Colle’s newest tug was eight years in the building

The Robert Allan Ltd-designed tug is 98 feet long with 4,500-hp. She was built over an eight-year period at the company’s own shipyard.

Colle Towing, the principle tugboat company in Pascagoula, Miss., recently introduced its ninth tugboat, this one a 4,500-hp z-drive tractor designed by Robert Allan Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia. The 98-foot John Colle was built over an eight-year stretch at the company’s own shipyard, adjacent to its home office and dock.

The newest tug, named after the company’s current president and grandson of the founder, is the third tractor in the company’s fleet, a fourth having been sold several years ago to McAllister Towing of New York.

John Colle is a stout-looking and compact tug with raised forecastle, midship pilothouse and substantial fendering, particularly at the bow. She is the first of Robert Allan’s 30-meter Ramparts series of ASD tugs to be built in the U.S., although many others of the same design have been built in Canada and overseas.

The Ramparts-3000 tug design incorporates a substantial escort skeg that enables limited application of indirect towing modes.

Whaley Cheery is captain of Colle Towing’s newest z-drive tractor tug in Pascagoula, Miss.

“We all think she’s fantastic,” said Natalie Colle, an officer and frequent spokesperson for the company and daughter of the current president. “Our shipyard guys did a tremendous job on her. If you go aboard and check out the details you can observe the care that they took in finishing the boat.”

With Caterpillar power and Rolls-Royce z-drives, the new tug is rated at 65 tons of bollard pull. She is equipped with firefighting pumps to give her a FiFi-1 rating which would make her suitable to fulfill LNG ship-docking work in the Pascagoula area, according to John Colle, company president. At present two separate LNG importation terminals are being planned for the Port of Pascagoula, located at the mouth of the Pascagoula River on the Eastern Mississippi coast.

Colle Towing, founded in 1878, includes three push boats in its fleet of tugs and also operates about 10 barges. The company is engaged in general towing and barge movements on Gulf Coast waterways and in the Gulf of Mexico, although the primary work of its ship-assist tug is ship docking and minor rig movements within the confines of its home port.

John Colle, named after the company’s current president, is Caterpillar powered with Rolls-Royce z-drives.  She has a forward-mounted hawser winch, and an off mounted towing wire whinch, both provided by Burrard Iron Works.

The first official assignment of the new tug John Colle was to assist with the sailing of the 53,000-gross ton Greek tanker Astro Antares from the Chevron facility. The tug’s senior captain is Danny Cothran, working with engineer Lanny Patterson. Both men have been with Colle Towing for more than 20 years. Other tractor-style tugs in the Colle fleet include the Daniel Colle, 4,000 hp, and Natalie Colle, 3,000 hp. A fourth tractor, Mabel Colle, was sold several years ago. Another relatively new tug in the fleet is the 5,600-hp twin-screw conventional tug, Kimberly Colle, built by Main Iron Works of Louisiana in 1999.

Company officials said they are already working on a plan to build another new tractor in the company shipyard, although it might be a year or two before it is ready to take to water.

“This latest tug took us quite a while to complete, partly because of damage to the shipyard caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005,” said Natalie Colle. “That storm set us back by at least a year. Parts of our facility were under 12 feet of water. It took a lot of repair and reorganization to get the shipyard up and running again.”

In the past year or so, the Colle shipyard has been upgraded with a new 600-ton boat hoist from Marine Travelift which makes it easier to move large vessels around the yard, according to Colle. Installation of the new Travelift allowed the company to sell both its former floating dry dock and its 400-ton Travelift, acquired several years earlier.

New tug John Colle has 16-cylinder Cats for main engines and 125-kw Cummins auxillary power generators. The 96-foot tug is designed for 65 tons bollard pull.

Although the company has maintained its own shipyard for more than a century, lately it has been doing more outside jobs than ever before, according to Colle. Even as the John Colle has been in the final stages of construction over the past year or so, shipyard workers were working on refurbishment of an older tug for Crescent Towing of New Orleans at the same time. That extensive revitalization includes conversion from single to twin screw, all new power and new wheelhouse controls, electronics and other vital improvements. Work on the 105-foot Margaret Cooper is expected to be complete later this year. The company’s shipyard also does all maintenance and repair work on barges and tugs of its own fleet.

The John Colle was also the largest, most powerful and complex tug built in the company’s shipyard, according to Colle. “This one is quite a bit different and complex than what we have built in the past, but the intent is that she will help us be better positioned for new kinds of ship-assist work coming along in the future,” said John Colle.

The newest tug measures 98 feet in length with 36-foot beam and a 15-foot maximum draft.
“They keep getting wider,” said naval architect Robert Allan. “As much as we dare we keep getting forced into increasing the beam both because of increasing horsepower and because of the propeller diameters of the z-drive units.”

The new tug also includes tankage for 54,000 gallons of fuel oil. Her main engines are Caterpillar 3516B diesels with a pair of 125-kw Cummins diesels providing auxiliary electric power. Both the hawser winch and towing winch are from Burrard Iron Works of Canada. The tug has Nijhuis fire pumps with FFS monitors.

Natalie Colle reported that the company has grown to include more than 80 employees, including shipyard workers, boat crews and office staff. “That’s more than I can ever remember being here and we are happy about it. We work hard to keep all of our people here. We’ve got some people here with almost 50 years of seniority. I’m very proud of that.”
Operating its own shipyard helps the company maintain a steady workforce through various business cycles, said Colle.

Aside from John Colle, president, and Natalie Colle, the company staff also includes Jim Colle, vice president and brother of John Colle, and Kimberly Colle, Natalie’s sister.


By Professional Mariner Staff