Kirby selects Furuno electronics for next-generation towboats

(CAMAS, Wash.) — Kirby Inland Marine has selected Furuno as the electronics of choice for its new generation of Subchapter M towboats. The first of three new vessels, M/V Bailey, will soon enter service into the Kirby fleet of over 300 towboats and nearly 1,000 inland barges operating in U.S. waters. The bridge features state-of-the-art Furuno electronics such as high-powered radar, GPS, AIS, depth sensors and more. This 88-foot towboat was built at the Main Iron Works facility in Houma, La., and has been designed from the keel up to comply with recently implemented Subchapter M requirements.

U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter M regulations now in place apply to any U.S. flagged towing vessel over 26 feet in length, or any vessel under 26 feet that is carrying oil or any other potentially hazardous material. These mandates, along with existing regulations, stipulate minimum requirements for navigation and operational equipment, and Kirby looked to Furuno and electronics installer Inland Gulf Marine to fill these critical roles.

At the heart of the electronics selected by Kirby and Inland Gulf Marine are two 12-kW Furuno FAR2117BB radars. The FAR2117BB delivers Furuno's target detection and sophisticated signal processing techniques, developed over decades of experience and thousands of commercial marine applications. Furuno's FA170 AIS and GP33 GPS Navigator feed position and AIS information to the ship's navigation systems. The Furuno 235DT depth sensor provides precise information, and the RD33 Navigation Data Organizer can display this high-accuracy data along with other information sets.

Accommodations for up to eight crew and passengers means this new generation of towboats is subject to further Subchapter M regulations. Additional safety measures must be in place on vessels with overnight accommodations and alternating watches when pulling, pushing or hauling, and among these is a system to detect when a master or mate becomes incapacitated. Referred to as a pilothouse alerter system, Kirby and Inland Gulf Marine chose the Furuno BR500 BNWAS to fill this need. The BR500 monitors the pilot's presence in the wheelhouse. If the pilot is unable to interact with the system within predefined periods of time, crewmembers will be notified, and appropriate actions can  be taken to secure the safe operation of the vessel.

Based in Houston, Texas, Kirby Corp. operates the largest inland and offshore tank barge fleet in the U.S., operating on our inland waterways and along all three coastlines, plus Alaska, and Hawaii. Inland Gulf Marine is an Elite Furuno dealer and ABS-approved service provider located in La Porte, Texas.

For more information on Furuno Marine Electronics, contact Furuno U.S.A., 4400 N.W. Pacific Rim Blvd., Camas, WA 98607. Phone: (360) 834-9300. Web:

By Professional Mariner Staff