Texas archbishop blesses newest Buffalo Marine towboat

Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo blesses San Kennedy, a new Buffalo Marine towboat.

The new 62-foot long, 1,320-hp towboat San Kennedy was blessed by the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Daniel N. DiNardo, on Feb. 1 at Buffalo Marine Services headquarters on the Houston Ship Channel. With the blessing of San Kennedy, Buffalo Marine Services now has 13 towboats along with 28 tank barges in its fleet. J.L. Bludworth Shipyards of Corpus Christi, Texas, built the new towboat, and Buffalo Marine took delivery Jan. 28. In order to make the Feb. 1 blessing, painting was done around the clock, according to Tom Marion, general counsel for Buffalo Marine.

San Kennedy is powered by two Cummins QSK19-M T2 diesel engines, each rated 660 hp at 1,800 rpm. The engines feature Cummins’ electronic Quantum System, a complete automated package that has the ability to monitor up to 25 parameters in engine performance, such as the temperature and pressure in each cylinder, said Marion. The engines meet EPA Tier 2 emissions requirements, according to Marion.

This engine package was first introduced at Buffalo Marine two years ago. “The guys are telling us she handled like she has 1,400 hp or more — it has better response and better fuel consumption,” Marion said about San Kennedy.

The new towboat also has an extra foot on each deck. “It helps as far as space is concerned — it’s not as cramped,” said Marion. In addition, insulation was increased so that crew quarters would be quieter and it would be easier to sleep.

Since 1946, nearly every newbuilt Buffalo Marine vessel has been blessed by Father Rivers Patout, of St. Alphonsus Parish, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Father Patout is co-founder and the oldest serving chaplain of the Houston International Seafarers Center.

It’s the first blessing that Cardinal DiNardo has done. The company had hoped that the cardinal could bless four new 30,000-barrel tank barges at the Feb. 1 ceremony, but the barges were working that day, said Marion. Two of the new barges, Buffalo 407 and 408, are equipped with booms and are used in the company’s bunker business. The other two, Buffalo 802 and 803, are line haul barges. All four barges are double-skinned and are 297 feet long by 54 feet wide, said Marion.

The cardinal blessed small statues of Saint Brendan the Voyager, the patron saint of mariners, which were taken on board San Kennedy. Every Buffalo Marine boat has a small pewter statue of St. Brendan in the wheelhouse, said Marion.

“My father named his first towboat after Saint Bernard and he firmly believed that his faith would play a significant role in the success of Buffalo Marine,” said Pat Studdert, president of Buffalo Marine. The company is a strong supporter of the International Seafarer’s Center.

St. Brendan icons are carried on all Buffalo Marine boats.

Crowley contract for shallow-draft tugs in western Alaska

Crowley Maritime Corp. will build two more shallow-draft Avik-class tugs for its lighterage fleet in western Alaska. Crowley announced on Feb. 1 that it awarded the contract to Diversified Marine in Portland, Ore., for these new tugs. The first Avik tug was built by Dakota Creek Shipyard and went into service in the summer of 2004. The Avik tugs are 76 feet long, 32 feet wide and have a light draft of 3 feet, 6 inches with 5,000 gallons of fuel on board.

The shallow draft tugs are an essential part of Crowley’s Alaska Fuel Sales and Distribution unit. Crowley ships bulk fuel to Alaska using line haul barges. But many communities have no dock facilities or are along shallow water. So the fuel is transferred to smaller barges with tugs that can go right on shore. “Much of what we do with Aviks — we push them right up onto the beach,” said Craig Tornga, vice president of Alaska Fuel Sales. The new tug can also tow offshore in a little bit of weather. The shallow-draft tugs only operate from June to October and are frozen in the rest of the year.

The purpose-built Avik tugs fill a real need. “In our distribution system, everything is interrelated, we’re only as effective as that weakest link of the system,” said Tornga. The current Avik “has proven to be a good, versatile boat for us.”

Peter S. Hatfield Ltd. did the design of the first tug. To meet the light operating draft, many weight-saving measures were taken. Aluminum, instead of steel, was used to construct the deckhouse. More weight was saved with the use of a light frame towing winch, a Markey Machine TES-22, single-drum winch. “We worked hard to make sure that it didn’t sit too deep, but at the same time still delivered a good tow,” Tornga said.

Three identical tunnels are part of the stern construction to shroud the three propellers which helps enable the tug to work in shallow waters. The new Avik tugs will be powered by three Caterpillar C18 diesel engines generating a total horsepower of 1,362.

Each tug will include environmentally friendly features such as onboard sewage holding tanks, electric, rather than hydraulic, deck machinery and fuel tanks surrounded by void spaces to reduce the likelihood of spills.

The new tugs feature a raised bridge for better visibility. The Avik class has a stern tow winch and fendered push knees on the bow so the tug can either tow or operate in the push mode.

The two new tugs, scheduled for delivery in early 2009, will replace Kantishna and Twilite.

The pilothouse of San Kennedy. The towboat is equipped with two Cummins QSK19-M T2 diesel engines putting out 660 hp each at 1,800 rpm.

Seabulk Towing christens two z-drive tugs

Seabulk Towing Inc. christened sister tugs Buccaneer and Gasparilla at the company’s Tampa, Fla., location Jan. 24. The tugs are 98 feet long and 34 feet wide.

Each z-drive tug is powered by two Caterpillar 3516-B marine diesel engines, for a total horsepower per tug of 5,150 hp. Each engine drives a Schottel SRP 1215 z-drive. The bollard pull is 71.25 tons astern. The forward winch is a JonRie InterTech double brake escort with 450 feet of 7-inch Amsteel Blue synthetic rope. The aft winch is a JonRie hawser winch, also with 450 feet of Amsteel Blue rope.

“They are excellent harbor tugs used to assist everything from tug and barge units to Aframax vessels,” said Bartley Wilkins, of Seabulk Towing in Tampa.

The two tugs have full FiFi-1 firefighting capacity. The two z-drive tugs serve the ports of Tampa and Manatee. They were built in 2007 by the Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Fla. These two were part of a series built for Seabulk by Eastern Shipbuilding, according to Wilkins. The first two, Energy Hercules and Energy Zeus, were built to support the British Gas LNG terminal in Lake Charles, La. The fifth tug, Sabine, supports heavy tanker traffic and future LNG projects out of its homeport of Port Arthur, said Wilkins.

Lease deal signed by Foss Maritime and Signet Maritime

Foss Maritime Company and Signet Maritime Corporation announced Jan. 28 that the two companies agreed to form an alliance and lease vessels from each other.

Foss agreed to lease from Signet two advanced z-drive 30-meter, 80-metric-ton (AZ 30/80) tugs from Signet. The first vessel joined Foss in February and the second will be delivered in May. One tug will be assigned to the North Puget Sound and one to another Foss port on the West Coast.

Both tugs have 6,610 hp and are designed to have a minimum of 80 metric tons of bollard pull. The tugs include FiFi-1 firefighting equipment, Markey hawser winches and a Schuyler fendering system. The two tugs were the first AZ 30/80s, launched in October 2007 at J.M. Martinac Shipbuilders in Tacoma, Wash. This new class of ship-handling/escort tug was developed by Signet and designed by Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia.

In return, Signet will lease from Foss a conventional twin-screw tugboat for contract towing work and a new, Dolphin-class z-drive harbor tug. The agreement allows Foss and Signet to exchange or lease other vessels to each other in the future. “Partnering with Foss, a company that builds its own vessels, is an ideal situation for Signet,” J.

Barry Snyder, Signet president and chief executive, said in a press release. “This way, as opportunities arise we can respond quickly with new-construction vessels. The ability to remain nimble by leasing out vessels that are in very high demand, and gaining vessels that are the right fit for the global needs of our customers, works out for everyone.”

The triple-screw tug Avik, with a draft of 3.5 feet, went into service in the summer of 2004 for Crowley Maritime Corp. The company has commissioned two more of the Avik-class tugs for its Alaska Fuel Sales and Distribution unit.

Bisso Marine launches four tugs on a single day

Bisso Marine helped launch four identical tractor-tugs in a single day. Bisso sent its 700-ton-capacity D/B Cappy Bisso to Gulf Ship LLC, Edison Chouest Offshore’s shipyard in Gulfport, Miss., to take part in the launching of the first four hulls produced at this shipyard.

The launching took place in November 2007. In a single day, the four vessels, each weighing 650 tons, were rigged, lifted and placed in the water. The four 77-metric ton bollard pull tractor tugs will be used at Cheniere Energy’s LNG receiving terminal in western Cameron Parish, La. The tugs will provide escort and berthing services, according to the Edison Chouest newsletter.

Van Isle articulated tug-barge enters Vancouver service

Van Isle Barge Services Ltd. of Surrey, British Columbia, put its Van Isle Link and Sea-Link Pusher articulated barge combination into service in February after completing sea trials off the coast of Vancouver. Sea-Link Pusher/Van Isle Link ATB is 504 feet long and 76 feet wide. It can carry up to 44 trailers. Sea-Link Pusher/Van Isle Link ATB provides cargo services between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Van Isle Link is powered by a General Electric 8-cylinder V228 diesel engine, rated at 1,750 hp at 900 rpm. Sea-Link Pusher has a GE 12-cylinder V228 diesel, rated at 2,500 hp at 1,050 rpm. Both engines were built at GE’s Grove City, Pa., manufacturing facility.

By using commercial drop-trailer barges, Van Isle Barge’s ATB fleet acts as ro-ro vessels, carrying semi-trucks, vehicles and off-road industry equipment. The ATBs save about 50 percent over ferries where drivers have to stay with vehicles by eliminating the cost of drivers having to wait during the loading/sailing process.

“GE engines meet stringent Environmental Protection Agency Tier 2 emission standards, are fuel-efficient and inherently designed for reliable operation,” Doug Jesson, Van Isle Barge’s business development manager, said in a press release from GE.

By Professional Mariner Staff