Several major providers of Jones Act petroleum transportation have taken delivery of new articulated tug-barge units to modernise fleets and enhance safety
Bouchard Transportation Co is expanding its tugboat fleet while celebrating its 100th anniversary. It was founded in 1918 in New York by Frederick Bouchard and in 100 years it has grown to become one of the largest privately-owned petroleum barge companies in the US.
A family-run company, Bouchard operates a fleet of 25 tugs as part of articulated tug-barge (ATB) units with double-hulled barges for transporting petroleum products throughout the US.
This year, Bouchard ordered new ATB tugs and barges from two US shipyards to expand the fleet. Its management plan to expand the operating fleet by 15% through newbuilding contracts.
There are three vessels under construction, including ATB tugs Evening Breeze and Evening Stroll at VT Halter Marine, in Pascagoula, Mississippi. A barge with storage capacity of 55,000 barrels is also being built by Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana.
All three are expected to be delivered in 2019 to bolster the fleet and improve operational efficiency. Both ATB newbuildings will be similar to existing ATBs Kim M. Bouchard and Donna J. Bouchard.
For Bouchard’s president and chief executive Morton Bouchard III, the history of the company and continued investment are important considerations for the corporate strategy.
“Over the past 100 years, the expansion of Bouchard’s fleet and dedication to serving our customers has been driven by the philosophy, vision and determination of our founding fathers, along with the efforts of five generations of the Bouchard family,” he told Tug Technology & Business. “As we celebrate our milestone anniversary, we are dedicated to continuing our rich heritage of barging expertise well into the future.”
Providing training and safety to its seafarers and reliability to cargo owners are vitally important to Bouchard’s operations. “Our safety and vetting procedures and the technological advancements consistently being made to our fleet enable more efficient operations,” said Mr Bouchard. “These limit risk by providing environmental protection, a safe work environment for our crew and a reliable service for our customers.”
Advances in technical equipment are designed to reduce emissions and improve operational efficiency. They include using the latest coupling technology on the newbuilding ATBs. Evening Breeze and Evening Stroll will be equipped with the newest modifications to the Intercon coupler and pin system and propulsion that complies with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Tier 4 emissions regulations.
These will both have an overall length of 34 m, breadth of 10.5 m and 5.2 m hull depth. They will be classed for ocean towage and will meet US Coast Guard’s Subchapter M and SOLAS requirements.
“We will continue to lead the market by investing our profits into innovative advancements in order to continue operating in the safest and most efficient manner”
“Our recent investments will further increase the fleet’s fuel-efficiency, capacity and speed, resulting in an overall operation that continues to perform well above industry standards,” said Mr Bouchard. “We will continue to lead the market by investing our profits into innovative advancements in order to continue operating in the safest and most efficient manner.”
Bouchard’s safety first philosophy is a core focus for the company, said chief operating officer Kevin Donohue. “The most crucial operational element is ensuring that everyone is safe and operating to company policies,” he said.
This covers all levels inside the company from the board down to the apprentices. “Everyone has to understand that they have the ability to stop work, they have the ability to say ‘this is unsafe’ and to understand they will be supported from Bouchard upper management,” said Mr Donohue.
He continued that experience and knowledge of the Bouchard’s crew, particularly of the tug captains, “helps ensure we are operating as safe as possible.” One of the captains explained how this safety message and training levels are adopted on Bouchard’s vessels.
“Safety is a priority and is good business,” said ATB tug Donna J. Bouchard captain Richie Bates. “Bouchard’s vessels are built beyond the safety standards to keep us safe and to keep the company safe,” he told TTB.
“Bouchard’s vessels are built beyond the safety standards to keep us safe and to keep the company safe”
Bouchard’s safety management system requires each vessel to be vetted and evaluated every six months. In addition, each vessel is assigned routine maintenance and repair schedules to guarantee the equipment is always operating at its optimal level.
But safety also needs training and practice from the crew on board. “My philosophy on my vessel is: always be training,” said Capt Bates. “We are training every day, so if a problem does arise, we are on top of it and we are always ready.”
On the commercial side, Bouchard has built up relationships with key petroleum cargo clients through its 100 years of operation. “The relationship that we have with our customers and their vetting teams is critical to success,” said Mr Donohue.
For Bouchard vice president of chartering Brendan Bouchard, loyalty and trust are essential for building the business. So is market intelligence. “We are always tracking and understanding the current market situation,” he said. “Times are changing, but one thing that does not change is loyalty.”
Key Bouchard Transportation timeline
1918 – founded in New York by Frederick Bouchard.
1931 – acquired first oil barge.
1955 – third generation of the Bouchard family joined.
1989 – fleet grows to more than 10 tugs.
1992 – fourth generation (Morton Bouchard III) took the helm.
2010 – fifth generation become actively involved in operations.
2016 – reached 25 ATB units.
2018 – ordered Evening Breeze and Evening Stroll.
Bouchard Transportation operates a fleet of 25 tugs with propulsion power ranging from 2,240 kW to 7,450 kW. It also operates 26 barges with capacity of 35,000-260,000 barrels. This fleet all operate in Jones Act trades in the US and is primarily split between the Gulf coast and east coast.
There was a significant addition to the fleet in 2016 when Donna J. Bouchard, Morton S Bouchard Jr, Kim Bouchard and Frederick E Bouchard were introduced. Six ATBs were delivered to the fleet in the last six years.
Another four ATB tugs are less than 20 years old and five are less than 30 years old. Evening Tide is the oldest operating ATB in the fleet as it was delivered in 1970. Another five were built in the 1970s and five in the 1980s.
Evening Stroll particulars:
Owner: Bouchard Transportation
Builder: VT Halter Marine
Delivery: Q4 2019
Operating area: New York
Length: 34 m
Breadth: 10.5 m
Hull depth: 5.2 m
Propulsion: twin screw
Power: 2,990 kW
EPA: Tier 4
Sister vessel: Evening Breeze
Vane Brothers is working with three US shipyards to increase its fleet of articulated tug-barge (ATB) units and pusher tugs. It has newbuildings on order at Conrad Shipyards in Texas and Louisiana, Maryland-based Chesapeake Shipbuilding and St. Johns Ship Building in Florida.
This fleet upgrade strategy was initiated to enhance the operational efficiency and safety of petroleum transportation operations in the US, said Vane Brothers president Duff Hughes. “We utilise the safest and most effective means to transport petroleum products wherever the need arises,” he said. “These newbuilds fill a variety of needs and help ensure that we have the most up-to-date fleet to continue delivering the highest-quality of service.”
Vane Brothers started an aggressive newbuild programme in 2001. Since that time, Vane port captain Jim Demske has supervised, outfitted, commissioned, and delivered 35 new tugs for the company. Capt Demske said the goal had been “to build a modern, standardised fleet of tugs and barges that capitalise on crew safety.”
Conrad Shipyards recently completed the second of three Assateague-class ATBs for Vane Brothers. Chincoteague left the yard in August to join up with double-skin barge DS-802 to complete the set.
The first of these tugs, Assateague and DS-801 were completed in March this year. A third ATB set, tug Wachapreague and DS-803 are scheduled to be completed in Q1 2019. DS-803 will carry additional heating elements specifically to aid asphalt transportation.
These are 3,300-kW tugs that drive 80,000-barrel capacity petroleum barges. Tugs are designed by Castleman Maritime and driven by Cummins QSK60M Tier 3 engines. They are linked to the barges, which were designed by Bristol Harbor Group, using a Beacon Finland JAK 700 coupling system.
Cummins engines are coupled to Reintjes WAF 873 gears with 7.087:1 reduction and turn 260-cm and 4-blade bronze propellers mounted on 24 cm shafts. Two Cummins QSB7-DM-powered 125-kW generators provide electrical power for each vessel with a Cummins powered 60-kW emergency generator.
St. Johns Ship Building has an order for tugs Jacksonville and Charleston from Vane Brothers. They are part of a series of eight Elizabeth Anne-class vessels that are paired with 50,000-barrel barges. They each have 3.130 kW of power and Beacon Finland JAK 400 coupling units. The first of this class of tug, Elizabeth Anne, entered service in Q1 2016.
Chesapeake Shipbuilding Corp is constructing four pusher tugs which will be Subchapter M compliant. They will have 2,240 kW of power and are designed for operating in shallow waters and protected harbours.
Owner: Vane Brothers
Builder: Conrad Industries
Designer: Castleman Marine
Delivery: Q1 2018
Length: 33.5 m
Engines: 2 x Cummins QSK60M
EPA: Tier 3
Power: 3,300 kW
Coupling: Beacon-Finland JAK 700
Sister vessels: Chincoteague, Wachapreague
Other owners of articulated tug-barge (ATB) units and tugs providing coastal towage have expanded their fleets with newbuildings. Foss Maritime and its affiliates has tugs on order even though the group decided to close its own shipyard in Rainier in August.
Foss was considering building 10 azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs to a Damen design at the shipyard on the Columbia River, but closed the yard instead. A spokeswoman for Foss said the company “remained committed to building four new ASD 90 tugs for fleet replenishment” and would release details on this newbuild programme soon.
In the meantime, Foss’ Hawaiian subsidiary Young Brothers is in the middle of a four-tug newbuilding programme. Conrad Shipyards is building these Kāpena-class oceangoing tugs for inter-island transportation in the Pacific. The first of these tugs, Kāpena Jack Young was delivered in September. The other three are expected to enter service over the next two years.
Kāpena-class will be built to ABS class and Damen USA design to meet EPA Tier 4 requirements. They will have an overall length of 37.5 m, beam of 11 m beam and 4,475 kW of power. Kāpena-class tugs will have General Electric 8L250 MDC engines with exhaust gas recirculation.
Kāpena Jack Young particulars:
Owner: Young Brothers
Builder: Conrad Industries
Designer: Damen USA
Delivery: Q3 2018
Operating area: Hawaii
Length: 37.5 m
Engines: 2 x General Electric 8L250 MDC
EPA: Tier 4
Power: 4,475 kW
Kirby Corp has taken delivery of ATB tugs from Alabama-based Master Boat Builders. The latest to enter service, Cape Lookout, was designed by Guarino & Cox and classed to ABS to meet Subchapter M standards.
It is powered by a pair of Tier 4 Caterpillar 3516E diesel engines. These drive 5-bladed Hung Shen propellers through Reintjes WAF 1173 marine gears with 7.429:1 reduction ratios.
Cape Lookout has a maximum speed of 13 knots and a bollard pull of 48 tonnes. It is attached to a barge using a Beacon Finland coupling system. Cape Lookout is a sister vessel to Cape Ann, which was delivered in July.
Marquette Transportation Co has extended its fleet of towboats with a series of four Z-drive tugs built by C&C Marine and Repair. It took delivery of the third in this series, Jerry Jarrett, in September, four months after the second, Chris Reeves, entered service. The first of these tugs Cindy L. Erickson, left the shipyard in February.
All of these tugs are triple-screw Z-drive tugs with 4,920 kW of power. They were designed by CT Marine with breadth of 15 m. For each tug, Cummins is supplying three QSK60-M main engines paired to three Steerprop SP25D azimuthing Z-drive thrusters.
Waterfront Services completed a newbuilding campaign in July this year after four tugboats were built by Master Marine. Miss Deborah was delivered to the owner in October 2017 and Tom Toretti joined Waterfront Services’ fleet in January 2018. Sam P. Hise entered service in April and Rick Pemberton was delivered in July.
Middle River Marine added a towboat with Z-drives for inland waterway operations this year. Kamryn Olivia has two Cummins QSK-38 diesel engines, Z-drives from ZF Marine and a retractable pilothouse.
|Bollinger Shipyards||1||Crowley Maritime||ATB||2019|
|Cenac Marine Services||4||Kirby Inland Marine||Harbour||2018|
|Chesapeake Shipbuilding||4||Vane Brothers||Harbour||2019|
|Dakota Creek Industries||4||US Navy||Harbour||2020|
|Eastern Shipbuilding||2||Bisso Offhore||Tractor||2019|
|Gulf Island Fabricators||1||US Navy||Salvage||2020|
|Gulf Island Shipyards||2||St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.||Harbour||2019|
|Main Iron Works||1||Bisso Offhore||Tractor||2019|
|Nichols Brothers||1||Baydelta Maritime||Harbour||2019|
|Senesco Marine||2||Reinauer Transport||ATB||2018|
|Washburn & Doughty||2||Harbor Docking & Towing||Harbour||2019|
|Source: BRL Shipping Consultants|