Bisso keeps ASD line moving with another powerful newbuild

Liz Healy 1

In November, the bulk carrier Super Luna, laden with grain at the Zen-Noh grain terminal upriver from New Orleans, was triple-teamed by Bisso Towboat azimuthing stern drive tugs.

Pulling on the ship’s stern was Alma S., with Mr. Ruben tugging at the bow. As the distance widened between the dock and the ship, Liz Healy, its bridge scented with a new-boat aroma, moved into the void to push on the ship’s bow, turn it downriver and wave goodbye.

Liz Healy is the seventh collaboration between Bisso Towboat and Main Iron Works to build an ASD tug. In 1999, the two veteran Louisiana companies partnered on Cecilia B. Slatten, the first ASD tug on the Mississippi River.

Bisso acquired the design from naval architect Greg Castleman and, retaining the same 100-by-38-foot dimensions, tweaked and upgraded the house arrangements, bridge layout, propulsion and towing machinery, and air conditioning systems. Liz Healy is the latest in the ASD line, essentially an enhanced version of the second tug, Alma S.

“This boat has great maneuverability and horsepower,” said Liz Healy Capt. Bryan Tastet. “And the winch is a deck hand’s dream.”

Propulsion is provided by two Caterpillar 3516C Tier 3 mains and Rolls-Royce US 205 FP z-drives, producing 4,480 horsepower, 60 tons of bollard pull and 12 knots of speed.

The z-drives are ice class, built for heavy duty and longevity, and the Kort nozzles are stainless steel to ward off the effects of electrolysis.

“Electrolysis will eat up the nozzles if they’re not stainless, and the longevity will offset the initial cost,” Tastet said.

On the bow is a JonRie Series 230 hydraulic auto-tensioning hawser winch equipped with pedals at the helmsman’s feet.

“They free up the hands when paying the line in and out,” Tastet said. “With all the other things that you have to take care of while working a ship, it’s a real help.”

On the aft deck is a Washington Chain & Supply quick-release pelican hook. The stainless steel H-bitt and staple provide a gleaming defense against line chafing.

There are four staterooms below the waterline, one for each crewmember, making for quiet accommodations. The wood finish — Spanish cedar throughout the vessel — is the latest example of the exquisite craftsmanship of the joiners at Main Iron Works.

Liz Healy is named for Bisso’s general counsel, Elizabeth Healy. Currently the company’s fleet is more than 50 percent ASD driven.

“Eventually we would like to have a 100 percent ASD tractor fleet,” said Scott Slatten, company president. “We really like this design and want to keep it with Tier 4 propulsion.”


Capt. Bryan Tastet nudges Liz Healy midships against the bulk carrier Super Luna at the Zen-Noh grain terminal.


Liz Healy moves around Super Luna to push on the inside bow of the departing grain ship. In the background, Mr. Ruben pulls on the bow and Alma S. pulls on the stern to turn the ship.


Chief engineer James Jacobs monitors one of the tugboat’s two Caterpillar main engines.


Although Liz Healy likely will never see water that approaches the freezing mark, its Rolls-Royce US 205 FP z-drives are ice class for durability.


By Professional Mariner Staff