North American tugboat owners are taking delivery of new tugs and ordering more despite the continent’s inland towage market being in a serious downturn. Two factors have contributed to this trend. First, US Coast Guard’s (USCG’s) new Subchapter M regulations of Title 46 of the US Code of Federal Regulations came into force on 20 July, setting new standards on the inspection, auditing, and safety policies of towing vessels. Second, a need for more powerful tugs to replace older units, has driven US operators to build modern tugs.
Kirby Corp took delivery of a second articulated tug barge (ATB) from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in July. This is despite the tugboat owner’s president and chief executive David Grzebinski explaining that the current downturn is one of the most severe and long-lasting that the market has seen in the past 30 years.
Fincantieri built Paul McLernan tug and a 155,000-barrel barge 155-02 to carry petroleum and chemical cargoes for Kirby as the second half of a two-ATB deal, the first of which was delivered last year. Each tug has 4,475kW of installed power and is ABS-classed.
Rival tug operator Great Lakes Towing took delivery of the first tug to operate under the Subchapter M regulations in June. Cleveland was launched from Great Lakes shipyard on 25 May and delivered to the towing company on 30 June. Cleveland’s first job was to assist dry bulk carrier Federal Saguenay in the port city of Cleveland on Lake Erie.
IWL River has expanded its fleet with a series of CT Marine-designed tugs. These were delivered this year by Eastern Shipbuilding Group to ABS classification at its Allanton shipyard. Impala Soledad, Impala Salgar, Impala Mompox and Impala Cantagallo are triple-screw inland towboats with retractable pilothouses to sail under low bridges.
Bay-Houston Towing and Suderman & Young Towing ordered Robert Allan-designed Z-Tech tugs from Gulf Island Shipyards in May. Up to four tugs will be built to a Z-Tech 30-80 design, meeting ABS class and Subchapter M requirements. They will have Caterpillar 3516E (EPA Tier4) engines and Schottel SRP 510 Z-drives. The shipbuilder expects the tugs will generate a bollard pull of 80 tonnes and have a contracted speed of 13 knots.
In June, Harley Marine Services took delivery of the first tug in North America to feature a complete Caterpillar Marine propulsion system. Dr Hank Kaplan is a Robert Allan RAmparts 2400 design tractor tug with Cat power and Cat azimuth drives. It was built at Diversified Marine shipyard in Portland, Oregon. It is equipped with two 3516C marine propulsion engines and a pair of MTA 524-T azimuth thrusters.