Andrew Moran strikes balance between power and agility
Over two decades, Moran Towing built a fleet of capable and increasingly powerful 92- and 93-foot tugboats seemingly one after another.
Now, the company based in New Canaan, Conn., has shifted gears. Its new class of ship-assist tugboats trades some of that horsepower and bollard pull for agility and quickness alongside a ship.
The 86-by-36-foot Andrew Moran is the second tugboat in the series, after Wyatt Moran. Jensen Maritime Consultants, now Crowley Engineering Services, designed both vessels and Washburn & Doughty in East Boothbay, Maine, built them.
Andrew operates in and around Port Arthur, Texas, where it primarily escorts and assists tankers carrying petroleum or refined products. Its twin 2,550-hp Caterpillar engines are paired with Kongsberg z-drives. Bollard pull is 60 metric tons ahead and 56 metric tons astern.
“She handles really well,” said Capt. Shelby Clark, who operates Andrew Moran in Port Arthur. “Some bigger tugs can take a little more time to get going. This almost glides into it. It’s really responsive.”
Andrew Moran represents a break from the 92-by-36-foot and 93-by-38-foot tugboats Moran built at Washburn & Doughty over two decades. The larger tugs built during the 2010s run from 6,000-hp to 6,778-hp and are assigned to ship assist and escort duty up and down the East Coast and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Within that extensive build program, Moran also added five 86-by-36-foot tugs from multiple builders: Katie T. Moran, Annabelle Dorothy, Capt. Jimmy T, Shiney V. and Mark Moran. Andrew and Wyatt represent a modernization of those z-drive tugs built more than a decade ago using a Jensen design. Andrew and Wyatt’s sister tug, Dennis Moran, is due to be delivered in June. It will be followed by two more deliveries from Washburn & Doughty.
These updated tugs feature the same deep skeg forward that enhances escort capabilities. The skeg is open at the back, which improves maneuverability and reduces rolling and pitch while underway, according to Crowley’s naval architects. Other improvements align the vessel with ABS, U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter M and EPA Tier 4 design standards. Andrew’s propellers are protected by guards designed and installed by Kongsberg.
Moran’s Port Arthur unit operates a diverse group of tugboats that include the 6,772-hp George Benson Moran, the 6,000-hp Hayley Moran and three 5,100-hp tugs, including Katie T. Moran and Andrew Moran. Two conventional tugs also work from that port.
Port Arthur is a hub for the petrochemical industry, which dominates the shipping activity across the region. Numerous plants dot the horizon, along with hulking refineries operated by Exxon, Total, Motiva and Valero that shape the region’s skyline. In addition to crude oil and refined products, area terminals handle drybulk, aggregate and military cargoes, according to Steve Kelly, vice president and general manager of Moran Towing of Texas.
“Its reliability is better, its horsepower is greater and its visibility is greater,” Kelly said of Andrew Moran. “And, increasingly, the pilots are calling for tractors.”
“We like the boat a lot, and we are happy to improve our fleet,” he added.
Andrew Moran arrived in Port Arthur in late winter 2022 after a delivery voyage from Norfolk, Va., where crews spent some time acclimating to the vessel. Clark said the vessel handled the Atlantic with relative ease. The only hiccup was a weather-related delay caused by a major blizzard in Hampton Roads. It was the first time many of them had seen a large snowstorm.
Andrew effectively replaces the twin-screw conventional tug Helen Moran, which was built in Savannah, Ga., in the mid-1960s. It has remained within Moran since then and worked at multiple ports.
“It’s like going from a regular riding lawnmower to a zero-turn lawnmower. That is what I tell people,” Clark said, when asked how the two vessels differ. “You’re also going from 3,200 hp to 5,100 hp, and that amount of power is a huge thing for being able to work the big ships. She’ll also walk faster and go sideways faster.”
The two Caterpillar 3512 Tier 4 mains occupy the heart of Andrew’s engine room. The two 99-kW John Deere-Marathon generators are located aft of the mains, inboard from the shafts running aft to the Kongsberg z-drives.
Engineer Jeff Wesney came to Andrew Moran from Katie T. Moran, which shares the same general dimensions. He likes the layout of Andrew’s engine room, which ensures key systems are accessible and easy to service.
“A lot of it is how open everything is,” he said during a tour of the space. “I really like the open design. It creates a lot more breathing room.”
Wesney said two systems in particular, the Sea Horse Manufacturing sanitation system and the First Electric machinery alarm panel, ease his workload. The touchscreen alarm system tracks and logs alarms, monitors key mechanical systems and displays the information clearly. The Sea Horse system, meanwhile, reduces time spent dealing with a task few enjoy.
Andrew Moran typically operates with a four-person crew who work a week on followed by a week off. The tug has four cabins, allowing each crewmember their own space. The tug also has a comfortable mess and crew lounge on the main level.
“For boats of comparable size, this boat uses its space much more economically,” Clark said. “The rooms are bigger. Everything just feels bigger.”
The wheelhouse is equipped with a suite of modern Furuno navigation electronics that includes radar, AIS and satellite compass. The tug also has a Furuno bridge watch alarm system and loud hailer. The helm station is situated between two control stations with z-drive controls and touchscreen navigation displays within arm’s reach.
Floor-to-ceiling windows enhance visibility looking forward. The view aft is improved thanks to shorter exhaust stacks that bend away and slightly out from the wheelhouse.
Andrew Moran is equipped with a Markey Machinery DEPC-48 electric winch located on the forward deck together with a combination H-bitt and staple built into the bow. The winch is wrapped with 525 feet of 9-inch Cortland Plasma rope. A Markey CEW-60 capstan installed on the aft deck is primarily used when moving barges on the hip.
Andrew Moran entered service almost immediately upon arriving in Texas. Its crew have come to appreciate the vessel’s compact size, power and agility, particularly when working in tight spots.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” Clark said, referring to its size and power. “It’s a really handy boat.” •