(MOBILE, Ala.) — Gretchen V. Cooper, the nation’s first line-haul towing vessel powered by EPA Tier 4 Caterpillar high-speed engines with selective catalytic reduction, was built by Blakeley BoatWorks (BBW) and is now operated by Cooper Marine & Timberlands (CMT). BBW and CMT are both headquartered in the port of Mobile, Ala., and are wholly owned subsidiaries of Cooper/T. Smith.
Blakeley BoatWorks successfully completed construction of Gretchen V. Cooper in March. This 3,400-hp vessel is 110 feet long, 33 feet wide, and expands CMT’s fleet to 20 vessels.
Currently, Tier 4 diesel engine standards are the strictest Environmental Protection Agency emissions requirements for new engines found in inland marine vessels. Tier 4-compliant engines significantly reduce emissions of particulate matter, or black soot, and nitrogen oxides to near zero levels. These engines save fuel and reduce emissions by more than 86 percent for large applications like marine vessels.
Cooper Marine & Timberlands’ port operations are powered by 20 towing vessels, more than 400 hopper barges, and one of the country’s largest fleets of dry bulk gantry and floating derrick cranes. The company’s marine footprint includes the Tennessee-Tombigbee River system, Ohio River, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Illinois River, Arkansas River, Cumberland River, Black Warrior River, Tennessee River, Mobile River and Mississippi River. CMT’s stevedoring operations include two deep-draft bulk cargo terminals in the Port of Mobile and numerous inland marine terminals throughout Alabama and Mississippi.
The towboat is powered by two Caterpillar C3512E Tier 4 diesel marine engines operating at 1,800 rpm and coupled to Twin Disc MGX5600 gears. Thompson Caterpillar also supplied electrical power with two Caterpillar C4.4 Tier 3 generators with R.W. Fernstrum keel coolers throughout.
A pair of Southeastern Propeller 88-by-74-by-9-inch, four-blade stainless-steel propellers provide thrust through two J&S Machine Works 9-inch ABS grade two propeller shafts with Cutlass shaft bearings, Thordon rudder bearings, and Kemel shaft seals. Gulf Coast Air and Hydraulics supplied the steering system for the two 9-inch main and four 8-inch flanking rudders.
Hydra Force LLC provided a pair of Quincy reciprocating air compressors, with ventilation fans provided by Donovan Marine. Schuyler Maritime supplied varying sizes of rubber fendering around the perimeter of the vessel and push knees.
Stone Construction provided a Mitsubishi mini-split HVAC system in all interior spaces with Blakeley BoatWorks providing all custom woodwork and interior finishes. Bozant supplied aluminum and rubber-framed windows and Donovan Marine supplied a pair of Patterson 40-ton deck winches. Blakeley BoatWorks installed all electronics, communications, and an alarm system.
The towboat has a capacity of 44,200 gallons of fuel, 10,000 gallons of potable water, along with providing a maximum working draft of 8 feet 6 inches. The vessel is outfitted with six crew staterooms housing eight crewmen, 4.5 baths and a full galley arrangement.