Reinauer refreshes ‘facet tug’ for the Tier 4 era


Reinauer Transportation Co.’s two new articulated tug-barge (ATB) tugboats look much like their predecessors — at least until you reach the engine room.

Senesco Marine of North Kingstown, R.I., delivered Josephine and Kristy Ann a few weeks apart in December 2018. They are the first and second “facet tugs” in Reinauer’s fleet with Tier 4 propulsion, and the first Reinauer tugs built to U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter M standards.

“It’s the first Tier 4 and it’s the first medium-speed engine in this class, so we had a few hurdles to jump through interfacing the controls,” Christian Reinauer, the towing company’s vice president and new construction manager, said during a December vessel tour. “Any time you put a new engine in a boat, a lot of new engineering is going to be involved.”

Josephine and Kristy Ann are powered by twin GE 6L250 mains generating 2,200 hp each at 900 rpm. The GE units are heavier and noticeably larger than the MTU engines in earlier sister tugs — that meant modifying the engine room layout. Slower shaft speeds required different propellers. Installing the engines atop resilient mounts was another seemingly minor change that required design tweaks.

Although the vessel did not receive an ABS class rating, Reinauer generally builds to that standard anyway. As such, meeting Coast Guard Subchapter M rules did not require extensive changes or additions.

Chief engineers Calvin Cheetham, left, and Carl Bendiksen working in December to get Josephine ready for delivery.

Reinauer Transportation operates almost two dozen ATB units from its home base in Staten Island, N.Y. The company primarily carries petroleum and refined products to metro areas in the northeastern United States, but its SOLAS-rated tugs can operate around the world.

Josephine and Kristy Ann are the fourth and fifth Franklin-class tugs. Lead boat B. Franklin Reinauer went to work in 2012, followed by Curtis Reinauer and Haggerty Girls within the next year. The class is slightly smaller than other Reinauer newbuilds and was developed to serve terminals with limited berthing space.

The 106-by-32-foot Josephine and Kristy Ann share the same design characteristics as their forebears. Their “faceted” design utilizes only straight steel in the hull, creating a hard-edged look some liken to military stealth aircraft. These vessels also are known for their full forecastle deck that adds stability and interior space.

Robert Hill of Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering developed plans for the original facet tug in the mid-2000s. The timing coincided with Reinauer’s acquisition of Senesco Marine, prompting a search for a “shipyard-friendly” tugboat design to launch its fleet expansion. The facet tug was born with completion of Ruth M. Reinauer in 2009.

Subsequent design changes yielded two new facet tug classes, the Twins class and Franklin class, both of which are smaller than Ruth M. and its sister tugs. All told, Reinauer now operates 11 facet tugs. The 12th is under construction at Senesco.

Josephine’s comfortable wheelhouse has a modern layout and advanced navigation electronics.

“These boats are built entirely of faceted sections, and … we thought we could do it and pay no penalty for that pushing a barge, and that has turned out to be exactly how it works,” Hill said.

In other words, he added, a design that’s not optimized for wire towing works just as well as a conventional hull when pushing a barge.

The faceted hull concept emerged during World War II when the Navy sought cheap, easy-to-build ships to invade Japan. Reinauer Transportation is the only U.S. company operating facet tugs, but Hill said operators in countries without established shipbuilding industries have shown interest.

Propulsion on Josephine and Kristy Ann contains a mix of old and new. The GE engines replace 2,000-hp MTU 16V 4000 mains on earlier sister tugs, but the Lufkin reduction gears are the same across the class with a different ratio. The engines turn 104-inch props in Nautican nozzles with Nautican triple rudders and pre-swirl stators. EMI Marine provided the steering system.

The tugs are making about 9.5 knots pushing loaded barges, and Reinauer said the Nautican system improves efficiency by about 8 to 10 percent. As such, they’ll pay for themselves in relatively short order.

Propulsion comes from twin 2,200-hp GE Tier 4 engines turning 104-inch props in Nautican nozzles.

Reinauer did its homework on new Tier 4 propulsion before choosing the GE engines. The company has historically installed MTU mains, but when the Josephine/Kristy Ann project was coming together, MTU had not yet released its Tier 4 engine solution. Reinauer favored the GE platform largely because aftertreatment is not required.

“It’s half the rpm and better than twice the torque,” Reinauer said of the 6L250 GE engines. “They are a bit more efficient because they are running a slower speed and running the prop a little slower, so we also get more efficiency.”

Electrical power on Josephine and Kristy Ann comes from two 99-kW Marathon gensets driven by John Deere 6068 engines installed alongside the GE mains. The 99-kW emergency generator is located in a compartment on the main deck.

Josephine spent its first few months in service pushing RTC-107, a 100,000-bbl barge, throughout the northeast. Those are the largest barges in Reinauer’s fleet that operate with the JAK couplers. Bigger tugs in the fleet pair up with higher-capacity barges through Intercon couplers.

The Franklin-class hull is noticeably different than the Ruth- and Twins-class designs. Despite its 32-foot beam, the tug appears much roomier because the forecastle deck runs the width of the hull. This main level has five staterooms, the main head with multiple showers, and the oversized galley outfitted in stainless steel. The mess has seating for at least 12, despite the standard crew complement of seven.

The engine room layout had to be re-engineered to accommodate the larger GE mains and other changes from earlier tugs in the series.

The captain and mate’s rooms are located on the 01 deck along with a shared head. From there, stairs lead through the steel tower to the wheelhouse with a 55-foot height of eye. The wheelhouse features flatscreen displays, a monitor for closed-circuit TV cameras and Furuno and Simrad components.

The tugs are among the first in Reinauer’s fleet equipped with an advanced Furuno electronic chart display information system, or ECDIS. The system is more advanced than standard e-navigation software and effectively eliminates the need for paper charts.

Reinauer acknowledged he doesn’t care much for “glitzy” vessel interiors. That said, these tugs were designed with crew comfort in mind. Amenities include ample insulation, floating floors and sound-damping paint to reduce noise and vibration. These tugs also are Reinauer’s first to feature isolation mounts on medium-speed engines.

“The idea is these guys spend half their life here. This is their home away from home,” Reinauer said, noting that typical hitches last two weeks. “We work on the comforts you need to sleep and do your job.”

Mate Robert Harrigan joined Josephine after working on the 51-year-old Dace Reinauer. Larger staterooms and crew spaces are among the obvious improvements, but there are plenty of others that are more subtle — like heated wheelhouse windows to eliminate fog. Harrigan recalled crew pointing space heaters at foggy windows in some of the older tugs.

The “facet tug” design created by Bob Hill at Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering is made entirely from straight, faceted steel sections. When pushing a barge, the design works just as well  as a conventional hull, Hill says.

“I would almost say I am excited about it,” Harrigan said of joining Josephine. “The bigger space, comfortable rooms, all of that stuff goes a long way.”

Reinauer has built more than 10 tugs in the last decade and has learned some valuable lessons along the way. One decision replaced the seldom-used towing winch with a 25-hp JonRie InterTech capstan to save weight and money.

Another took advantage of myriad redundancies to reduce unplanned work stoppages. The company’s newbuild tugs come with three generators where two are required, backup wash water pumps, water heaters and HVAC units.

These two tugs are among the select few in the company fleet without the Reinauer surname. The company formerly ran the pushboat Kristy Ann Reinauer, named for someone with a different last name. Meanwhile, Josephine aligns with Reinauer’s longtime romantic partner, Josephine Killen. It’s also the name of a tug his father operated many years ago.

Given the history involved, there are high expectations for these vessels. So far, they are meeting the challenge.

Highlights: First ‘facet tugs’ with Tier 4 engines • Reinauer’s first Subchapter M vessel • Full forecastle deck stability, interior space
By Professional Mariner Staff