Bisso’s upgraded ASD tugs handle the Mississippi’s strong 


Capt. Christian Hoffman maneuvered the 96-foot azimuthing stern drive tug Beverly B alongside the bow of Energy 11103, a 391-foot Hornbeck tank barge made up to the 126-foot tug Freedom Service, upriver from New Orleans on the Mississippi River.

After running with the barge for a ways, Hoffman nosed the tug perpendicular to the barge’s starboard bow and, in his understated words, “pushed her around then jumped to the other side.” With the barge turned end-to-end and the tug on its port side, Hoffman followed the pilot’s commands and pushed the tug and barge to the Motiva Norco No. 4 dock.

It was a single tug assignment and one to which a z-drive tug, working in a strong current, is suited. Beverly B was delivered to E.N. Bisso & Son in 2010, the second in a three-tug upgrade that included Josephine Anne and Elizabeth B. The three sisters were designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants, of Seattle, and built at Eastern Shipbuilding.

Capt. Christian Hoffman maneuvers the 4,000-hp tug alongside a tank barge in the Mississippi River.

During the previous decade, shipping companies had developed a thirst for muscular and quick ASD tugs on the river. At present, the four New Orleans tug companies boast a combined fleet of 13 z-drives. Quenching that thirst and the attributes of an ASD tug, especially the ability to exert an almost equal omnidirectional bollard pull, turned E.N. Bisso and Son’s attention to upgrading its fleet of conventional single- and twin-screw tugs.

The 4,000-hp Beverly B is powered by two Caterpillar 3516C Tier 2 diesels, with Rolls-Royce MK2 azimuthing drives, turning four-blade propellers in 92-inch nozzles. The powertrain produces a bollard pull of 55 tons.

“I like the Cats and the generators are very quiet and make it good for living aboard,” said the engineer, Todd Rabalais. “And the engine room is very roomy with easy access to everything.”

On the bow, which is the working end of a z-drive tug, is a Markey DEPCF-42 electric single-drum hawser winch, wound with 500 feet of Samson Saturn-12 line. On the aft deck, just ahead of the cooking grill, there is a Markey capstan and H-bitt.

“Maneuverability is one of the best characteristics of this boat,“ said Hoffman. “And the handling is much quicker than on a conventional tug. Another great thing about this boat is that everyone on the boat gets along.”

The E.N. Bisso fleet of 14 tugs covers 240 miles of the Mississippi River from its mouth to Baton Rouge, with two boats in Gulfport, Miss. Beverly B works a stretch of the river running from Chalmette Slip in St. Bernard Parish, upriver, past the company’s operations office adjacent to Audubon Park in New Orleans, to St. Rose.

Beverly B, a z-drive, demonstrates its omnidirectional maneuverability.

Deck hand Ronald Murphy, Capt. Christian Hoffman, wheelman Dustin Jensonne, engineer Todd Rabalais and Operations Manager Steve Salles.

Beverly B, a Markey DEPCF-42 electric single-drum hawser winch with 500 feet of Samson Saturn-12 line on its bow, prepares to come up alongside a fuel barge.

Water shoots out from the tug’s FFS fire monitor.

Beverly B’s Rolls-Royce MK2 azimuthing z-drive.

Rabalais with one of the boat’s Caterpillar 3516C diesel engines. The main engines total 4,000 hp.


By Professional Mariner Staff