Silver Ships Inc. recently delivered the largest marine surveying vessel of its series, designed for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Venice Sub Office in Venice, La. The 49' marine surveying vessel, Tobin, is the latest expansion in Silver Ships’ Endeavor series of workboats.

Tobin is custom designed for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to hydrographically map the mouth of the Mississippi River. This mission-specific vessel will allow researchers to accurately and effectively obtain and document data on the rapidly changing waters in the Mississippi River. With the intent of keeping waterways open and preventing obstructions to marine navigation, Tobin is designed to handle challenging river terrain. The custom vessel will conduct condition surveys of the river to further the safety of marine operations.

Tobin will join a fleet of vessels operating out of the USACE Venice Sub Office that works year-round to provide river condition data to vessel operators,” Jason Powers, director of business development for Silver Ships, said in a statement announcing the delivery. “This data is essential to the safe and efficient transportation of goods up and down the Mississippi River.”

The vessel is powered by twin Caterpillar C18 Tier 3 engines making 800 hp each to reach optimal speeds resulting in the prevention of research delays, which is important considering the frequent changes in Mississippi River conditions. The single Caterpillar C2.2 Tier 3 genset provides 25 kW of electric power for Tobin’s air conditioning, echo sounder, and other electrical needs onboard.

Thompson CAT is proud to partner with Silver Ships for their power needs,” said Richard Tremayne, Thompson’s marine business manager. “Together our engineering teams have designed and built significant boats like Tobin over many years. High-performance power installations are always fun puzzles to solve with talented companies like the Silver Ships team.”

Tobin operates with enhanced features such as the Twin Disc MGX-5136RV marine gears, Michigan Wheel propellers, Furuno navigation and communication systems, Delta ‘T’ Systems engine room ventilation, Arid Bilge Series 4 system, and Ayres paneling. 

With speeds that reach 28 knots, the surveying vessel allows researchers to acquire data quickly and prevent inconsistencies caused by changes in the river bottom. Additionally, Tobin is equipped with state-of-the-art technology including the EchoTrac, E-20 survey system which is the key component that allows the vessel to take survey measurements. The E-20 uses a single-beam transducer that charts river depths and monitors water changes that could be potentially hazardous to marine navigation.

The vessel's name honors Thomas G. Tobin who worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District for more than 30 years. As a capable engineer and brilliant programmer, Tobin developed systems that automated the processing and mapping of daily navigation condition surveys collected. He was a part of the engineering division channel improvement team and he achieved success with their automated design functions that ensure successful operations of the Mississippi River. Tobin passed away in February 2016, at the age of 54, after a courageous battle with cancer. He dedicated his skills to the Corps mission and made a broad, lasting, and meaningful impact on the entire district and the citizens of south Louisiana.