Bouchard continues with buildup of ATBs: Linda Lee Bouchard

Linda Lee Bouchard. (Brian Gauvin)

Bouchard Transportation of New York continues its program of building a fleet of deep-water, double-hulled, articulated tug-barge units with the introduction this year of the 6,140-hp tug Linda Lee Bouchard with a matching 110,000-barrel heated oil barge, B-205. These two have since gone to work on long-term charter to Valero Energy Corp., while Bouchard moves toward delivery of its next new units.

“I can see our fleet maybe 10 years down the road when we’ll have all of our big barges — those of, say, 80,000 barrels and up — being articulated tugs with Intercon connection systems,” said Morton S. Bouchard III, president of this fourth-generation family-owned company.

Linda Lee Bouchard, with EMD power and a coupler system developed by Intercontinental Engineering (Intercon) is the 12th articulated tug to join the Bouchard fleet. With delivery of this latest tug-barge unit, Bouchard currently operates 15 double-hull barges in a fleet of about 25.

Unlike many new ATB tugs, Linda Lee Bouchard is a conventional-looking towing vessel with dual pilothouses and complete traditional towing equipment. Its design is in keeping with Bouchard’s philosophy of employing the latest in barge-handling technology while still maintaining tugboat independence and versatility. With its articulated coupler system, the tug can achieve speeds of 10 to 13 knots pushing a fully loaded barge and almost never having to break out of the notch because of weather, according to Bouchard officials. At the same time, the tug can take advantage of its conventional profile and full towing equipment to handle barges of any type and to provide a full towing-mode assist to its own barge, should the need arise.

Morton Bouchard III, above left, talks shop with Ken Bekkelund, captain of the newly launched tug Linda Lee Bouchard during a stop-over in New Orleans. (Brian Gauvin)

Linda Lee is equipped with an Intercon hydraulic single-drum towing winch, dual capstans, H-bitts and a full-width towing bar to facilitate traditional towing efforts, while the winch combined with deck sheaves and fairleads on its stern would allow it to undertake pushing assignments with a conventional barge when it is not attached to B-205.

“The whole arrangement gives us more flexibility. That’s why we have the two pilothouses and all the towing gear,” said a company official. “If the Intercon barge goes out of service for any reason, or even if she is loading or discharging for 36 hours, we might be able to get a little extra service out of the tug, in theory, instead of having her just sit there.”

Since Bouchard has almost more barges than tugboats, the company frequently has to hire in tugboat capacity from other companies. However, for safety reasons and because of customer commitments, the company reports that it is not often able to dispatch one of its ATB tugs on independent service.

The new 6,140-hp tug, shown at left with barge B-205, is the 12th tug in the Bouchard fleet with an articulated connection system. (Brian Gauvin)

Like almost all Bouchard barges, B-205 is a manned barge with independent accommodations and office space for a three-person crew, thus further enabling it to operate independently from its assigned tugboat.

“This is an important feature for us,” said Morton Bouchard. “We are an oil barge company and we want those barges to be maintained and accessible at all times. If there is the slightest need, we want those crewmembers to be right there to take charge of their barge. Our clients like this, and it is clearly an important selling feature. But it’s also a safety feature, so that’s the way we will continue to operate.”

Measuring 430 feet in length with a beam of 79 feet, the barge is designed to carry heated oil products in 16 tanks. Its cargo-handling features include Bergen radar tank gauging, high-level alarm systems and full vapor recovery systems. Like all Bouchard barges, it is of flat-deck design with a complete surrounding rail system.

Linda Lee Bouchard, like most new Bouchard tugs, is SOLAS rated with a related host of communication, design and safety features. Some of the most visible, aside from safety-oriented signage seemingly everywhere, are the emergency auxiliary power generator, extensive internal fire-fighting capability and the diesel-powered rescue boat with launching crane located on the boat deck. In addition, the tug has four inflatable lifeboats stowed around its decks, two of 12-man capacity and two of four-man capacity.

Winston Etienne, engineer aboard Linda Lee Bouchard, is accustomed to working with EMD power throughout the Bouchard fleet. (Brian Gauvin)

Like others before it, Linda Lee is powered by a pair of 16-cylinder EMD F7BA diesel engines with Reintjes reduction gears. While EMD’s F series of diesels is EPA Tier II-compliant and is still available on the marine market, Bouchard officials predict that they will soon be phasing into use of the EMD 710 series of engines that are also compliant with Tier-II emissions regulations.

For this tug, the engines are slightly de-powered to operate at 800 rpm, instead of the traditional 900 rpm, producing 3,070 horsepower at the lower engine speed.

Deck sheaves, shown above, are used for changing the direction of heavy wires leading back from a barge to a tugs stern when in the pushing mode. (Brian Gauvin)

“We are looking at different engine packages, of course, but EMD has been a great provider for Bouchard for several generations, so it is unlikely we would change now,” said Morton Bouchard.

For the present, however, Bouchard’s shipyard activities involve the refurbishment and upgrading of an existing tug, the 6,000-hp EMD-powered Bouchard Girls, and the double hulling of barge B-195. These two are slated for delivery from Bollinger Shipyards in July, while two new barges, of 30,000- and 80,000-barrel capacity, are slated for delivery later in the year.

Linda Lee Bouchard mostly makes use of Intercon coupler equipment. (Brian Gauvin)

Morton Bouchard III is the fourth president to lead this company, which has always been based in New York. First was Fred Bouchard, who founded the company in 1918. Leadership went to Morton S. Bouchard Sr. in the 1950s, then to Morton S. Bouchard Jr., father of the current president. Robert Bouchard, a cousin of Morton Bouchard III, is a vice president of the company, and Morton Bouchard has two sons whom he hopes might one day play a role in company management as well.

The company’s newest tug is named after Mr. Bouchard’s wife, Linda Lee Bouchard.

By Professional Mariner Staff