Marine logistics operator OpenTug was founded in 2019 with the goal of helping the marine service industry become more accessible to customers by delivering advanced transportation solutions at the click of a button, the company said.

By lowering the barrier of entry for marine logistics services through a centralized marketplace and managed marketing solutions, the Seattle-based company promises to increase provider utilization and customer satisfaction, resulting in lower acquisition costs for providers and more competitive pricing for customers, decreasing deadweight loss and optimizing the market as a whole. 

OpenTug is also designed to increase efficiency and growth in the marine transportation market by providing transparency and connectivity between customers' needs and operators' assets.

For shippers and agents the OpenTug site offers booking online and booking management, filing of competitive bids from previous bookings, progress transparency, document tracking and shipments, and all transport needs including harbor services and charters.

“We are creating a system that will align our goals with the operators,” said Jason Aristides, OpenTug’s director. “This system will allow more cargo to be moved by technology, which can do it cheaper and cleaner. And it can benefit the U.S. supply chain.”

OpenTug is currently targeting the U.S. barge industry, hoping to make cargo moves easier and more efficient for barge owners and operators. A shipper will be able to go to the OpenTug website and find out which barge companies have equipment available, instead of going to individual barge company sites — all in one click, the company said.

Shippers will also be able to contract with trucking companies to move the cargo where it needs to go by land. “We plan to fully integrate a cargo,” said Aristides.

OpenTug makes its money by charging customers a monthly fee. “It’s designed like the airlines have with Google Flights,” part of Google Travel, a service that clears the way for the purchase of airline tickets through third-party suppliers, said Aristides.

The site is designed for any company hauling cargoes anywhere in the U.S.

Island Freight Line, operated by 41 North Offshore LLC, is now receiving bookings through OpenTug for twice-a-week barge sailings between Nantucket, Mass., and New Bedford, Mass., Aristides said.

Because of increased traffic on the ferries that service Nantucket island, many businesses and shippers had no way to get their goods to the island.

Island Freight Line saw an opportunity to demonstrate the value of short-sea shipping and allow businesses and shippers to continue shipments to the island. The company obtained a license for a pilot program to transport commercial freight vehicles on its deck barge THING 1 and utilize the Steamship Authority terminal in Nantucket..

Island Freight Line now markets the sailings, handles bookings and quotes, accepts payments, and manages customers, freight and record tracking.

To help launch the new operation, Island Freight Line teamed with OpenTug to implement a platform capable of supporting the requirements of the new operation, the barge company said.

"We see tremendous potential in short-sea shipping. One of the historical difficulties with short-sea shipping has been finding a way to connect shippers with operators,” Jonah Mikutowicz, owner of Island Freight Line, said in a statement. “OpenTug’s platform enables shippers to easily source short-sea operators, such as Island Freight Line. OpenTug has allowed Island Freight Line to take a short-sea concept, quickly put it into service, and give businesses and shippers that otherwise may have been out of luck an alternative method for transportation to the island of Nantucket.”

"We are excited to assist Island Freight Line with their short-sea shipping operation and demonstrate how technology can enable rapid adoption by general shippers of the cheapest and greenest mode of transportation,” said Aristides.


Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.