Foss goes for horsepower, acquires 8,200-hp tugs from Sun

Foss Maritime, Seattle, has acquired a pair of offshore tugs from a Gulf Coast operator; the tugs will be the largest in the company’s fleet of 107 boats.

Just going to work for Foss this summer is the 8,200-hp Lauren Foss, followed by a sister ship, both of which were purchased from Sun Towing, Amelia, La., earlier this year.

“There’s a little bit of size envy going around in the fleet among our senior captains,” said Paul Gallagher, Foss’ director of sales. “Previously the Garth Foss and the Lindsay Foss were our largest vessels, but even if you throw in extra horsepower from the generators, dishwashers and garbage disposals, they still can’t come up with the power of the Lauren Foss and the Cobin Foss.”

Feelings of size envy don’t last long among these captains, however, when you consider that Garth Foss and Lindsay Foss are among the largest cycloidal-drive tanker-escort tugs operating in the United States.

Lauren Foss, which departed Seattle in June, bound for the Russian Far East with two barges in tow, is 141 feet in length with fuel tankage for 224,000 gallons of diesel. The tug has a pair of 16-cylinder Alco diesels with Haley reduction gears and 10.5-inch-diameter propellers in nozzles. The second vessel was expected to be delivered from the Gulf Coast in August.

Billy Jacobsen, a senior Foss captain who brought Lauren Foss to the West Coast and who conducted the tug’s first tow of an 800-foot reserve naval vessel from Alameda, Calif., to Washington state, reported that the tug could maintain tow speeds of better than 8 knots in reasonable weather, while burning about 5,500 gallons of diesel per day.

“These are big boats for us,” Gallagher said. “They are the first really large ocean towing tugs that we have, and it brings us up into another market, and we’re pretty excited about that.”

Both new tugs are International Measurement System and Safety of Life at Sea certified for full ocean service, according to Gallagher. Their hulls were built in the mid-1980s and later acquired by Sun Towing for completion in Sun’s own Gulf Coast shipyard. Once back in the Foss shipyard this past spring, Lauren Foss needed little more than an upgrade of her fendering system, a bit of cleaning up and a new paint job, Gallagher said. The Alco diesels had recently been refurbished, and the tug’s double-drum Intercon towing winch was in perfect operating condition, he added. The main drum of the winch now is wrapped with 5,000 feet of 2.5-inch wire, while the secondary drum has 3,000 feet of 2.25-inch wire.

Another recent shipyard improvement was installation of a watermaker to supplement the tug’s existing tankage for 40,000 gallons of potable water. The tug also has Cummins diesel generators with a John Deere emergency generator, a 10-ton hydraulic deck crane, a 2,000-pound Danforth-style anchor with windlass, a Zodiac semi-rigid rescue boat, and a 450-hp hydraulic bow thruster.

Foss Maritime also plans to take delivery of the first of two new 30,000-barrel oil barges from Zidell Marine this summer. The company also hopes to begin construction soon on at least one additional Marshall-class z-drive tugboat for ship-assist work on the West Coast.

By Professional Mariner Staff