Over One Million Horsepower Tugs Sold or Chartered

by Hans | December 29th, 2016

With the latest and second sale of the 7,200HP tug “Jimmy Smith” (ex-Gulf Commander) to private U.S. West
Coast buyers, Marcon International, Inc. of Coupeville, Washington has over the last 35 years brokered 322 tugs
for sale or charter totaling 1,005,657HP.

The 150.0’ x 40.1’ x 22.0’ depth / 20.2’ loaded draft, twin screw “Jimmy Smith” was built in 1976 by Equitable Shipyards, Inc. of Madisonville, Louisiana to ABS +A1, Towing Service, Ice Class C, +AMS class as Hull 1667, the “Gulf Commander”. She was one of two sister, offshore anchor-handling tugs built for Gulf Mississippi Marine, which later became Gulf Fleet Marine of Houston, Texas in 1978 and Zapata Gulf Marine Service in 1985. Tidewater, Inc. acquired the tug in their 1992 acquisition of Zapata Gulf. In 2002, Marcon brokered the sale of the “Gulf Commander” from Tidewater to Honolulu-based Smith Maritime / Hawaiian Inter-island Towing and tug was renamed “Jimmy Smith” after the company’s founder. After being mobilized from the Gulf Coast and completing an extensive shipyard maintenance and repair period, the tug supported Smith Maritime’s inter-island petroleum trade and salvage operations. In 2004, “Jimmy Smith” sailed from Honolulu and successfully towed in the German 58,768mtdw, 282.1m x 32.2m x 32.2m depth, “Hanjin Pretoria”. The 4,300TEU, fully laden container ship was dead in the water after it’s MAN B&W main engine failed on 14th  December while doing 19kn about 1,000 miles north of Hawaii. The tug reached the “Hanjin Pretoria” on 20th  December and it took two days to connect up due to the heavy North Pacific winter weather. The tug’s 21 man crew were well supplied with sufficient food and water, but I have no idea whether a Christmas tree or Christmas pudding was included in the stores. The tow to Honolulu was completed the first week of the New Year. K-Sea Transportation of New Jersey inherited the “Jimmy Smith” in 2007 when they acquired Smith Maritime. Four years later Kirby Corporation of Houston, Texas completed acquisition of K-Sea Transportation Partners and their fleet of 58 tank barges and 63 tugs including the “Jimmy Smith”.

The raised foc’stle bow tug is powered by twin EMD 20-645E7A diesels with Reintjes WAV 4800 5:1 gears and 144” x 144” 4-blade fixed pitch props on 12” shafts in kort nozzles, plus is fitted with a 535HP bow thruster to enhance maneuverability. She has a bollard of 103 short tons and free running speed of abt. 11 – 13kn on 220 – 330gph. Her 221,400g fuel capacity give the tug a range of abt. 11,070nm at 11kn. Towing gear consists of an Intercon DD 250 double drum side-by-side tow winch with a wire capacity of abt. 4,000’ and 2,000’ of 2” wire, stern roller and Intercon tow pins. “Jimmy Smith” was laid up in fresh water at the time of the sale.

Considering that the present average age of the U.S. flag “sea-going” tug fleet is 34 years (built 1982), this sale of a forty year tug is a good example of “out with the old, in with the new” and fleet renewal in the towing industry. Kirby’s new high-horsepower tugs include the 2015 built, 10,000HP AT/B “Nancy Peterkin” and “Tina Pyne” plus two 120’, 4,900HP twin screw line-haul tugs to be delivered Spring & Fall 2017 — all by Nichols Bros. Boat Builders on Whidbey Island; the 6,000HP AT/B tug “Heath Wood” built by the Fincantieri Marine Group of Sturgeon Bay; a new coastal petrochemical tank barge, one 185,000bbl AT/B and two 155,000bbl AT/Bs.

Marcon International, Inc. was the sole broker in both sales of the “Jimmy Smith”. This is the ninth tug, totaling
26,490HP, sold to-date in 2016. Nineteen vessels and barges have been sold by Marcon International this year and
1,410 sold or chartered since 1981. Several additional sales are pending.

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