Corps towboat meets barge in Mobile

Last week, two Gulf Coast shipyards simultaneously wrapped up construction of new equipment for the Corps of Engineers Rock Island District in Rock Island, Ill. One of the new vessels, a towboat, was used to deliver the other vessel, a striker barge.

(The vessels were actually being delivered to the Corps facilities in nearby Pleasant Valley, Iowa.)

Patti Marine Enterprises, Pensacola, Fla., recently finished the 65’x24’x8’6″ 1,200-hp towboat Rock Island II and was preparing to move the boat on to Iowa by itself.

Meanwhile, Conrad Industries, Morgan City, La., was ahead of schedule on a 150’x50’x8′ striker barge for the Corps and was contemplating its best option for getting the barge to Iowa.

During a production meeting at Patti, a Corps official mentioned that Conrad was finishing the new barge. All parties got together and decided the best way to go was to have the new towboat push the new barge to their mutual destination.

“The Corps put us in contact with each other, and the move took place last week,” said Ashley Stone, Patti’s project manager. “We were looking for something to push, since the vessel runs more efficiently with a barge on the front. Once we found out that Conrad was ahead of schedule and would pretty well match our delivery time, it was a relatively easy solution.”

Conrad delivered the barge to Mobile, Ala. From there, Capt. Mel Longo of Bayfront Marine Inc. in St. Augustine, Fla., was hired to pick up the towboat from Patti, bring it around to Mobile, lash the vessel to the barge, and push ahead north.

The operation went so well that Corps and the two shipyards expect to do it again later this year. “We are planning on repeating the performance in late October with the sister-vessel Clinton,” said Stone. “Conrad should have their remaining Corps striker barges near completion then.”


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