Teddy Meyer

LeBeouf Bros. Towing sits on the bank of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, in Bourg, to the east of Houma, La. In recent years the company has developed an in-house barge-building program to supply its modern tank barge fleet at its Bourg Dry Dock facility. LeBeouf is also building two pushboats at the shipyard, which sits adjacent to its offices and fleet moorage.

Teddy Meyer (Brian Gauvin photo)

The 297-by-54-foot double-skinned barges are the 18th and 19th barges built by the company since the start of a barge-building program in 2008. These barges represent approximately 30 percent of the total barge fleet of 65.
Although the LeBeouf shipyard has carried out repairs and refits on boats for many years, Teddy Meyer, a 95-by-35-foot pushboat is the first boat built at the shipyard since the late 1970s. Teddy Meyer is the 29th boat in the company's fleet.
Earlier this year the company took delivery of two 2,000-hp towboats, the 72-by-30-foot Bea Sonier from Intracoastal Iron Works in Bourg, and the 87-by-32-foot Capt. Pic Naquin from Sneed Shipbuilding in Texas. Both of the new boats are powered with Cummins KTA-38M engines and Reintjes marine gears.
Naming the boats is a personal affair at LeBeouf. "Bea is my late grandmother, and Capt. Pic is our personnel director here at LeBeouf," said Jon Gonsoulin, president of the company. "Capt. Pic's career with LeBeouf has spanned 54 years." Capt. Pic worked his way up with LeBoeuf from a deck hand on the boats, to captain for several years, to human resource manager.
"Teddy Meyer is a gentleman that my father, (Dickie) Gonsoulin, served with in the U.S. Army in Vietnam in the early 1960s. My father visited Teddy once in the 1970s and then lost track of him."
In 2009 the two army buddies were reunited when his father found Meyer on a genealogical website posting. Meyer was paralyzed from his nose down as a result of a stroke and confined in a hospital bed in Honolulu. "The reunion between Teddy and Dickie was bittersweet," said Gonsoulin. "Teddy was able to communicate only with his 'eye language.'"

Jon Gonsoulin, president of LeBeouf Bros. Towing, points out the best parts of his company's newest towboat. (Photo by Brian Gauvin)

Teddy Meyer will be powered by two Mitsubishi S12R diesels generating 3,030 hp through Reintjes 6:1 reduction gears. The boat has enough horsepower to push three 30,000-bbl barges. "We opted to go to larger vessels to increase the handling capability of the tows and for crew comfort," said Gonsoulin. The boat will work the full range of the company barge fleet, transporting petroleum products along the Intracoastal Waterway and Inland River System, typically pushing two barges, three when necessary.
Frank Basile of Entech & Associates, in Houma, has designed most of the pushboats in the LeBeouf fleet, including Teddy Meyer. At 86-years-old you might expect him to rest on the laurels of his past success, especially those garnered by his signature 72-by-30 foot towboat design. Basile speculates that at least 70 of his 72-footers are still in service, 12 in the LeBeouf fleet alone.
"The 72s multiply like rabbits and I can hardly keep up with them," said Basile. "They have a very definite place in the industry, particularly along the Intracoastal. But in time I hope the 95s will step up and surpass the 72s because they can handle twice the tow with maybe 33 percent more fuel."
Entech employed computer simulation to develop arched tunnels with open propellers for the 95s. The arched tunnel, as opposed to an inverted V-shaped tunnel that was developed in the late 1950s, allows for smoother water flow over the propellers, minimizing turbulence and the vibration caused by cavitation.
Another aspect of the boat is the addition of a 1-inch-thick by 24-inch sheer strake surrounding the main deck instead of the usual rubbing strake of flat iron. "It adds some strength to the boat because it's an integral part of the hull," said Basile. "But mostly it protects the boat from being all dented up over time from banging against barges and what not. And it's a natural landing place for the fendering."
Teddy Meyer will be followed by the 95-foot Karl Senner, named after the legendary founder of marine supply distributor Karl Senner Inc., in Kenner, La. In 1967, LeBeouf purchased the first Reintjes gearbox sold in the United States from Senner, and had it installed in Mary R. "After the vessel was decommissioned in the early 1980s, we removed the gear and gave it back to Karl Senner," said Gonsoulin. "It was then polished and painted and inspection ports cut out to expose the inside components of the gearbox. Then it was put on display for many years at the Reintjes exhibit at the WorkBoat Show in New Orleans. It's now on display at the Reintjes factory in Germany."

 A pair of new oil barges built by LeBeouf Towing at the company's shipyard reflect an investment strategy focused as much on workhorse barges as on new tow boats.  (Photo by Brian Gauvin)

On a tour of the LeBeouf yard, Mark Bourgeois, executive vice president of the company said that business has really come back this year. "The economy is really showing signs of strengthening. Boats are in short supply. Barges are in short supply."
To meet the current market demands, LeBeouf has signed contracts for three more boats to be built at other yards. Two 87-foot pushboats with Mitsubishi engines are being constructed at Sneed Shipbuilding. And a 72-foot boat powered by Mitsubishi is under construction at Intracoastal Iron Works. It will be named Donnie Sonier after Gonsoulin's late uncle and Godfather.
LeBeouf has upgraded its own Bourg Dry Dock facility considerably since launching the program to build its barges in-house. The yard has a range of repair capabilities that include a 1,500-ton dry dock and a 4,000-ton dry dock, a 400-by-200 foot graving dock, full-service machine shop, gas-free plant, water treatment plant and the latest cutting and welding machines. As well as building and repairing its own fleet of boats and barges, Bourg Dry Dock provides repair services for other marine companies.
LeBeouf Bros. Towing, dating back to the 1940s, claims to be one of the oldest companies operating on the country's inland waterway system. The company was formed by brothers Willard and Irvin LeBeouf. Earl Gonsoulin joined the company sometime around 1946 and became an equal partner with the LeBeoufs. Through the years, the Gonsoulin family, who retained the LeBeouf name, bought out the LeBeouf family. Today, LeBeouf Bros. Towing is owned and operated by father and son, Richard and Jon Gonsoulin, respectively.
By Professional Mariner Staff