Six-cylinder tugs prove their mettle in Mobile Bay

On a crisp day in early January, the Crescent Towing tugboat Lisa Cooper crossed the Mobile River and joined the shiny new tug J.K. McLean at the C&G Boat Works dock. Both tugs, twins in every respect, moved off together to meet the 790-foot tanker SPT Challenger in Mobile Bay.

The six-cylinder Crescent Towing tugboats Lisa Cooper and J.K. McLean operate in tandem in Mobile Bay. (Brian Gauvin photo)

Lisa Cooper, delivered in May, 2010, is the first ASD tug in Crescent's Mobile, Ala., fleet. Crescent Towing, a Cooper/T. Smith company, has operations in Mobile, Savannah, Ga., and New Orleans. A third hull was under construction in the C&G yard.

"The best thing about this tug (Lisa Cooper) is that, once I got used to it, it's made my life much easier," said Capt. Chris Walker. Walker trained on the ASD tugs in Crescent's New Orleans and Savannah fleets, and he appreciates the time and effort the company allows for training captains who are new to the world of z-drive propulsion.

The tugs have a JonRie model 230 assist winch, rated at 350,000 lbs, on the bow, and a JonRie model 200 hawser winch, rated at 175,000 lbs, on the stern. The fire monitor is manufactured by the German company, Albach GmbH & Co., and generates 4,000 gpm at 107 psi.

The crew of the year-old vessel Lisa Cooper gather at the bow. They are, from left, Wheelsman Jason Johnston, Capt. Chris Walker, Deck Hand Josh Burns and Engineer Gary Tucker. (Brian Gauvin photo)

The decision to install twin six-cylinder General Electric engines in each tug has proven to be a good one. For starters, a six-cylinder engine takes up less engine room space than an eight- or 12-cylinder one, and it burns less fuel. The engines, combined with Rolls-Royce 255 z-drives, produce a hefty 65-ton bollard pull.

"We're burning half the fuel we usually burn in our other tugs," said Chief Engineer Gary Tucker. "It's hard to believe, but the six cylinders did so well on the bollard pull that the company decided to stay with these sixes."

By Professional Mariner Staff