G&H Towing: Ready for the LNG to flow

Wesley A on the port bow and Thor on the starboard accompany the LNG tanker Excalibur into Freeport for one of just two deliveries of LNG made to the Texas terminal that opened in 2008.
When the LNG carrier Excalibur called at the Freeport LNG terminal in early May 2008, G&H Towing was ready. It was expected to be a big year for LNG on the Gulf Coast, but that was not to be the case.

One year later, Exmar, a Belgian-based oil and gas shipping company, had dispatched only Excalibur and Excelsior to Freeport.

Capt. Chip Walker driving Lynne Moran.


Last year LNG was in great demand around the world. Terminals serving the U.S. market were having trouble outbidding competitors overseas. The Texas coast is attractive to the LNG industry as a point of entry into the U.S market. It has natural gas pipeline infrastructure to spare and a large local market. Texans, familiar with the natural gas industry, understand that the scrutiny and safety regulations regarding LNG render it relatively safe in the spectrum of volatile products.

Currently, price, demand and the economy are all down. A similar downward shift in the market for LNG occurred in the early 80s. The result was the closing of the Elba Island terminal (built in 1978) on the Savannah River in Georgia. It remained until demand revived this past decade.

Above, Wesley A accompanying Excalibur.

Freeport LNG, the U.S. Coast Guard and G&H Towing, the Galveston-based company that manages Suderman & Young Towing and Bay-Houston Towing, both of Houston, remain ready for the market to shift upwards again.

“LNG shipments into the U.S. Gulf are very slow at this time," said Lamar Doyle, chairman of the board of Suderman & Young. “I don’t know of any specific shipments there; only some generalities.

As of this year, G&H has six Z-Tech tugs available for LNG work, three from Suderman & Young and three from Bay- Houston. Under a joint venture with Moran Towing, G&H also has Lynne Moran, a 70-ton bollard pull, azimuthing stern drive tug stationed permanently on standby for the LNG contract at Freeport.

The Z-Tech tugs Wesley A from Bay-Houston and Thor from Suderman & Young joined Lynne Moran to assist Excalibur, in last year’s shipment.

Lynne Moran is ABS certified FiFi-1, with more than 10,000 gpm pumping capacity through a pair of monitors mounted just aft of the pilothouse. The fire pumps are controlled remotely from the wheelhouse.

All three tugs are highly maneuverable, have 75 tons of bollard pull and are FiFi-1 compliant, meeting all the stringent safety and redundancy standards required for working with LNG ships.

Suderman & Young’s Thor and Bay-Houston Towing’s Wesley A at their berths in Freeport. Both Suderman and Bay-Houston are managed by G&H Towing of Galveston. The tugs are Robert Allan designs generating 6,300 hp and 75 tons of bollard pull.

“On the LNG front, so far, only two ships," said Tom Tray, VP marine division for Bay-Houston Towing. “What does the future hold? I’ve seen analysis ranging from no ships for several years, to quite a few toward the end of this year. My crystal ball is broken when it comes to LNG.


By Professional Mariner Staff