Skill and Tradition on the Piscataqua River

Skill and Tradition on the Piscataqua River

Story and photos by Casey Conley Capt. John Reeves wasted no time getting the tugboat Z-One underway in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Like fellow Moran Towing Capt. Matt Brewster, who would soon depart aboard Handy Four, Reeves had a schedule to keep.  Some five miles away, the inbound tanker New England was nearly ready to transit up the Piscataqua River to a Portsmouth oil…
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Two Puget Sound captain’s paths  to the pilothouse

Two Puget Sound captain’s paths to the pilothouse

Capt. Darius Rogers steered Bo Brusco away from the Foss Maritime dock in Tacoma, Wa., and headed into Commencement Bay. Before long, TOTE’s cargo ship Midnight Sun rounded the peninsula at Browns Point. The 839-foot roll-on, roll-off (RO-RO) Midnight Sun and its sister ship North Star are familiar sights in the Puget Sound. Both make weekly round trips between Tacoma…
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Capt. Kyle Pfenning:  Navigating the  ‘Big River’

Capt. Kyle Pfenning: Navigating the ‘Big River’

  Capt. Kyle Pfenning claims he got “Mark Twained” during what he thought would be a single hitch on a towboat back in 1995. “I took the deck job just to say I’d done it,” he explained.  But a single hitch it was not to be – almost a quarter-century later, he’s veteran pilot on the inland waters.  Pfenning has…
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Jacobsen Pilot Service: Blending old-school values and new technologies

Jacobsen Pilot Service: Blending old-school values and new technologies

On Dec.26, 2015, the containership CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, bound for a berth at the Port of Long Beach, sailed into a placid San Pedro Bay on its maiden arrival.  A cursory glance at the event would evoke minimal interest, seeing as countless ships have called at the Southern California port since it handled its first vessel more than 100…
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A backward tow through the Ballard Locks

A backward tow through the Ballard Locks

  Capt. Travis Larsen looked over his right shoulder and then his left while backing through the crowded waters of Seattle’s Salmon Bay. For nearly 30 minutes, he had steered astern while guiding the 200-foot refrigerated cargo ship Coastal Progress toward the Hiram M. Chittendon, or Ballard, Locks.   Larsen checked his speed and trusted his instincts as the tug…
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A routine day for the tugboat Savannah

A routine day for the tugboat Savannah

Crescent Towing Capt. Danny Hudson looked at the AIS screen aboard the tugboat Savannah and then glanced down the Lower Mississippi River. He predicted the inbound bulk carrier would round the bend near St. Rose, La., any second.  Right on cue, the 623-foot Liberia-flagged, Aye Evolution appeared over the horizon. Riding high with ballast water, the ship towered above the…
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Alaska’s Marine Highway System:  Slowly backing away from the brink

Alaska’s Marine Highway System: Slowly backing away from the brink

The good news has sometimes been slowing in coming for the Alaska Marine Highway System.  When the ferry M/V Matanuska returned to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, late in the evening on June 20, 2022, it marked the end of a three-year service interruption to a port that had once been a key destination.  New border crossing requirements between the U.S.…
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Hybrid Enhydra proves its worth in  S.F. Bay

Hybrid Enhydra proves its worth in S.F. Bay

Capt. Mike Minard steered Enhydra toward the west side of Alcatraz Island and eased back on the throttles. Right on cue, the hybrid propulsion system switched from diesel engines to battery power.  It’s hard to say if the passengers noticed as they snapped photos of “The Rock” off the starboard side. Engine noise went from a low rumble to a…
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East Coast OSV keeps busy supporting  early offshore wind projects

East Coast OSV keeps busy supporting early offshore wind projects

Northstar Marine’s Commander was built as a standard offshore supply vessel (OSV), like many others that operate in the Gulf of Mexico. But Commander is different. Based out of Philadelphia since 2018, it is the only OSV operating exclusively on the East Coast of the United States. But that’s not all that sets this OSV apart. On this vessel, half…
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AmNav’s ‘magic carpets’ cover  all bases in the Bay Area

AmNav’s ‘magic carpets’ cover all bases in the Bay Area

AmNav Maritime Capt. Dan Thinger arrived at the Port of Richmond in San Francisco Bay and idled the tugboat Z-Three against the starboard quarter of the tanker Trinity.  Two Crowley tugs, Valor and Apollo, were already in position off the starboard stern and starboard bow, respectively, waiting for the ship to get underway. As the two other tugs stretched their…
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