Providence Steamboat, a small, family-operated tug company in Rhode Island, has been steadily upgrading its fleet of ship-assist tugs, the latest improvement being the addition of a twin-screw, 4,800 hp conventional tug named Maurania III.
Introduced in mid-2005, the new tug was built at the company’s own shipyard on the nearby Fall River. Her introduction followed that of a 5,000 hp, z-drive tractor tug, Rainbow, delivered from the Washburn & Doughty shipyard in East Boothbay, Maine, the year before.
Providence Steamboat, operated by Duncan H. Mauran and other family members, is presumably using its new tugs to take the place of some older, single-screw tugs that still wear the olive green colors of this traditional company. Founded in 1881 by Frank Mauran, who began operating steam-powered vessels on Narragansett Bay, the company has been run by the same family for four generations.
These are the first new tugs ever built by Providence Steamboat, which has previously acquired second-hand tugs from the industry for its fleet of about half a dozen vessels.
This company is the only general service tug company offering ship-assist services on Narragansset Bay, which includes the small port city of Newport, as well as Providence, and a handful of commercial piers and oil terminals. A number of cruise ships also call at Newport during the summer months.
The company has its base and docks at the head of navigable waters on the Providence River, just outside the massive hurricane floodgates that were built in the mid-1900s to prevent storm-related flood damage.
Maurania III was designed with a 100-foot, single-chine hull and an upswept area leading to the stern intended to make as much water available to the propellers as possible. The tug, with EMD power, has a traditional appearance except for the lack of curved surface areas. She has H-bitts fore and aft, but no winches. Fendering is substantial forward of the beam, but minimal in the stern sections. Like all of the Providence tugs, she carries a golden eagle figure atop the pilothouse.
Providence Steamboat, as it works to modernize its fleet, is on the edge of a potentially valuable playing field involving possible LNG terminals to be constructed in its area. Although plans for a terminal within Providence harbor have been turned down by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), plans for a much larger LNG importation terminal at Weaver’s Cove on the Fall River have been approved by the FERC. These plans are currently tied up in lawsuits, however. In addition, other developers have proposed a gas terminal to be located just offshore from coastal Rhode Island with final cargo delivery by pipeline leading ashore. While Providence Steamboat is well positioned with its new 5,000 hp tractor tug, Rainbow, right in the neighborhood, other Northeast tug companies like Boston Towing, Moran, McAllister and even Thames Towing have more equipment, capabilities and experience regarding LNG tankers.
Rainbow was designed to comply with FiFi-1 firefighting requirements, and the tug could easily be retrofitted with pumps, pump engines and all the related gear to bring her up to speed for LNG work.