In recent years, new inland towboat orders have primarily come from just a handful of operators, including Blessey Marine, Eckstein Marine and Maryland Marine. Now, add Golding Barge Line Inc. to the list.
In January, the Vicksburg, Miss.-based inland operator placed the 3,000-hp Angie Golding into service — its first owned and operated towboat. Built by Newsouth Marine Builders LLC, Greenville, Miss., the 110’×32’×10’3” boat features a retractable pilothouse and a tunneled hull that increases fuel efficiency up to 30 percent, according to Steve Golding, president of Golding Barge. The cost of the boat was approximately $3 million.
Golding, who sold his Ole Man River Towing Company to Kirby Corp. in 1992, started Golding Barge Line in 2001 with a pair of tank barges. The company now has 33 double-skin tank barges, including three that were delivered in the first quarter. Thirteen of the barges are 30,000-bbl. bottoms, all built at Jeffboat from 2001-2004, and 20 are 10,000- and 12,000-bbl. The average age of the barge fleet is only four years old.
“We are now in the process of putting our own boats out there,” said Golding. “I am going with all new boats to go with all new barges. It’s building for the future.” The company has been operating four chartered towboats.
Golding’s plans include a pair of 2,600-hp towboats currently under construction at Quality Shipyards LLC in Houma, La. After the two from Quality are delivered, Golding said he hopes to build one or two 2,000-hp boats. “We will need more than the three. We will need to add more horsepower.”
Before deciding to build new vessels, Golding first checked the used market. “We looked all over the market and found that horsepower is very, very tight. It is extremely hard to find a good, used hull to modify and refurbish. There are 30- to 35-year-old boats available [to refurbish]that were mediocre boats even when new. We elected not to do this.”
Golding chose designer Tim Hovas, who founded Newsouth Marine along with Joe Nichols, to build the Angie Golding after inspecting the yard’s first boat, the Marguerite L. Terral. The Angie is based on the same hull design.
“Tim is a real quality boatbuilder, a real perfectionist,” Golding said. “We went on the boat, interviewed the pilothouse personnel and got to see the design. We liked it, and decided to have him lengthen it from 103 feet to 110 feet. The tunneled hull is a work of art, it really is.”
The steel boat is powered by a pair of Caterpillar 3512B-II engines each producing 1,500 hp at 1,600 rpm. The engines turn 4-bladed, 84”×67”, stainless-steel wheels through Reintjes WAF-772 gears with 6.153:1 reduction ratios. The combination gives the Angie a design speed of 8 knots. The boat features a full Furuno electronics suite and a Capn Voyager electronic charting system. Ship’s service power is provided by a John Deere 6068 engine that drives a Marathon 99kw generator.
The boat has tankage for 34,000 gals. of fuel, 13,000 gals. water, 1,400 gals. gear oil, and 1,400 gals. lube oil.
The 94-foot, 2,600-hp steel towboats currently underway at Quality, the Nathan Golding and the John Reid Golding, are identical except for two items — the Nathan has a retractable wheelhouse and a 28’ beam while the John Reid is a conventional design with a 30’ beam. The Corning Townsend-designed boats both have a depth of 10’ and an 8’ draft. And like the Angie Golding, both will be outfitted with a pair of Cat 3512B engines. The boats will be delivered in mid-December.
“We asked Quality to incorporate some of the same features as the Angie,” said Golding. “They gave us more tunneling than on a stock boat.”
With the new boats, Golding expects to double the number of employees from 25 to 50 by next spring.