Beamy Independent extends Maine yard’s lineage in Port of Tampa


Able seaman Kristina Smithe, in position on the foredeck of the Marine Towing of Tampa (MTT) tugboat Independent, put a line up on the port quarter of the 610-foot tanker Palmetto State. The AB aboard Liberty, a smaller version of Independent, put a line up on the port bow of the ship. The tugs pulled the tanker off of Pier 227, ran with the ship to the Citgo Terminal in the Port of Tampa, and docked the vessel.

It was a short shifting job, one that MTT’s newest azimuthing stern drive tug, the 5,000-hp Independent, took in stride.

Both tugs were designed and built by Washburn & Doughty (W&D): the 92-by-32-foot, 5,000-hp Liberty in 2007, and its larger sister, the 93-by-38-foot Independent, in May 2017.

The shipyard in East Boothbay, Maine, delivered two tugs to MTT — Freedom in 2005 and the original Independent in 2003 — that are identical to Liberty. Currently, Freedom is chartered to E.N. Bisso & Son of New Orleans. Independent was sold to McAllister Towing and Transportation of New York in 2014 and renamed Moira McAllister.

Independent’s stern features a Timberland Equipment capstan and a shipyard-built H-bitt. An FFS monitor stands guard on the upper deck.

In 2013, W&D delivered the 93-by-38-foot Patriot to MTT. With the exception of a JonRie stern towing winch and FiFi-1 firefighting capability, Independent is a clone of Patriot. The stern winch was eliminated on Independent because MTT rarely conducts ocean tows. If an ocean tow is required, Patriot draws the straw.

On the bow of both tugs is a JonRie InterTech Series 220 double-drum hawser winch wound with 400 feet of 9-inch Spectra line. On the stern is a 10-ton Timberland Equipment capstan. Propulsion is provided by two Caterpillar 3516C mains with Rolls-Royce US 205 azimuthing stern drives. The bollard pull is 75 tons and vessel speed is 12 to 14 knots.

The increase in beam from 32 feet to 38 feet gives the wider tugs more stability and allows for additional creature comforts. A larger keel also contributes greatly to the escort capability of the new boats, a benefit on long runs in the port.

As for interior space, Capt. Mark Barthle said Independent is very roomy, with amenities that are the vessel’s best attribute.

“This is the quietest, smoothest, fastest tugboat I’ve ever been on,” he said. “We usually run it at the optimum fuel burn, but when we need to get somewhere fast, it’s nice to be able to boost her up.”


Capt. Mark Barthle mans the z-drive controls in the tug’s well-appointed pilothouse. “This is the quietest, smoothest, fastest tugboat I’ve ever been on,” he says.


Engineer Monte Hoogerheide checks on one of Independent’s twin Caterpillar mains in the meticulous engine room.


Ready for duty, from left: AB Kristina Smithe, mate Robert Miller, Capt. Mark Barthle and engineer Monte Hoogerheide.


A view of the stern showcases the tug’s wide beam and clean lines.

Independent specifications

Owner/operator: Marine Towing of Tampa, Tampa, Fla.
Designer/builder: Washburn & Doughty, East Boothbay, Maine
Dimensions: L: 93’ B: 38’ D: 17’
Mission: Ship assist and docking
Crew size: Four, with accommodations for six


• (2) Caterpillar 3516C main engines, 2,500 hp each
• (2) Rolls-Royce US 205 z-drives
• (2) John Deere 4045 99-kW auxiliary generators

• Fuel: 38,000 gallons
• Water: 4,000 gallons

• JonRie InterTech Series 220 double-drum hawser winch
• 400 feet of 9-inch Spectra line
• FFS fire pump and monitor
• Morse Rubber fendering
• Weka box coolers

• (2) Furuno NavNet TZtouch 14-inch displays with chartplotter/AIS and radar overlay
• Furuno GPS
• Furuno ultrasonic weather station
• Standard Horizon VHF radio


By Professional Mariner Staff