Bollinger Mississippi Shipbuilding began construction last week on the future USNS Muscogee Creek Nation, the 10th Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship (T-ATS). It's also the fifth T-ATS vessel being built by Bollinger since acquiring the program in April 2021.

The Navajo-class is a series of 263'x59'x24.6' T-ATS being built for the Navy. The Navajo-class is a multimission common hull platform that will be deployed to support a range of missions such as towing, rescue, salvage, humanitarian assistance, oil spill response and wide-area search and surveillance operations using unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The vessels will replace the existing Powhatan-class T-ATF fleet ocean tugs and Safeguard-class T-ARS rescue and salvage ships in service with the U.S. Military Sealift Command.

In 2018, Gulf Island Shipyards LLC, Houma, La., was awarded a $63.5 million contract from the Navy for the design and construction of a T-ATS, the first of its kind. In addition, the new boat had to have at least an ABS-classed DP-2 system, a bollard pull of 130 short tons, and a working deck area of 5,000 sq. ft. The contract included options for seven additional vessels. 

In April 2021, Gulf Island sold its long-term vessel construction contracts, including the T-ATS contract, along with the assets of its shipyard division to Bollinger Shipyards in a deal worth $28.6 million.

That same year, the Navy awarded Austal USA a $144 million, two-ship T-ATS detailed design and construction contract. The contract award marked the first steel new-vessel construction program for the company.

Designed with 17.7' drafts, the Navajo-class provides ocean-going tug, salvage, and rescue capabilities to support fleet operations, and are tasked with coming to the aid of stricken vessels. Their general mission capabilities include combat salvage, lifting, towing, retraction of grounded vessels, off-ship firefighting, and manned diving operations.

Main propulsion for the new tug will come from twin Wärtsilä 8L32 diesel engines, producing 6,308 hp each. Muscogee Creek Nation will have a running speed of 15.1 knots, a displacement of 5,110 LT, a range of 9,400 miles, and carry 42 sailors.

The new vessel will be classed +A1, +ACCU, Towing Vessel, E, +AMS, +DPS-2, CRC (OC-SUBSEA), and USCG certified.

In addition to T-ATS 10, Bollinger is constructing USNS Navajo (T-ATS 6), USNS Cherokee Nation (T-ATS 7), USNS Saginaw Ojibwe Anishinabek (T-ATS 8) and the USNS Lenni Lenape (T-ATS 9).

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.

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