New Navy workboat stout, practical and ready for duty


With sea trials completed, Brett Snow eased the first in a new series of U.S. Navy workboats into Ballard Locks on Seattle’s Lake Washington Ship Canal. Paul Torrey, project manager for the Snow & Company shipyard, and Brett Piper, outfitting manager, tied off against the lock wall. Although still without its specified Navy paint, the 41-foot tugboat essentially was finished ahead of its April delivery date.

Once the water level in the lock chamber equalized with Salmon Bay, Snow guided the workboat toward the shipyard a few hundred yards away. Snow & Company is shoehorned into a plethora of maritime vendors, fishing vessels and recreational boats lining the bay.

The sturdy steel-hulled boat is referred to as Workboat Large No. 1 at the Snow yard — but officially, in Navy-speak, it’s 41WB1701.

“They don’t call it a tugboat,” said Snow, who is president of the company. “They call it a workboat. While it’s set up for pushing and towing, it is also designed for general operation in the Navy yard.”

Workboat Large is the first newbuild in an eight-boat contract, with options for 26 more. The first four of the 41-by-17-foot boats will be transported to Norfolk, Va., on two trucks: one hauling the steel hull, and the other carrying the removable aluminum wheelhouse. The other four boats are destined for Japan by ship.

The vessels, solid in build and practical in layout, were designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants to meet the Navy’s requirement to supply shore installations, and perform various port operations and barrier-tending duties. The specifications require the vessels to be highly maneuverable and capable of assisting barges, submarines and other naval vessels.

A pair of Cummins QSM11 455-hp main engines deliver a total of 910 horsepower.

The workboats feature a propulsion chain optimized for bollard pull, a climate-controlled cabin for comfort, and the capacity to carry up to five passengers and a 3,100-pound payload.

Propulsion is provided by twin 455-hp Cummins QSM11 engines shafted to four-blade, 41-by-39-inch, Kaplan-style propellers through ZF W325 gears at a 4:1 reduction. The bollard pull is 22,000 pounds.

The nibral props, supplied by Olympic Propeller of Anacortes, Wash., are housed in 37A Kort nozzles built at the Snow yard. “A Kort nozzle, or ducted propeller, can increase bollard pull by as much as 30 percent,” Snow said.

On deck are forward and aft H-bitts, shoulder and quarter bitts, and two 35,000-pound Pullmaster H18 hydraulic deck winches with roller chocks fore and aft. There is an 8,000-pound Maximum Performance Hydraulics deck capstan and an option for a 500-pound davit and davit winch.

Snow & Company’s primary focus is ship repair, specifically fishing vessels plying the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. Seattle is awash in such boats, which are worked hard on the fishing grounds and often are in need of repairs during the off-season. But the yard also has gained a reputation for quality aluminum seine skiffs for the Alaska salmon fishery.

The Navy contract is a move toward more new commercial construction for the shipyard, and Snow hopes to attract more of these projects in the future.


Project manager Paul Torrey ties off the tug at Ballard Locks.


Pullmaster deck winches on the bow run line back through sheaves, then forward to face up to barges or other vessels.


Push knees at the bow allow the 41-foot workboat to make up barge tows and assist submarines.


Brett Snow, president of Snow & Company, mans the helm as the newbuild heads back to the shipyard on Seattle’s Salmon Bay.

Workboat Large 41WB1701 specifications

Owner/operator: U.S. Navy, Washington, D.C.
Designer/builder: Jensen Maritime Consultants, Seattle, Wash./Snow & Company, Seattle, Wash.
Dimensions: L: 41’ B: 17’ D: 6’
Crew size: Two, with up to five passengers

• (2) Cummins QSM11, 455 hp each at 2,100 rpm
• ZF W325 gearbox, 4:1 reduction ratio
• Bollard pull: 22,000 pounds
• Vessel speed: 9 knots

• Fuel: 1,220 gallons
• Hydraulic fluid: 80 gallons

• (2) Pullmaster H18 hydraulic winches
• Maximum Performance Hydraulics capstan
• Schuyler Companies fendering

• Furuno TZTL12F NavNet TZtouch2 multifunction display
• Furuno radar, GPS and heading sounder
• (2) Standard Horizon VHF radios


By Professional Mariner Staff