Moran bolsters Norfolk fleet with beamy 93-footer


East Coast ports are competing for the larger containerships now moving through the Panama Canal, and tugboat companies that work these harbors are bulking up to meet demand. Moran Towing’s 6,000-hp Clayton W. Moran, which arrived in the Port of Virginia in March, is the latest example.

Clayton is the 12th boat in a proven line of 93-by-38-by-15.5-foot z-drive tugboats designed and built by Washburn & Doughty of East Boothbay, Maine. The 13th boat and the first with Tier 4 Caterpillar engines is under construction now.

Like its predecessors, Clayton W. Moran features twin EMD 12-710 mains paired with Schottel 1515 FP z-drives turning 102-inch props in nozzles. All tugs are rated for at least 80 tons of bollard pull with an ABS escort certification. Ship service power comes from a pair of John Deere 99-kW gensets, while a Caterpillar C32 engine drives the FFS fire pump capable of 10,200 gallons per minute.

Two aft-facing FFS monitors can be deployed during emergencies.

Courtesy Moran Towing

Moran Towing Corp., headquartered in New Canaan, Conn., operates tugs in 17 ports along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico, and its 93-foot tugs are currently working in Miami, New York, Norfolk and Savannah, among others. Clayton adds another beefy workhorse to Moran’s 13-tug Norfolk operation, which already has two 6,000-hp siblings in Maxwell Paul Moran and Jack T. Moran. Moran’s New York operation has four of these escort-rated tugs.

“The Clayton will complement our already expansive fleet in Norfolk and prepare us for handling larger deep-draft vessels,” Ron Droop, a Moran vice president, said recently.

The Port of Virginia was one of the first ports called by the 10,000-TEU MOL Benefactor last year, and the vessel now makes regular stops there. Meanwhile, the port is expecting regular calls from the 13,000-TEU COSCO Development starting in May. 

“The big ships are here,” Joe Harris, spokesman for The Port of Virginia, said.

Capt. David Culbertson pictured at the controls.

Courtesy Moran Towing

Moran’s 93-by-38-foot tugboats were designed with an enhanced escort keel, winch and increased beam to handle these types of vessels. This tug type evolved from an earlier class of 92-by-32-foot tugboats also built by Washburn & Doughty. Bruce Washburn, the yard’s naval architect, said the 38-foot beam allows for more powerful engines and also better indirect escort stability. Additional freeboard on deck also helps with escort performance.

“They also wanted a good, wide bow to minimize the forces they put on a ship when pushing on it with full power. We did that with a well-rounded bow plus a fairly high, long length of fendering, between two 24-inch cylindrical fenders and soft laminate below that,” Washburn said in a recent interview, referring to Moran.

The wider beam also translates into more space for the crew. In the z-drive compartment and parts of the engine room, for instance, it’s possible to reach one’s arms straight out and spin 360 degrees without bumping into machinery.

Engineer Josh Wiggins makes his rounds in the engine room. Clayton’s 38-foot beam allows for comfortable crew and mechanical spaces.

Courtesy Moran Towing

The 93-foot class has evolved bit by bit since the lead boat, James A. Moran, was delivered in late 2011. All new tugs must undergo a robust safety performance review after each delivery. Many additional enhancements come from an ergonomics expert who reviews and recommends changes on board in regard to human interaction. This includes items such as crew comfort, electronics and engineering system interaction, ladders and handrails. Recent deliveries are outfitted with performance-monitoring equipment aimed at finding efficiencies and reducing environmental impacts, the company said.

Crews in busy harbor tugs spend long periods on board, putting a premium on comfort. Clayton’s amenities include TV and high-speed Internet in the four cabins. There are three heads and two showers, a washer-dryer unit and separate climate controls in each cabin.

Vibration and engine noise are absorbed through acoustic ceiling tiles and flooring consisting of Endura tiles on top of fireproof plywood and Soundown urethane foam inserts.

Improvements to Moran’s earlier 93-foot tugs made it into Clayton as well. These include closed-circuit camera systems that let crew see what’s happening above, below and on deck from the helm, and brighter, more efficient LED lights in crew spaces, for navigation and for use as floodlights.

Moran installed a Markey DEPCF-52 winch on Clayton’s bow.

Courtesy Moran Towing

The wheelhouse layout and equipment on Clayton W. Moran are virtually unchanged from recent deliveries in the series, a deliberate move aimed at consistency across the fleet. It features the same tall windows with 360-degree visibility and Furuno navigation equipment. The Furuno package includes NavNet 3D touch-screen radars and electronic chart displays, an FA150 AIS and SC30 satellite compass.

Clayton has a 75-hp Markey DEPCF-52 Class II electric hawser winch on the bow with render-recover to maintain constant line tension. The drum is capable of holding 400 feet of 9-inch line. Also on deck is a two-speed Markey CEW-60 electric capstan. To meet the operational demands of handling larger ships, this winch is a step up from the winches installed on the earlier 93-foot tugs.

Clayton’s sister vessel Cooper Moran was delivered in fall 2016. It currently works in Savannah, where it has performed well.

Clayton W. Moran will operate with four to six crew for most jobs. Pictured from left are Capt. David Culbertson, deck hand Ricky Davis, engineer Josh Wiggins and mate Lee More.

Courtesy Moran Towing

Ships in the 10,000-TEU range regularly call on Savannah, and Droop said Cooper Moran has the power and bollard pull to safely handle the new Panamax ships with deeper drafts. He expects the same performance from Clayton, a near-identical twin.

“As it is a larger horsepower tug with efficient escort capability, it gives the pilot and bridge team a useful tool and asset for them in doing their jobs safely and without worrying about minimizing the horsepower on their ship,” he said in a recent interview.

The 13th boat in the 93-foot series is under construction now. But as a Tier 4 boat, it required another foot of hull depth to accommodate larger engines and the urea-based aftertreatment system. Unlike the Tier 3 class powered by EMD mains, the Tier 4 tug will have more powerful Caterpillar 3156E engines, each producing 3,385 hp. The additional foot of depth also maximizes escort performance based on a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) study conducted by Glosten Associates of Seattle.

Moran’s 93-foot tugs have received complimentary reviews from crews, customers and pilots over the years. In many ports where Moran works, these are the most powerful tugs in the harbor.

Highlights: 12th and final tug in 93-foot class with Tier 3 engines • Built to escort and dock large containerships • Assigned to Norfolk, Va.
By Professional Mariner Staff