Great Lakes Shipyard unveils low-power tug

Crowley’s Vigilant, a 6,772-hp z-drive tug chartered from Baydelta Maritime, will provide escort services in Cook Inlet, Alaska.

As fuel prices continue to skyrocket, a century-old Midwestern tug company is introducing a new line of low-powered tugs as it expands its Cleveland shipyard.

Great Lakes Shipyard of Cleveland held a naming ceremony for its first “handysize” tug, Handy-One, on April 11. The new tug successfully completed its sea trials in February. The shipyard is part of The Great Lakes Group, which includes the ship chartering company, Tugz International LLC and the well-known Great Lakes Towing Co., which was founded over a century ago.

This is the first of a new line of low-powered tugs that the shipyard is building. “It was based on a foreseen fuel consumption crunch,” said William M. Convery, sales and marketing manager for The Great Lakes Group. “It’s being marketed as just the right size with just the right power. That’s what makes it fuel efficient — anything more than that is overkill.”

The boat’s JonRie InterTech A525 towing winch.

Great Lakes has used the term handysize to describe this new line of tugs, which are less than 79 feet long, less than 100 tons, with 2,400 to 3,200 hp and can be operated by a two-man crew, with just one of them a licensed operator, according to Convery.

Handy-One is 74 feet long, 30 feet wide with a draft of 11 feet. The tug is powered by two Cummins QSK38 engines for total of 2,800 hp at 1,800 rpm. The engines turn two 72-inch diameter Kaplan-type four-blade Rice Aqualoy propellers. They are inside type 37 stainless-steel-lined Kort nozzle manufactured by Custom Nozzle Fabricators Inc. of Pascagoula, Miss.
The new line is designed for the market for 2,400- to 3,200-hp tugs for harbor work, fireboats, construction operations and coastal towing, according to Convery. It is designed for seven- to 10-day coastal service with a 25,340-gallon fuel tank and a 1,855- gallon potable water tank. The line can be built with either a z-drive or with nozzled twin-screw conventional propulsion.

The 74-foot Handy-One is powered by two Cummins QSK38 engines that generate a total of 2,800 hp at 1,800 rpm.

The handysize class will be built to an American Bureau of Shipping ice-class hull standard for sturdiness and icebreaking. Tighter framing in the bow and stern and an increased half-inch hull thickness will increase the tug’s useful life. It was designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants of Seattle.

JonRie InterTech LLC of Manahawkin, N.J., built the aft towing winch. It is a Series 500 winch with a capacity of 2,000 feet of 1.75-inch diameter hawser. The winch has a line pull of 70,000 pounds, a line speed of 30 fpm and a brake holding force of 265,000 pounds. As with all Series 500 winches, it has an independent drive level wind that can be operated from the pilothouse or boat deck.
“It is all operated from the boat deck and you have a clear line of sight down to the winch,” said Brandon Durar, president of JonRie InterTech.
All gypsy head options — that is involving horizontal rather than vertical capstans — are also independent drive with no chains or guards.
On the handysize line, there is an option to add a JonRie InterTech Series 230 hawser winch, using the same power unit as the aft towing winch.
Great Lakes Shipyard decided on this size tug after “we built a series of 4,000- to 5,000-hp tugs … and we came to the conclusion that the additional horsepower was rarely used, if ever,” said Convery.
Great Lakes Towing Co. has operated on the Great Lakes since its founding in July 1899. Its founding shareholders included John D. Rockefeller, Jeptha H. Wade (one of the founders of Western Union) and James R. Sinclair. Many of the company’s tugs operating on the Great Lakes were built between 1903 and 1930.
Convery said the shipyard is planning to build six of these handysize tugs annually.
The company just received approval to expand its Cleveland shipyard complex. Plans are to build a 40,000-square-foot fabrication facility on an additional 2.3 acres of land. A new boat slip will be excavated and 700-ton travel lift will be added to allow simultaneous construction and repair of multiple boats and barges.
The expansion is part of a new, $4 million headquarters and shipyard complex on a five-acre waterfront parcel in the Old River Channel of the Cuyahoga River that opened in February 2007. The company ultimately plans for a $14 million complex on this site.
Alaska Titan launched in Seattle

Western Towboat launched the fifth tug in its Titan class at its Seattle shipyard on March 4. Alaska Titan will join the other Titan tugs towing Alaska Railbelt Marine barges with rail freight cars from the terminal in Seattle to Whittier, Alaska, for Alaska Marine Lines.
Alaska Titan is the fifth in its class to join the Western Towboat fleet. The 5,000-hp tug will join two others towing rail barges between Seattle and Whittier, Alaska.

Western Towboat makes the run to Whittier every Wednesday. It takes 13 to 14 days to make the trip, weather permitting, according to Ric Shrewsbury, the company’s co-owner. Alaska Titan will join the 4,500-hp z-drive Gulf Titan and the 5,000-hp z-drive Ocean Titan in making the Alaska run.
Alaska Titan is 120 feet long, 35 feet wide with a depth of 20 feet. The tug has two Caterpillar 3516-B/LS engines that each provide 2,500 hp at 1,600 rpm. The engines power Schottel z-drives with 2,500-mm nozzles. It has a fuel capacity of 120,000 gallons and can accommodate 11 crewmembers in five staterooms.
The first tug of the Titan class, the 108-foot Western Titan, was built in 1997. Western Towboat has not made many changes to the Titan class, except to lengthen it to 120 feet. “We’ve added a little bit more fuel capacity and given it a little better sea-keeping ability on the ocean,” said Shrewsbury.
The z-drive is essential for these tugs in docking, since “on the north end, there is really nobody there,” said Shrewsbury. “It’s reliable — we know we can get into the dock under most conditions,” he said.
Alaska Titan has heated windows, central heating and air conditioning, a fully equipped galley and custom woodwork throughout. “We make it as nice as we can,” Shrewsbury said.

Alaska Titan actually won’t start service until June. “We wanted to get it off our building site so we could start on another one,” Shrewsbury said. As of the launch date, the interior work had not been finished.

The next tug will be another in the Titan class, and is to be finished in two years. “We try to keep up with our customers and make sure we have the gear they want in the future.”

Western Towboat employs 25 at its yard and does all the repair, maintenance and construction. The company also operates 20 tugs.

America christened at J.M. Martinac
America, a new AZ-30/80 class tug, was christened on Feb. 23. Built by J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding of Tacoma, Wash., the new ship/handling tug was designed by Robert Allan Ltd. America is being leased by Foss Maritime Co. of Seattle from Signet Maritime Corp.

The 6,600-hp z-drive tug was outfitted with an enhanced, double-loop fendering system made by Schuyler Rubber Co. of Woodinville, Wash. In addition, the tug has SSR-WB upper bow fendering provided by Schuyler in conjunction with Shibata Industrial Co. of Hyogo, Japan.

Schuyler developed the first enhanced loop fender in 1992 for Foss. They were looking for a fender that could absorb more energy and displace that energy evenly throughout the hull, according to Greg Armfield, co-owner of Schuyler Rubber. In addition, the switch to high horsepower tugs in the 1980s and 1990s meant that fenders had to change. New fenders built by Schuyler and tested by Foss marked a significant advance over the traditional hard laminated or extruded fenders the company had been building since 1950, Armfield said.
In 1997, Schuyler began doubling the loops to provide a longer-lasting fender. “The more loops you put on, the stiffer it becomes and the more it deflects energy or dissipates it over a wide area,” Armfield said. In 2000, the company received a patent for its looped fendering systems.
More recently, the company has made advances in terms of providing different style loops and using a thicker piece of rubber in the loops, Armfield said. “We’ve gone to a lot of stainless-steel hardware internally,” which increases the fenders’ longevity. In 2002, the company began making triple-loop fenders.
Vigilant joins Valor in Alaska service
Crowley Maritime Corp. took delivery on Feb. 27 of Vigilant, a new 6,772-hp z-drive tug that is being chartered from Baydelta Maritime Inc. for use in Crowley’s ship escort business in Cook Inlet, Alaska.

The tug will be stationed year-round at the Tesoro Alaska Co.’s Nikiski refinery in Cook Inlet to help provide safety and environmental protection for oil tankers docking there.

The tug’s hull has been strengthened for use in ice, with an additional three-eighths-inch thick belt of steel along the hull, which adds 80 tons of steel to the boat. The decks are heated, along with some of the tanks.

Vigilant was built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders Inc. of Freeland, Wash. It is the second tug of its class acquired by Crowley. Last year Crowley took delivery of sister ship Valor for use in its Pacific Northwest and Alaska operations.
Vigilant is 100 feet long, 40 feet wide and has a loaded draft of 19 feet 3 inches. The tug’s fuel capacity is 70,000 gallons and it carries 8,000 gallons of potable water.
The new tug is powered by two Caterpillar 3516-C engines for a total horsepower of 6,772. The z-drive units are two Rolls-Royce Aquamasters.
The bow winch is a Markey DEPCF-52. The tow winch is a JonRie InterTech model A525 with line pull up to 200,000 pounds. The winch has 2,500 feet of 2.5-inch hawser. On Vigilant, JonRie was asked to provide a gypsy head.
ACL signs contract to build liquid and dry-cargo barges
American Commercial Lines of Jeffersonville, Ind., announced in January that it signed a six-year multivessel contract to build both liquid and dry-cargo barges, according to the company. The contract is valued at $100 million; the company did not state who the customer was. Construction on the vessels will begin this year.
By Professional Mariner Staff