Golding brings on new towboats, barges

Golding Barge Line, the relatively new inland barging company based in Vicksburg, Miss., continues to expand its fleet with new barges and towboats, the latest being a 2,400 hp boat with a retractable pilothouse.

Golding, founded by Steve Golding, former owner and operator of Ole Man River Towing, is focused on the transportation of clean petroleum products throughout the inland waterway system.

The company’s newest vessel is the Stephen Austin Golding, named after Steve Golding’s son. The 94-foot vessel has recently been delivering various products on the lower Mississippi and into the Atchafalaya and Ouachita Rivers, pushing a pair of 30,000-barrel barges.

“She does not necessarily have to have the retractable pilothouse for what she’s doing now,” said Mike Quinton, manager of barge operations, “but there are certain times of the year when the water comes up and it just makes it a lot easier, especially when operating the upper end of the river. Plus there are a couple of bridges in the area of Monroe, Louisiana, where you would have to wait if you had a conventional boat.”

The tug’s pilothouse can be retracted to deck level or extended to a 28-foot height of eye in about 60 seconds using an electric/hydraulic ram. A ladder at the back of the pilothouse rolls back and forth on the boat deck as the unit is raised or lowered.

The Stephen Austin Golding follows another retractable boat, the 3,000 hp Angie Golding, which was introduced new by the company about a year earlier.

Including these two vessels, Golding is currently operating 33 tank barges, most of them chartered, with about a dozen towboats. Additional new towboats, mostly of conventional design, are under construction and expected to be delivered later this year and in 2007.

With two vessels featuring retractable pilothouses in its fleet, Golding would also be in a position to move barges in and out of the Chicago area where there are many waterways with low bridges. The Chicago River and an affiliated canal provide the only connection for waterborne commerce between the Great Lakes and the inland river system.

The Stephen Austin Golding was delivered earlier this year from Quality Shipyards in Houma, La. Corning Townsend of CT Marine designed the vessel’s hull and running gear.

The Caterpillar-powered boat was built with particular emphasis on crew comfort and quiet, according to Golding. Four bunkrooms are built into the forward end of the main deck house, all segregated from the engine room by a hallway that also provides access to two washrooms. The forward walls of the engine room are layered with three inches of insulation with a lead membrane and perforated aluminum sheeting, according to design specifications. A door at the forward end of the main deck house leads directly to the wheelhouse when it is in its lowered position, a feature considered convenient to crewmembers when operating in bad weather or at night.

The Cat power package includes a pair of 3512-BII diesels rated at 1,300 hp each at 1,200 rpm. These engines, provided by Louisiana Machinery Power Systems, are connected to Reintjes reduction gears and a pair of 84-inch Aqualoy variable pitch propellers with an anti-cavitation treatment at their trailing edges.

Maneuvering of the two steering rudders and four flanking rudders is handled through a Skipper electro-hydraulic system with three pumps and three fluid reservoirs. The steering rudders can be shifted from side to side in 12 seconds, according to Golding.

Wheelhouse electronics include Furuno radar, electronic charting from Cap’n Voyager, Furuno GPS, AIS and depth sounder, Icom radios and DeHart swing meter.


On deck are Patterson deck winches, Nabrico deck fittings, a McElroy capstan and fendering by M&M.

Tankage within the hull includes 28,000 gallons for fuel, 9,000 gallons for potable water, 1,6000 gallons for lube oil, 1,500 gallons for waste oil and 2,000 gallons for bilge water.

Auxiliary power comes from a pair of John Deere 6068 diesel generators.

When pushing its pair of 30,000-barrel barges, the crew typically assembles them side by side when empty, as that has the effect of reducing sail area exposed to wind, according to Quinton. But when the barges are loaded, the crew tends to arrange them in line-ahead, he added.

Stephen Austin Golding is set up to use synthetic “plasma” lines from Puget Sound Rope instead of wire for connection lines between tug and barges. “No one is out there struggling with wires anymore,” said Quinton, “and we’ve gone with a heavier size line that allows you to reduce the number of parts involved with securing the barges to the boat.”


Both the Stephen Austin Golding and the Angie Golding run with a six-person crew: two wheelsmen, two tankermen and two deckhands. The tug’s senior captain is Todd Hundley, while Earl Conner is the relief captain.

By Professional Mariner Staff