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A friend and occasional contributor recently sent this photo, a tighter cropped version of just this photo and asked what is was.  I won’t volunteer what I thought, but I was wrong.  Can you guess?

Here’s a bit more detail, quite a bit more, in fact.   It was intended as number 3 of 32, but now it’s much more limited, the third of three. 

Behold USS Lyndon B. Johnson aka DDG-1002.  Her ceremonial keel laying was exactly six years ago, January 30, 2017, although she was partially built by then.  Her launch was late fall 2018, and christening  . . .  spring 2019.  She’s currently in Pascagoula MS and at last report, being prepped to enter service in 2024.

Many thanks to eastriver for passing these photos along.

As I’ve stated previously, these 600′ x 81′ military vessels are reminiscent of the ironclads, especially the CSS ones, of the US Civil War. 

I saw DDG-1000 in process of being built in the Kennebec way back almost a decade ago here

I’ve got a backlog of photos you all have sent along.  I’ll start here with some photos from my sister, Cookie Baker, who has sent along this and this, along with others over the years. 

Any guesses as to the what and where?

Some of you already know, but the 

location here is Alameda CA.  Saildrone fits in the same niche as the XOcean vessels that were working in the NY Bight a few months back.  USVs have been used on the Great Lakes already also here.  And then there’s Sea Hawk, what the USN is experimenting with in the SURFDEVRON program.

Many thanks to my sister for sending these photos along to her sixth boro brother. 


 . . . signing onto the 6200-teu Maersk Detroit and stepping off at the end of a hitch, this post is inspired by a sixth boro mariner on a milk run.  Many thanks to Mike Weiss** for most of the photos.  It took him 77 days to get from Port Elizabeth back to Port Elizabeth.  Day 1 was back in early November. 

Yesterday I caught a few photos in the KVK of the vessel on the last few miles of a voyage mostly halfway around the world and back.

Mike, an AB, texted me their ETA into the KVK and  

in cold overcast morning I wore my conspicuous vest and waited

to see people on the aft mooring deck.

Welcome home, Mike. This is a timeless way to go so sea:  depart from your home and return to it. 

The following are some photos Mike took along the way, as in the Strait of Gibraltar just before calling at the port of Algeciras

Port Said at the aft mooring deck thousands of sea miles ago, 

entering the Suez Canal and heading under the Al-Salam Bridge (I think), and 

about to exit the Suez following . . . Ever Given [yes, really!!], 

getting an assist at Port Qasim

port of Salalah

and then homeward across the Atlantic to 

port of Houston

and port of Charleston, with many other sights that only Mike can tell about along the way. 

Many thanks to Mike Weiss for sharing these photos and his experiences.  If you didn’t click on the ** link in the first paragraph, you’ll be happy to do it here for some of Mike’s sea resume. 

Maersk Detroit is part of the US-flagged Maersk fleet. 

Ever Given has a big sister now here



Grouper . . . that’s likely a quite familiar name to anyone who’s followed this blog a while, given all the posts dedicated to this 1912 vessel that’s spent two decades or so not far from where I grew up, 350 miles away from the sixth boro, which she intended to transit but was prevented by shallows from doing that.  Had she transited the harbor and headed south to sea two decades ago, no doubt she’d already have been reefed, as happened with her traveling companions.  Instead she languished in the canal, prompting many folks up there to imagine a future for the Great Lakes vessel with such sweet lines.  But first a bit of her history and all her previous names

I’m told she’s currently really being prepped for the scrappers’ jaws.  Along with imagining lots of different futures, folks have also imagined these jaws were imminent many times before.  Maybe it will happen this time, but first,  let’s imagine a rescuer coming in to save her.  Her appointment with the scrapper gets cancelled, if not permanently, then at least there’s a reprieve. 

The rescuer arrives with tugboat Virginia and a plan:  the 1912 tug will be towed 

out the western route to Buffalo and then deeper water, waters where she worked from back in 1912. 

In this revery, rescue is tentative at first . . .

with misgivings about their prospects,

But little by little, 

the ability to visualize the Great Lakes begins to take hold. 

There is sunshine, and if no parades and marching bands, then at least a few folks with cameras marking her liberation. 

Virginia is unstoppable, clearing one lock after another, rising up toward the level of the Great Lakes. 

She makes Fairport come and go . . . as they head west. 

But as in a twilight zone . . . froth and momentum 

suddenly comes to an end and she grounds,  stuck on a shoal, unable to be pulled any farther.  Now she’s cut off from deeper water to the west just as she’s cut off east.

This all happened a little over a decade ago.  I can just imagine the thrill of victory leading up to this painful moment.

Many thanks to Larry Bolanowski for sending along these photos of what almost succeeded.  Imagine if she’d made it back west . . . .  Imagine that Kahlenberg purring happily . . .


Thanks to a friend for passing along these photos, which follow on Other Peoples Photos and Chancellor 2 from several years ago.  File this under . . . not many machines live forever or even for a century.  In the photo below, you almost get the sense that an 85-year-old tugboat is about to get some much needed TLC aka spa treatment, but

as seen from the other side, 

it looks like strike 3 for keeping her intact.  She’s been opened up, prepped as an organ donor, I hope.

Thanks for these photos . . . MK.  This is not the ending I expected after the auction.

Related only in concept, organ donation info can be found here

A one-year-older “shipyard sister” of Chancellor –currently called Patriotic–can be seen here.  Does anyone have recent photos of Patriotic?


Hat tip to Jan van der Doe for sending along a set of tugboat photos from the Lekhaven area of Rotterdam harbor.  Rather than shotgun approach and posting a lot of photos, I just chose one tugboat for today’s post . . .   Brutus.  Click here to get all the specs for the boat.  Let me highlight some info.

She’s big and shallow:  117′ x 47′ x max draft of just over 9′, the first ever Damen Shoalbuster 3514 SD (Shallow Draft) with DP2 ever built, and launched less than two years ago.  Propulsion is provided by four Caterpillar C32 ACERT engines delivering 5,280 hp to four 6.2′ nozzles. 

Here’s another link.  For the rest of the Herman Sr. fleet, click here

Thx to Jan Oosterboer and Jan van der Doe for these photos.

Here are the nine previous installments of this title. 

If you think a blog devoted to tugboats is narrowly focused, imagine one devoted solely to herons.  Babsje has been doing that for longer than tugster has been around.  She sent me this image yesterday in response to my solicitation of seasonal photos.  She told me that getting a heron to pose with that cap was quite the feat.

2017 Holiday Heron – babsjeheron

If you’re delighted by the photo and her blog posts like this and this, you might want to drop a note of cheer and encouragement on her blog;  she’s a photographer and is currently unable to photograph because of cataract surgery.

In case you’re wondering, not all her herons wear red caps like this.

Merry Christmas, WVD, who may be spotty posting in the next few days and likely off FB for that duration.


Can you identify this text?  “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”  I’ll provide the answer at the end of this post. 

Thanks much to George Schneider for sending along this “cheer,”  Wedell Foss, Port Angeles WA and taken last night.

As for me, I’m staying inside mostly today and not going out looking for Christmas Eve festivity photos, but I planned ahead and have these to share.  Know this be-decked-the-decks boat?


South Street Seaport Museum always decorates the boats. 

And this captain, maybe he supports his whirlwind worldwide Christmas Eve navigations by peregrinating the sixth boro days and nights all the rest of the year?  Did you realize the North Pole elf king had a USCG license?

So merry Christmas eve from tugster tower.  Thanks for reading the blog, commenting, sending along photos, sending me cards, sharing tips, and especially leaving me off the list when the subpoenas go out. 

Now that quote . . . I remember friends used to have posters on their walls with that text way back when.  Here’s more:

“… As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit….

Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”   It’s Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata.  That link gets you the whole short text.

Since it was 7 degrees F this morning in the sixth boro, here are some southern Christmas tips, southern as in Chile, that is.  I think of warm Chile in northern winter because around the five boros and beyond, it’s where our road salt comes from.  

Many thanks to George for sending along the photo, and the ferry captain for transporting cheer around the sixth boro.  Gary Steele, thanks for reminding me about Desiderata, product of Terre Haute IN. 

If you have your own tugsteresque seasonal photos you wish to share, please send them. 

 . . . but first, a followup from yesterday’s post, where I was wondering about the three figures in orange.  Thanks to a reader, Tommy Bryceland

for calling my attention back to a fourth figure.   See that orange way high up in the mast?  He’s right to “call my attention” because while I was getting these photos, I had seen another figure in orange but then lost track.  A day later, while putting together the blog post, I’d forgotten all about that fourth person and perceived that orange up there as a flag or pennant of some sort.   Thanks much, Tommy.  As I watched, it did seem the three were motionless for quite a while.

Suns?  At sunrise the other morning, 

Cobalt Sun–an intriguing name– and 

Advantage Sun anchored in adjacent spaces in the Stapleton.  

Coincidence, of course. 

A number of Suns call in the sixth boro:  Grouse Sun, Orange Sun (which was also in the boro this past Sunday), Norwegian Sun . . . and more.  I haven’t seen any “son” or “daughter” that I can recall.

That sent me wondering about related names, like Star, and this past few years, we’ve seen VOS Star, Angel Star, Sound Bound Star, Rotterdam Star, Kongo Star . . . and of course all the ones I missed.  Another–Evening Star–has now become Jordan Rose

And that leads me to a real STAR in the sixth boro right now . . . Silver Muna.  Possible fleet mates featured here previously include Silver Joan, Silver Ellie, Silver Ginny . . .  but why is Silver Muna a star, and not a tristar?   John Huntington managed to document an important incident last night.  It’s grainy, I know, but see the vessel name along the top and toward the left?

Commotion was not limited to the water;  in the air . . . choreographed helicopters.  Commotion and chatter on AIS and no doubt among emergency crews and family members privately ….

Silver Muna arrived with two rescued, and very lucky, recreational sailors and a poodle named Minnie lost at sea, 200+ miles offshore and at the edge of shipping lanes.   Here’s the story of the rescue from ProfessionalMariner magazine, and here’s the Silver Muna rescue story from Workboat.  Even the NYTimes got a story with a photo of one of the sailors coming ashore last night**. I’m sure this is just the kind of “feel good” story picked up all over on media, so no matter what you consume, you might have heard, read, or seen this story.  Hat tip to the Silver Muna and USCG crews involved.   I’m not sure AMVER (automated mutual-assistance vessel rescue) was involved; AMVER is a USCG-sponsored program to coordinate just such rescues. 

**A “feel good” story it is.  It also illustrates good citizens, in this case seafarers, saving lives and then disappearing from the tale:  Silver Muna is a machine of course (I personify too much) but people exercised extra time, effort, and skill. Yet, and maybe of their own choice or dictated by company policy, they’re not named or pictured.  A cautionary story it is too:  a short coastwise trip can require every piece of emergency equipment AND training how/when to use you can get. 

Here was a previous AMVER rescue story.  And here . . . a story of a tugboat, now local, that rescued a 17-year-old in the Straits of Florida years ago.  Here’s a story about a recent Lifesaving recognition awarded to crews on the inland waterways.

Many thanks to John for sharing the Silver Muna photos.  All others, WVD.

I like reader-submitted photos, especially when they show something I’ve not seen before, like this black low-profile unit, which may or may not have the name Elizabeth II,  in front of this Kirby inland barge.  Photo was taken somewhere west of Atchafalaya Bay by eastriver. 

See the unit at the bow of that barge?

Prime mover here is Louisa Frances.  So what is that forward unit? 

It’s a “bow boat,” as in here.  Scroll through and you’ll see a version called Chuck Norris and a Steermaster here

Next topic . . . after a reference and comments here, Jan vander Doe sent along this photo of an opduwer on a Dutch waterway below.  Literally the Dutch “opduwer” translates as “up pusher,” once again proving that tow boats can push, and push boats can tow . . . as long as they have the right deck fittings. 

Third . . .  the mobile boat lift that’s been at Bayonne Dry dock for a year and a half now was christened yesterday as Christopher Edward.  Read this story here

I’m happy to read this, although I’ve not heard of a travel lift or mobile boat hauler bearing a name.  On the other hand, the floating dry docks at Caddells have numbers and names

Finally, I caught an “exotic” heading out of the sixth boro the other day.  She’s been in and out before, but…. like I said… I finally got a photo of 

Miss Emma McCall.  A fleetmate–Brooks McCall –has been operating in the LI Sound and Narragansett Bay, but I’m not up there much.  To digress, would anyone up on Sound and N Bay send me photos of unusual vessels now and again?  I know the wind farm work is bringing in lots of exotics to southern New England ports. 

More on TDI Brooks and this vessel can be found by clicking on those links. 

Thanks to eastriver and Jan for their photos;  all others and any errors . . . WVD. 


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January 2023