Ten years ago, American Tugboat Review reported on Marine Towing of Tampa’s (MTT) transition to ASD propulsion with the delivery of three 92-by-32-foot tugs from Washburn & Doughty. Independent was delivered in 2004, followed by Freedom in 2005 and Liberty in 2007.

This year, MTT sold Independent to McAllister Towing to make way for the 93-by-38-foot ASD tug Patriot, also built in Maine at Washburn & Doughty’s East Boothbay yard. Independent was renamed Moira McAllister and moved to McAllister’s Charleston, S.C., operations.

The fourth tug in the MTT fleet, Endeavor, is one of the ship docking modules developed by Hvide Marine, now Seabulk Towing, in the late 1990s. “That’s the number of tugs we want to stay at,” said Jim Brantner Jr., MTT’s port captain and son of the company’s vice president, James C. Brantner.

The tug is rated FiFi-1. Its firefighting capabilities include a deluge system.

The six-foot greater beam of Patriot over Independent provides more stability for escort work, as does the 17-foot draft, a five-foot increase over the smaller tugs. “The deeper draft was partly due to the wider design, but the tug also has a box keel for escort work and that brings the draft down more,” said the younger Brantner. “We don’t do a lot of escort work, but the tug will perform better when it is required to do so.”

There are more differences between the 32s and the 38s than breadth and depth, including box coolers in lieu of keel coolers, full ABS FiFi-1 firefighting capability and a step up to Tier 3 Caterpillar main engines and Tier 2 auxiliaries.

Patriot’s extra girth is the gift that keeps on giving. The enlarged dimensions make possible larger, more comfortable living quarters and galley. The tug carries a crew of three consisting of captain, mate and an engineer. “There isn’t much deck work to do, so the engineer and mate take care of it,” said Brantner Jr.

Brantner Sr. added that the company would replace the 32s with 38s over time. “We’ll probably build another one in a couple of years,” he said.

“The whole engine room layout is very good,” said Chief Engineer Aaron Oberholtzer. “There are no obstructions overhead and the clean layout is very well lighted with LED lights. Even the bilge is lighted.”

Capt. Mark Barthle

Oberholtzer added that the ventilation system is equipped with variable-speed blowers that are automated and adjust with the speed of the engine while the vessel is underway, making for a quiet engine room.

The propulsion train on Patriot consists of two Caterpillar 2,575-hp, Tier 3, 3516 C mains connected with carbon-fiber shafts to Rolls-Royce US 205 z-drives and 95-inch, four-blade, stainless-steel propellers.

The tug has two 5,983-gpm FFS 1200 monitors on the upper deck.

“With steel shafts you have U-joints at both ends, said Oberholtzer. “But with carbon fiber, there is only one bearing, so it is much smoother with less vibration and requires less maintenance.”

The FFS SFP fire pump, driven by a 1,300-hp Caterpillar C32 engine, feeds two FFS 1200 monitors on the upper deck at 5,983 gpm each. Auxiliary power is supplied by two John Deere 6068TFM76, 1,800-rpm, 99-kW, three-phase generators.

On the bow is a JonRie escort winch. The Manahawkin, N.J., company designed the Super Series 220 escort winch to accommodate larger capacity rope.

JonRie owner Brandon Durar explained that the double-drum concept was developed and used on the Panama Canal to add a redundant line tethered to the ship and also as an escort bridle that stabilizes the tug in the prop wash during long escorts. MTT will primarily be treating the second drum as a backup. “If we have an issue with one of the lines, we put the other line up,” said Brantner Jr.


The JonRie 220 double-drum hydraulic escort winch with 400 feet of 9-inch line per drum.

Both drums also feature JonRie’s active heave compensation to keep a constant tension on the line. “If you set the tension for 20,000 pounds and it goes to 19,000 pounds, you are hauling in. If it’s 21,000 pounds, you are paying out,” said Durar.

On the aft deck is a JonRie 512 hydraulic towing winch with 2,000 feet of 2-inch wire. The winch has an independent-drive level wind and independent-driven gypsy head. The Auto Tow System for JonRie’s Series 500 towing winches protects the winch from surges by relieving tension on the towline and then bringing the line back to its original set tension point.

The 500 series also integrates GPS technology between the tug and tow that indicates the amount of wire paid out as well as the real distance between the tug and the tow. An alarm will sound if the tow is closing on the tug and about to overrun it; the same if the tow is falling too far behind the tug.

“When things go really south and the tow breaks loose and disappears out of sight, you can find it because it’s packing a GPS unit,” said Durar.

The system also calculates catenary, an important feature when towing in shallow water.

One of the two Caterpillar 2,575-hp 3516B Tier 3 main engines.

The winches have design features to protect them from corrosion. “The winches are boxed in to keep water out, so we don’t have corrosion issues,” said Otis Monteiro, MTT’s port engineer. “Typically the winches have been mounted on angle iron foundations. The area beneath the angle iron is difficult to coat during construction and difficult to reach and maintain when it eventually corrodes. We also kept the exposed vent tubes to a minimum, and the ones we do have are stainless. All of the port lights and escape hatch and the pilothouse window frames are stainless.”

MTT chose Weka box coolers as opposed to keel coolers. Bruce Washburn of Washburn & Doughty explained that the Weka box coolers present a clean bottom because they are mounted inside the boat’s skin. “That should reduce the drag on the hull and give the boat a slight edge in performance,” he said.

“The size requirements for keel coolers has grown significantly with the increased emission standards and on these high-horsepower vessels, they take up a lot of real estate on the bottom,” said Washburn.

Although the units are better protected from damage, Washburn added that if damage does occur, repairs or replacement can be carried out without dry-docking. On the other hand, he pointed out that a keel cooler does not encroach on the engine room’s space; and the piping, which is usually confined to the bilge, does not compete with all overhead piping and electrical routed overhead in the machine areas.

The tug has two Rolls-Royce US 205 z-drives. They turn 95-inch, four-blade props.

Patriot will be working in MTT’s area of operations which extends 42 miles from the port to the sea buoy, an area that includes Tampa Bay, Old Tampa Bay and the 25-mile run out to Port Manatee. “We split the work here in Tampa about 50/50 with Seabulk,” said Norman Atkins, MTT’s director of operations.

The bulk of MTT’s work is with ships carrying refined petroleum products from Texas and Louisiana. “We also do all of the Crowley ATBs that call here and the OSG boats,” said Atkins. “And we do the phosphate ships, domestic and foreign.”

The FFS SFP fire pump is powered by a 1,300-hp Caterpillar C32 diesel engine.

MTT has established an International Safety Management (ISM) system specifically tailored to the company and the tugs, a system that covers myriad items, including crew training, boat maintenance schedules, safety policy and training, environmental issues and record keeping. The company employs the Blue Box system for data recording and ABS’s Nautical NS5 software. Patriot has 10 CCTV cameras that cover the engine room, pilothouse and fore and aft decks.

During a familiarization tour in the harbor, it became apparent that the crew and MTT management were happy with all things Patriot. The crew appreciate the quiet and smooth operation of the vessel and the level of living comfort afforded by the increase in beam and the interior finish treatments. Management, among other things, is delighted with the crew appreciation and with the lagniappe provided by Washburn & Doughty.

“They promised us 60 tons of bollard pull and we got 75 tons certified,” said Brantner Jr.

By Professional Mariner Staff