Tampa tug designed with wider beam to improve stability


An azimuthing stern drive tug with 75 tons of bollard pull seems like a lot of muscle to assist in docking a tank barge, but the adage “no job is too small” often rules the day.

Marine Towing of Tampa’s newest 5,000-hp tug, Patriot, was between ship moves, both of them big ones, when the call came in to assist the 100-foot Vane Brothers’ tug Wye River, made up to the 362-foot, 50,000-barrel tank barge Double Skin 52. The barge was loaded with a blend of gasoline and ethanol. 

Off they went. Capt. Josh Brantner, the third generation of Brantners still working at MTT, maneuvered Patriot to the port bow of the barge. The deck hand, Cameron Johnson, put a line up and the tug ran with the tow for about a quarter-mile to Berth 222 in the Port of Tampa. With the tow parallel to the pier, Brantner turned Patriot perpendicular to the barge and pushed it to the dock, and held the tow in until it was made fast. Done.

The 93-foot Patriot was developed on the Washburn & Doughty design of the 92-foot Independent. But with a girth of 38 feet, Patriot is six feet wider. Independent was part of a newbuild program that also saw Freedom and Liberty emerge from the Washburn & Doughty yard at East Boothbay, Maine. The tug was sold to McAllister last year to make room for Patriot, moved to Charleston, S.C., and renamed Moira McAllister

The fourth tug in the MTT fleet, Endeavor, is a ship-docking module. “That’s the number of tugs we want to stay at,” said Jim Brantner Jr., MTT’s port captain and son of  company Vice President James C. Brantner.

Patriot’s chief engineer, Andrew Huggins, above, attends to one of the tug’s two Caterpillar 3516C main engines.

“Over time we’ll replace the 32s with the 38s,” said James C. Brantner. “We’ll probably build another one in a couple of years.”

The extra six feet of beam adds stability and more draft by default that, in concert with a box keel, boosts the tug’s escort abilities. The extra elbowroom is welcomed by the crew and the engine room is an engineer’s delight.

“There is all new machinery aboard and the engine room is clean, clear and streamlined,” said the chief engineer, Andrew Huggins. “It is well laid-out for an engineer to keep his tools and get at the machinery in order to do his job.”

The propulsion train on Patriot consists of two Caterpillar 2,575-hp, Tier 3, 3516C mains with Rolls-Royce 205 US z-drives and 95-inch four-blade stainless-steel propellers. The FiFi-1 firefighting system consists of a 1,300-hp Caterpillar C32 engine situated ahead of the mains, with an FFS SFP fire pump feeding water to two FFS 1200 monitors. Two 99-kW John Deere generators supply auxiliary power.

On the bow is a JonRie double-drum hydraulic escort winch, with 400 feet of 9-inch Spectra soft line on each drum. A JonRie 512 hydraulic towing winch with 2,000 feet of 2-inch wire is on the stern. 

“The boat is clean-burning and she’s FiFi-1-classed,” said Josh Brantner. “She is very comfortable and spacious and has lots of power.” 


A Rolls-Royce 205 US azimuthing stern drive.


On the upper deck, one of the vessel’s two FFS 1,200-gpm fire monitors, driven by a FFS SFP fire pump and a Caterpillar C32 engine.


Capt. Josh Brantner maneuvers the tug while helping to dock a barge.


Patriot deck hand Cameron Johnson puts a line up to the barge.


By Professional Mariner Staff