My photos of ACP tugs are coming, just not yet because in the  unrivaled crossroads of the oceans that is the Panama Canal, a slow look-around brings unparalleled reward.  Take Pacific Hope with her classic lines in diminutive scale.   Any ideas on her mission?  I figured oceanographic research, but

built in 1983 and registered in Dominica, she provides medical and dental care.  According to Facebook, she’s currently underway and bound for Cartagena, now quite high on my gallivanting list.

It appears the MSC vessel has calved?

Hercules Pride, in spite of her 1/3 scale, makes bunker runs between the Balboa port and the terminal on the island of Melones.

Pana Venture . . . nice lines but too many years on the hook with too little TLC . . .  that’s all I can say.   Anyone help?

Don Chebo appears to be a small tanker.  While trying to find info on the ship, I learned the name comes from a comic character in Guatemala.

Whatever the provenance of the ship, her propulsion comes from two Thrustmaster units, as seen in these Erie Canal boats. 

Discoverer 2 is tied up in Balboa between seismic assignments.  That appears to be the Sinopec logo right behind the wheelhouse.

Andres Felipe IV  . . . a modified landing craft, with the controls moved forward and to starboard?

Lady Remington II (a great name) and Coiba Cargo . . .  await cargo in a marina out by the Causeway Islands.

A Point-class former USCG patrols the Pacific side of the canal.

And I’ll end on a surprise, although not really . . . it’s USCGC Vigorous, a 1967 product of Lorain OH!  It appears that a crew boat is just arriving alongside.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

A joy I felt on the Pacific side came from seeing North American boats in these new seas.  Capt Latham stood out unambiguously as US ATB when I spotted her at anchor on the Pacific side, and has now made her way into the Canal.

The lines on Algab also suggested a past life in the US, and in fact, she was a US Army tug known as LT-331, built in Mobile AL in 1942.  She’d also operated for Moran and Bisso.

Pipsa I,  here with barge Ecomar 1 and operated by Ecomar as a slops/bilge water collection barge, strikes me also as a US design.  Anyone with ideas?  This reminds me of deadend I met with this Cuban tug . . .

Yaman is a 2011 China built tug registered in Chile.

Smit Guadeloupe here assists MSC Channe.

In the container port of Balboa and awaiting orders lie (l to r) Smit Grenada, Smit Dane (maybe), Smit Balboa, and Smit Curaçao.

Don Lucho is Netherlands Damen built 2008 and now sailing under the flag of Colombia, literally.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

A to P, being Atlantic to Pacific, beginning in Limón Bay–the Atlantic side of the isthmus:  it has a lot of ACP boats, and I’ll focus on those later, but for now, let’s sample the others I saw on the trip across the Bay to Cristobal.

This one on the hard in Shelter Bay . . . all I tell you about it is that it’s a Damen Stan Tug 1606 registered in Port Louis and likely operated by Jan de Nul Group, which has huge dredging interests in the Canal;  I’ll post photos of dredging soon.  Port Louis . . . would that be Grenada?

Choroy was built in Singapore in 1997.

The colors here in the port of Cristobal are perfect.

SST Portobello, built in Vietnam and the Netherlands and arrived here last year, bears the name of a Panamanian port recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

SST Yagui is a 2011 build, flagged Mexican, or was at one time.  The prefix SST could represent SaamSmit Towage.

Smit Aruba (2006) has been painted in Saam Smit colors.

I believe that says Choy Lee, which suggests the owners of this small tug want to be associated with builder of a class of  ACP tugs. 

Choy Lee‘s partner on the job is Thelma S. 

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Tugster robots have done most of the work around here the past week and a half as I’ve transited a continent, in the skinniest possible location, starting from old Fort Sherman . . . past the Toro Point Light

hightailing past some toothy denizens

and fuel boats and

avoiding treacherous reefs of Limon Bay

to rise up across the continental divide

past the signs and

cut through that divide and under the 100 years’ bridge

and down to Pacific level.  This shot shows the entrance to the Miraflores locks to the right and the the new Cocoli locks to the left.

Turning Pacificward, that’s the islands of (l to r) Tabogilla and Taboga, where Gauguin recuperated.

We anchored in a bay just off the Flamenco Island signal station.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who has hundreds more covering the transit and gallivants at either end.  By the way, the first ship I saw at Gatun was NYK Daedalus, a sixth boro regular.


The harbor of NYC . . . the watery parts I call the sixth boro . . . is quite diverse.  Bridgebuilder 22 (2012) I caught in Erie Basin,

where I also saw Miss Aida (2002), formerly known as American Muscle.  Now that’s a name!!

Stephen B has been on the blog before, but this is the first time I had my camera with me as I passed Westchester Creek.

Treasure Coast was at Caddell Dry Dock and Repair earlier this month . . .

as were Evening Mist and Genesis Glory and 

Pearl Coast.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Here are previous posts in this “whatzit” series, the most recent being components of The Vessel.

So what’s this craft below?

Well, back in September 2010, she was excursion vessel Commander running into the Hudson Highlands out of Haverstaw.  She nearly made it to 100 years in various excursion assignments after being launched in North Carolina in 1917 as SP-1247. 

I next saw her next to the marine railway in Greenport in May 2015, and then

she had quite the makeover on Staten Island and Brooklyn, converted into a floating marina building in front of Brooklyn Heights.  Quite the second . . .  or tenth life for this former naval vessel.  I do hope to see inside later this year.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Thanks to my sister for sending these photos along from Nassau.  Amber Jack and fleet mates look to be in need of some work, but I am out of my depth here;  I’ve been unable to find little out about these boats.  I thought the rendering was unusual as well.

Snapper sports a different version of bow pudding.


If I’m not mistaken, that’s Atlantis in the distance.

From l to r here, they are Lady Holley, Tiki, and Turbot.  Is that upper platform of Turbot used for pilot transfers?

Maybe someone can help identify the age and provenance of these tugs that seem somewhat down at the heels.

Thanks, sister.


Jonathan C Moran has appeared here plenty of times afloat, and once in dry dock as seen from her stern.

The size and depth of her hull can be better appreciated, I believe, when seeing her from the bow, with workers showing scale.

Then I was especially fortunate to have her siblings–maybe James D. here–pass by in the KVK, several hundred feet beyond the dry dock.

Then seconds later, another sibling–Kirby–passes as she

keeps pressure on the stern of MSC Chicago.

This is my first view of the amount and configuration of submarine fendering on this tug.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


The challenge here is to have clear photos and lights.  Evening Star with B. No. 250 starts us off,

Jean Turecamo is on assignment with a barge,

Reinauer Twins heads back for the Kills,

TRF Memphis waits in Stapleton anchorage,

Mount St. Elias departs her barge,

and Alice Austen, usually the wee hours ferry, runs early.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Here we are in 2018, and Grouper is still in purgatory,

aground on a soft smooth bottom created when the Canal is drained,

when the waterway looks like a brook.  I’m told that portions of the Canal in Oswego have been drained as of last week, and I hope to see for myself one of these days.

Grouper, if you are new to this blog, is a stranded Great Lakes tug–sibling to these in Cleveland, and launched in 1912!!

Many thanks to Bob Stopper for these photos.



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