Nearly 100 industry leaders, friends and family gathered on a blustery October day to celebrate the christening of the pusher tug Capt Kenneth at Smith Brothers Inc. in Galesville, Md. The honoree, Kenneth Smith, 99, looked on as his son and company president, Jeffrey, paid tribute to the skilled local team that built the tug that bears his name.

“This boat arrived here as flat plates of steel and, in the course of three years, we have built a very able tug using the talents of everyone here,” said Jeffrey Smith.

The Capt Kenneth is 49'×19'×7'6" with an operating draft of 5'-6'. The late Oliver Bryant, a Pascagoula, Miss., naval architect, drew the hull lines. The model bow with push knees coupled with its shallow draft makes the boat ideal for moving the Smith Brothers’ rental barge fleet in Chesapeake Bay.

“We call this a ‘Bayworthy’ tug,” said Preston Hartge, general manager at Smith Brothers, who supervised the design and construction process. “Our rental fleet operates all over the Bay and we need both the shallow draft and the power of the Kenneth to handle our barges and also the ability to handle rough weather when we are light boat.” 

Power is supplied by twin John Deere 6125 engines each rated at 341 hp at 1,800 rpm turning 40"×42" Kaplan props in Custom Nozzle Fabricators nozzles through ZF 325W marine gears with 3.5:1 ratios. During installation, the engines were converted to air starters.

Throughout the building process, Smith Brothers worked closely with U.S. Coast Guard inspectors to be certain the boat would be compliant with Subchapter M regulations. Hartge said Coast Guard Sector Baltimore made numerous courtesy inspections throughout the building process. “They assisted us in understanding requirements for such things as safety valving on the air compressor and fire hydrant placement,” said Hartge. “It saved us from making costly changes later.”

The Capt Kenneth features a fire control station at the entrance to the engine room designed by marine electrician Michael Giannotti. The clearly marked instructions panel allows anyone to shut down the engines, deploy fire suppression agents and starve the engine room of air.

“This equipment is required on any tug, but we decided to put it all in one place,” said Giannotti.

Kobelt supplied fly-by-wire engine controls and steering systems. 

Nabrico provided DF-156 hydraulic-electric 22-ton face-wire winches. The use of electric over hydraulic allows the motors to be mounted below decks minimizing corrosion.

“We all live and work on the Chesapeake and take our environmental responsibilities personally,” said Hartge. “The Kenneth is zero-discharge, with no black water at all by installing an Incinolet head.”

Building their own boat allowed the company to select higher quality equipment than if they were dealing with a shipyard, according Smith. “There are no change orders to negotiate when you are the builder,” he said. “I feel like we got the exact boat we wanted.”

The Capt. Kenneth joins its sister, Megalodon, another 50' model bow pusher tug built at Smith Brothers. — Kathy Bergren Smith