K, a multi-purpose bending and straightening machine complete with a 250kN (25tf) crane system. This is another design of the Shipbuilding & Repair Technology Center.

Even today the shipyard is fit for constructing not only tugs, but passenger vessels, barges, ferries, pontoons, berthing floats, and float bridges as well, should it come to that. 

Baken and Bui

Key differences from older harbor tugs:

- hydraulic steering gear (instead of mechanical),

- hydraulic reverse reduction gearbox (instead of manual mechanical),

- Both engines gained 50 hp each,

- The bridge sits higher, providing better and wider view,

- Better maneuverability ensured by a twin-screw propulsion system.


Overall length: 14.84m

Length on DLWL: 13.99m

Overall beam: 3.82m

Molded beam: 3.61m

Amidships depth: 2.2m

Stempost depth: 2.6m

Aft transom height (from the keel): 1.99m

Freeboard draft: 1.55m

Displacement at T=1.55m 40.97t

Screw diameter 2x1m

Crew (shift) 2 men

Rated power of the main propulsion

2x147kW (2x200 hp)

Russian River Register class К 1.2 (ice 30)


- Towing of river vessels, floating objects and installations in ice and ice free conditions,

- ship piloting in ports and mooring,

- escorting of ships to the sea,

- Ship refloating on the river.


Krasnaya Kuznitsa, an Arkhangelsk-based subsidiary of the Zvyozdochka Shipyard, evolved from Russia’s two oldest shipyards, namely Shipyard No. 176 of the Russian Ministry of Defense and Krasnaya Kuznitsa.

Given the fact, the enterprise has a long and vibrant history, dating back to 1693. It is here in Arkhangelsk right where Krasnaya Kuznitsa is located that the construction of a military ship was commissioned by the state at the behest of Peter I.

Company profile: dock repair of ships displacing up to 9,000t, shipbuilding, construction and assembling of constructions from sheet and profile metal, maintenance and repair of diesels, development and manufacturing of automated systems for ships, etc.

Krasnaya Kuznitsa’s tugs
Krasnaya Kuznitsa’s tugs
Krasnaya Kuznitsa’s tugs
Krasnaya Kuznitsa’s tugs
Krasnaya Kuznitsa’s tugs