The 110'x33' linehaul towboat Gretchen V. Cooper, built by Blakeley BoatWorks (BBW), was delivered to Cooper Marine and Timberlands (CMT) this month.

BBW and CMT, located in the port of Mobile, Ala., are wholly owned subsidiaries of Cooper/T. Smith. The company said the new towboat, which has a maximum 8'6" working draft, is the U.S.’s first linehaul towing vessel powered by a Tier 4 Caterpillar high-speed engines with selective catalytic reduction. 

Currently, Tier-4 diesel engine standards are the strictest Environmental Protection Agency emissions requirements for new engines found in inland marine vessels. Tier-4 compliant engines significantly reduce emissions of particulate matter, or black soot, and nitrogen oxides to near zero levels. The engines are designed to save fuel and reduce emissions by more than 86% for large applications like marine vessels.

The new towboat is powered by two Caterpillar C3512E 3,400-hp Tier 4 diesel marine engines operating at 1,800 RPM and coupled to Twin Disc MGX-5600 gears.

The Cats are connected to Southeastern Propeller 88"x74"x9" 4-bladed stainless-steel propellers to provide thrust through twin J&S Machine Works 9" ABS Grade two propeller shafts with Cutlass shaft bearings, Thordon rudder bearings, and Kemel shaft seals. Gulf Coast Air and Hydraulics supplied the steering system for the two 9" main and four 8" flanking rudders.

Hydra Force LLC provided a pair of Quincy reciprocating air compressors, with ventilation fans provided by Donovan Marine. Schuyler Maritime LLC supplied varying sizes of rubber fendering around the perimeter of the vessel and push knees.

Thompson Caterpillar also supplied electrical power with two Cat C4.4 Tier 3 generators with RW Fernstrum keel coolers throughout.

Stone Construction provided a Mitsubishi mini-split HVAC system in all interior spaces with Blakeley BoatWorks providing all custom woodwork and interior finishes. Bozant supplied aluminum and rubber-framed windows.

On deck, Donovan Marine supplied a pair of Patterson 40-ton deck winches. Blakeley BoatWorks installed all electronics, communications, and an alarm system.

The towboat has a capacity of 44,200 gals. of fuel and 10,000 gals. potable water. The vessel is outfitted with six crew staterooms housing eight crewmen, 4 1⁄2 baths and a full galley arrangement.

“Our customers expect Blakeley BoatWorks and Cooper Marine & Timberlands to drive industry innovation, and our building and operating one of the industry’s most environmentally friendly towboats marks our unwavering commitment to always exceed their expectations,” Angus R. Cooper III, president, Cooper/T. Smith, said in a statement. “Naming a boat after my wife Gretchen meant that we couldn’t just settle for building a standard towboat and therefore, the Gretchen V. Cooper will be one of the most powerful towing vessels operating on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and will lead the way for a new industry standard for reduced emissions on towboats.”

Cooper Marine & Timberlands has a fleet of 20 towing vessels and more than 400 hopper barges. CMT has one of the country's largest fleet of dry bulk gantry and floating derrick cranes. The company’s marine footprint includes the Tennessee-Tombigbee River system, Ohio River, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Illinois River, Arkansas River, Cumberland River, Black Warrior River, Tennessee River, Tombigbee River, Mobile River, and Mississippi River. CMT’s stevedoring operations include two deep-draft bulk cargo terminals at the port of Mobile and numerous inland marine terminals throughout Alabama and Mississippi.

“The ongoing investments that CMT is making across our fleet best ensures that our customers will continue to receive the safest, most environmentally friendly, and highest level of service in our region,” said James Fowler, managing director of marine and stevedoring operations for Cooper Marine and Timberlands and executive vice president for Blakeley BoatWorks. “As was true when BBW built some of the nation’s first subchapter M new construction towing vessels and now, as we deliver a new linehaul with the latest and most advanced carbon reduction technology, BBW eagerly stands ready to deliver on our industry’s newest and most challenging jobs.”

Blakeley BoatWorks is a full-service shipyard that specializes in small vessel repair, barge repair, and new vessel construction. It is equipped with a 1,900-ton floating dry dock, 660-ton Marine Travelift, and four covered fabrication shops.

“Our team is proud to be part of the construction of the Gretchen V. Cooper,” said Swathin Kannalath, managing director of Blakeley BoatWorks. “Delivering one of the first Tier-4 linehaul vessels in the country presented an exciting challenge for the Blakeley team, and we delivered with this vessel, meeting not only the highest industry standards but also exceeding our customer’s expectations.”


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.