Great Lakes Towing expands with four tug buy

The Great Lakes Towing Co. based in Cleveland, has acquired four large harbor tugs from McAllister Towing and Transportation, a move Great Lakes officials say is part of a larger expansion plan that includes reactivating four of its own idled tugboats and refurbishing 15 others.

The deal brings into the Great Lakes fleet the newly renamed Michigan, the former Susan McAllister, 75”6”x24’x13’ twin-screw boat built in 1965 and powered by two Caterpillar 3512 engines with 2,400 horsepower.

Three more are 102’x29’x13’ boats, originally built as U.S. Navy Natick-class tugs between 1963 and 1974: The Huron, Ontario and Erie, the former Daniel McAllister, Jeffrey K. McAllister and Missy McAllister. The single-screw tugs are powered by Fairbanks Morse 38D-8-1/8×10 diesels generating 2,000 horsepower.

The Huron, Ontario and Erie pack firefighting ability as well, each with a 2,000 gpm diesel water pump and two deck monitors capable of delivering up to 1,500 gpm. All four boats have been in service with McAllister since that company acquired them in 2001-2002.

“These four tugs will be immediately added to the fleet, and provide some new life and operational stability to our day-to-day business,” Gregg Thauvette, vice president – operations for Great Lakes said in announcing the acquisition this week.

“The equipment and machinery onboard, including the towing gear and firefighting equipment, are ideal for our operations across the Great Lakes, and will help us to continue to provide harbor towing services to our customers in more than 35 U.S. ports, in all eight U.S. Great Lakes’ states,” he said.

Meanwhile, the company’s major fleet overhaul has updated nine tugboats so far, with three more in progress and another three scheduled for the yard. Four more boats that have been out of service over the last few years are to be reactivated too.

Great Lakes president Joe Starck said the company’s shipyard business is picking up with new builds, including one of two new tugboats for the New York Power Authority’s Niagara Power Plant operations in Buffalo, N.Y. There are also two small work barges taking shape for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District.

“We also have many other very interesting new construction projects on the table,” Starck said. This new vessel construction business is in addition to our ongoing regular, in-house, commercial and government repair and modification work, where we regularly perform routine dry docking, maintenance, emergency repairs and custom fabrication services.”

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