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Three WorkBoat Questions for Wes Bordelon, Lisa Plunkett and Jason Bozic

By Ken Hocke

Senior Editor Ken Hocke recently talked with Wes Bordelon, Lisa Plunkett, and Jason Bozi at the christening of the Stingray 260-class DP-2 ultralight intervention vessel Shelia Bordelon.

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Grounded bulk carrier freed in St. Mary’s River

By Kirk Moore

The ice may be gone, but Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie was busy with new problems when a bulk carrier loaded with stone from a Canadian quarry ran hard aground in Michigan’s St. Mary’s River on Wednesday.

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Gibbs & Cox names Keith Harper VP of its design group

By WorkBoat Staff

Gibbs & Cox Inc., a leading independent naval architecture and marine engineering firm, has announced the appointment of Keith Harper as Vice President and Group Manager of the Gibbs & Cox Design Group.

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It’s cycle time again

By David Krapf, Editor in Chief

It’s cycle time again

A year ago, our Houston-based energy correspondent Bill Pike was sounding a word of caution in our annual offshore energy report.

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Down Time

By Bill Pike, Correspondent

Down Time


The U.S. Gulf offshore market continues to struggle.

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Great Lakes Towing announces two new hires

By WorkBoat Staff

The Great Lakes Towing Company & Great Lakes Shipyard announced this week that it has made two new hires. 

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Strong and Stable

By Bruce Buls

Strong and Stable

Harley’s newest harbor tug has more power and bollard pull. 

Back in 1987, when Harley Franco first ventured into the marine transportation business, he had one leased tug and one leased barge in Puget Sound.

Today, Franco has a gorgeous new LEED-certified “world headquarters” in Seattle and branches on all three coasts as Harley Marine Services  continues to break into markets dominated by older, larger and more established maritime companies. With a concentration on bunkering and petroleum transportation, ocean towing and tanker-escort/ship-assist, HMS owns and operates an expanding fleet of tugs and barges. 

In the last few years, HMS has added several new ASD tugs (Robert Franco, Bob Franco, Ahbra Franco) to its fleet and this year took delivery of its first ATB tanker — the 83,800-bbl. Dr. Robert J. Beall pushed by the 116', 4,000-hp Emery Zidell.

The newest star of the fleet, the Michelle Sloan, is a powerful harbor tug named after a close family friend who recently died from breast cancer. 

Measuring 80'×36', the tug was designed by Robert Allan Ltd. in British Columbia and is a modified version of two tugs designed for HMS by RAL about 10 years ago and built by Diversified Marine Industries in Portland, Ore. They are the 76'×32', 3,800-hp Tim Quigg and John Quigg.

Called an “enhanced” Ramparts 2500 design, the Michelle Sloan packs 40% more horsepower and 25% more bollard pull than the Quigg tugs. Diversified Marine built the new tug and its sister, the Lela Franco, is still under construction. 

At the Michelle Sloan’s dedication in late March, Franco characterized the new tug as “the most state-of-the-art, best performing, high-performance vessel on the planet,” and like its namesake, “she will be bringing beauty, power, style and grace to the port of Los Angeles.”

The new harbor tugs are powered by pairs of Caterpillar 3516Cs, each rated at 2,575 hp for a total of 5,150 hp. Bollard pull ahead is estimated at 68 tons and astern at 65 tons. 

“The Quigg tugs as they became known, derived from what we call our Ramparts-class tugs,” said RAL President Ken Harford. “They’re able to operate with a winch at the bow or at the stern. It’s been a decade since the first Quiggs were commissioned, and the demand for powerful tugs to work in small harbors with bigger ships has increased but the working space for the tug hasn’t.”

Harford also said that adding all that additional power required making the tug more stable by increasing the beam from 32' to 36'. “The increased beam, much to the chagrin of the shipyard, also allowed for increased accommodations spaces,” Harford said. “And these more spacious features are sure to be appreciated by the crew.” 

Another change to the enhanced version of the RAL design is the modified skeg. While the Tim Quigg and John Quigg have larger, escort-style skegs for seldom-used indirect towing, the Michelle Sloan has a smaller skeg that reduces the drag when moving sideways, said Josiah “Si” Layfield, the captain of the Michelle Sloan

“This is a great handling ship-assist tug,” said Layfield. “The smaller skeg slides sideways much more easily.”

Jim Hyslop, project manager at RAL, said the skeg on the Sloan is not much different from those on the Quigg boats. The biggest difference, he said, is the added power and higher bollard pull. He said the structure was also beefed up.

Because the new tug will be doing a lot of ship-assist and towing on the hip, it has hawser winches on both the bow and the stern. Both are electric, and both are from Markey Machinery in Seattle. The bow winch is a DE PCF-48 with 600' of 8" Spectra line (400,000-lb. breaking strength), and the stern winch is a DEPC-32 with 250' of 6" Spectra line (200,000-lb. breaking strength).


An energy-saving innovation incorporated into the new tug is the ductless heating and cooling system. It includes a pair of Daikin heat pumps mounted between the exhaust stacks on the aft side of the pilothouse. 

Using a refrigerant vapor cycle, ductless systems collect heat from outside and deliver it inside on the heating cycle. In the cooling mode, the system collects heat from inside and moves it outside. The Daikin system uses variable speed compressors with inverter technology (AC to DC) to continuously match the heating or cooling load for increased efficiency, especially compared to conventional electric resistance heating.

The heat pumps on the Michelle Sloan are modified units for onboard use. “Normally we have to put special coatings on the condenser/evaporator coils to prevent pinholes and corrosion,” said John Walls, director of mechanical systems technology for Harley. “And we often put vibration isolators under them, too,” noting that this system has been used on several other HMS tugs. He also said that the system on the Michelle Sloan includes a backup electric-resistance heater if the outside temperature is too cold.

But in Southern California, where the new tug will be working, the biggest concern is having enough cooling inside. 

“A lot of tugs up here [in Seattle] get built for Alaska, so they’ve got heaters everywhere,” said Layfield. “Down in L.A., we need cooling and sometimes all we have are little fans. This boat has great cooling.”

Building the new tugs is somewhat similar to the construction of the Quigg boats, but also different, said Kurt Redd, CEO at Diversified Marine. “We knew the new tugs would be slightly longer and wider, but we didn’t know that the whole house would also be bigger and wider. They told us that there would be only 10 changes. It was probably more like 50, but the end result is something that we can all be proud of.”

Harley Franco is certainly proud of the new tug and seized the opportunity to name the first of its class after a close family friend and its sistership after his wife, Lela. 

“The Michelle Sloan is a stiff, strong, compact, stable and green tug,” said RAL’s Harford. “I’m sure these excellent qualities will serve the owners and the crew well and make Michelle proud.”



Michelle Sloan Specifications

 Builder: Diversified Marine Industries


Designer: Robert Allan Ltd.


Owner: Harley Marine Services


Mission: Ship assist, tanker escort, barge towing


Length: 80' 


Beam: 36'


Depth (molded): 16'8"     Draft: 14'6"


Main Propulsion: (2) Caterpillar 3516C (B rated), Tier 3, 2,575 hp @ 1,600 rpm


Bollard Pull (estimated): Ahead, 68 tons; astern, 65 tons


Z-Drives: (2) Rolls-Royce US 205 FP


Propellers: (2) 4-bladed, nibral, skewed, 2,400 mm (94")


Ship’s Service Power: (2) Marathon/John Deere, 125 kW


Speed (knots): 14 (top)


Accommodations: 6 in 3 staterooms


Capacities: Fuel, 30,000 gals.; fresh water, 2,800 gals.; lube oil, 370 gals.


Winch: Markey bow winch, DEPC-48, with 600' of 8" Spectra (400,000-lb. breaking strength); Markey stern winch, DEPC-32, with 250' of 6" Spectra (200,000-lb. breaking strength)


Fendering: Shibata cylindrical rubber, 36'; Schuyler looped rubber; tires


Delivery Date: March 2015



2015 May StongStable galley heatpump unit2015 May StongStable Lela Franco hull2015 May StongStable Michelle Sloan stern underway2015 May StongStable Michelle Sloan port side2015 May StongStable MS engines2015 May StongStable Si in pilothouse 



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Bump & Run

By Michael Crowley, Correspondent

Bump & Run

Whether rubber, air or wood, fendering is essential.

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Water Women

By Pamela Glass

Water Women

Government and others feel that women are critical 

to the future of the maritime industry.

As tug and barge operators and others in the maritime industry struggle to fill vacancies and worry about the future as older mariners retire, they should look to an underused source — women.

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By David Krapf, Editor in Chief

In late March, Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Panama City, Fla., signed a contract with Weeks Marine Inc., Cranford, N.J., to complete construction of the Magdalen, a 356' trailing suction hopper dredger. Initially, the vessel was to be built by BAE Systems Southeast Shipyard, Mobile, Ala., where the keel was laid in 2012. The new schedule calls for delivery in 2017. Dredge Technology Corporation (DTC), a member of the IHC Merwede International Group, is providing the design and detailed engineering. 

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