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Thanks for your patience; this follows up the post from two days ago.  The port is Boston, the date is November 1960, and the fleet tied up at the T wharf.  Luna, pictured below, is still extant; the others . . . I believe are all gone.

Above in the distance and below, that’s Orion.

I have no ID on this gentleman in Orion‘s engine room, or

this gentleman in the wheelhouse of another era.

Allan Seymour went on to a career as a professional photographer, and he sent me these photos.

Here’s how I first saw two of the boats–including Luna–back in 1987.  Here’s a report on the historic value of Luna submitted to the Boston Landmarks Commission in March 1985.

Thanks for your guesses, both here and on FB.  For the Boston Public Library’s trove of T Wharf photos, click here.   And here is the motherlode, at least 150 photos of Boston tugboats from the Digital Commonwealth collection.


Click here and here for the first two sets of photos taken by JG.  JG’s photos–of the past–give context for the present and future.

In today’s post, all of the vessels at one point belonged to the same fleet, except one.  All have continued in service, except one.

Volans, photographed here in 2009, is now being reborn as Hannah.


For a short time, Volans became David McAllister, photo below from 2013.


Leslie Foss, photo from 2011, is now Simone, and I caught her in the sixth boro here in 2015. Simone trades internationally.


Leo, taken here in 2007, now works as Bridget McAllister.


Scorpius, photo from 2008, has worked mostly in the sixth boro as Meagan Ann, who first appeared here in this blog in  . . . 2008.


Orion, which I visited back in 2008,  became Matthew McAllister.


And finally, the last one, the one facing left, the only one that is no more.  She was scrapped after sinking in Narragansett Bay in 2008.  The photo below is from 2006.


All these tugboats except the last one once made up Constellation Maritime, which is no more.

Many thanks to JG for use of these photos.


“Really random” posts tend to be far-flung, so let’s start out with this photo by Jed, who has contributed many photos recently.   Then there’s JED, who has contributed photos starting from 2008.   The boat dates from 1975.

photo date 27 APRIL 2015

From Jan Oosterboer via Fred Trooster, here’s the 1955 tug Argus along with

0aaaarrt2ARGUS, Calandkanaal-0941

Orion (1961), and

0aaaarrt3ORION, Calandkanaal-0947

0aaaarrt3aORION, Calandkanaal-010

Sirius (1966).  It appears that Sirius–like Orion and Brendan Turecamo–also has a wheelhouse that can be raised.

0aaaarrt4SIRIUS, Calandkanaal-0971

For the scale of the “tow” here, scroll down and

0aaaarrt3bSIRIUS, Calandkanaal-0989

behold–Thialf, with a combined lifting capacity of over 14,000 tons!!  Click here to see the view down from Thialf’s deck AND be sure to read the comments that follow.   Here are a few other heavy-lifters including Saipem 7000.

0aaaarrt5THIALF, Calandkanaal-060

Heading back to NYC but as  the South Street Seaport Museum area of the sixth boro of NYC  looked in 1985, from a secret salt, it’s the 1939 USCGC WYT-93, Raritan!  The two vessels around her are, of course 1885 schooner Pioneer and 1908 lightship Ambrose.  Click here for a list of specifics and missions on Raritan, but one of her operations was against M/V Sarah of Radio NewYork International.  M/V Sarah was eventually blown up for a movie stunt.


And rounding this post out . . . from Elizabeth, in Alameda, it’s  the 1943 YT-181 Mazapeta.


In the distance is T-AKR-1001 GTS Admiral W. M. Callaghan, an MSC RORO named for a significant USN officer.


Credit for each of these photos is as attributed.  Thanks to you all.

E . . . enigmas.  I encounter many in my daily walkabout.  Although I  understand what happens if I don’t pay bills and what to do when I see a fury of red lights in my rear view mirror AND I understand “No” or “Oui” or “Sayonara” or their opposites, I rub shoulders and bump heads with lots of enigmas.   Sometimes I fail to understand my boss, my best friends, certainly the parrot living in my house, and even myself.  But if I had another life to live, I’d make it my business early on to understand engines.  My brother works on truck diesels and seems just to love them.  Some of you know tugboat engines well, but then others of you  have never seen one.

So here are a few.  Pegasus, which you’ve seen here and here.

aaaae2Cornell, which you’ve seen here and here.


Orion, which you saw here and now works in Boston.  Notice the polished aluminium head covers!  For a similar engine room, see Fred Tug 44‘s fotos here.


This is the block of an engine that once powered a 150 . . . or so foot tanker that sank;  it was salvaged and will someday provide parts for a repurposed work vessel that might just catch your eye in the sixth boro one of these years.


Decreasing in size seems to decrease the enigmatic value of engines for me;  this relatively small Deere diesel powers Onrust when it moving without wind power.


I’m guessing the huge block just behind the crewman in the center of the foto is a transmission rather than an engine;  the block along with the assembly and head supported by the gigantic chain all submerge when this dredge assembly is lowered into its work environment, the bedrock beneath the sixth boro.  For a charming watercolor of the business end of this unit done in boiled crawdad red,  see Bowsprite‘s latest here.

aaaae1Having called engines enigmatic doesn’t of course preclude my using them.  Something I really don’t understand is computers and the internet and cell phones and flip cameras . . .  and yet . . .  (Double click on a foto here and it enlarges;  I learned that today with ZeeBart’s help.)    If you know stuff about these or other engines, please share.  If you’ve a lot to say and fotos to go with, email me and you can do a guest post . . . fame and glory and big bucks . . . maybe even.  Otherwise,  engine room beauty shots . . . please send them.  From Steve, see the world’s largest diesel (maybe) here:  89′ long by 44′ high and generating up to 108,000  horsepower.

If you’ve never seen the engine room of a tugboat before, would you have expected a “white room?”

One things these fotos don’t represent is the deafening noise, but one of these days soon, I’m going to learn how to make these fotos talk and roar and maybe even sing in French.  Eh bien!  Till then, check out this tour of Moran tug Cape Cod‘s engine room.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Orion now in Boston, foto thanks to Jed.

Orion nine months ago drydocked on KVK, showing the non-props.

Rae a few weeks ago in Arthur Kill

and Rae two years back known then as Miss Bonnie.

Both Miss Bonnie fotos happened in Tottenville.

All fotos except top one by Will Van Dorp.

Acronyms make language learning the task of an entire lifetime. SDM(R)’s been around for a decade and–no surprise–I’m only just learning it. Any guesses what SDM(R) expands to? A clue is that it relates to the vessel below, which–I’m told–isn’t exactly an SDM(R). I’m not sure who took the foto; it was passed onto me. It’s the first–after over 1500 fotos–to go unattributed. Tell me you took it, and I’ll credit you. It’s a tractor tug, 90′ x 34′ 147 tons and 2400 hp. Hvide Marine in the southeast operates this vessel.

The link here tells the tale, but I’d love to know more of a track record. So, if you read the link, you now know this SDM(R)s a “ship docking module, revolutionary” in its design. As Jed describes the C-Tractor 10 foto, “Stern is left, bow right. Wheels (or drives) are just forward of the ‘midships port hole. When working a ship they place the stern against the unit to maximize wheel wash. If the bow was against the unit the wheel wash would just splash off the unit as the wheels would be too close to the hull and be of no use to the tug.”

If you open any links at all here, you must see this foto of a French SDM(R) of this design on the high and dry. It has ADFs, azimuthing drives forward. Many more tugs and pushboats here. Here are here are Rolls-Royce brochures, but they show only ASDs, azimuthing stern drives, not ADFs.

Below is Orion, the VSP tug (now back in Boston) that started out this series on unconventional propulsion. Notice all the green recycled glass around the drydock, detritus of the “sandblasting” process. Foto thanks to Ted.

Finally, here’s a succinct tug design history lesson link to a Marcon International Inc. article entitled “aesthetics of tug design.” The article includes a foto of a Miki tug design.

SDM(R) is located at this link showing both fotos and drawings showing the fore and aft location of the thrusters aka wheels. The vessel’s vitals: 76′ x 50,’ egg-shaped.

Tractors . . . sometimes even have half-tracks like this old orange Allis Chalmers waiting near the fire line on this fallow muck field. As a kid, I harvested beets here and saw this old AC designed to work the muck.

Orion–she without props–is a totally other tractor. Tractor tugs have low superstructure to avoid ship’s hull flare (compare with the towering tugs in “Richmond” post) and almost 360 fendering and windows. Square shape and directional propulsion increase maneuverabilty. Location of bubbles to port shows direction. Foto by B Thibault; thanks Ted.

Ellen McAllister, built in 1966 with conventional screws, took on z-drives in 2007 as part of a major refit. Some tractors even have a fair amount of submarine fendering.

Gramma Lee T. Moran, a z-drive tug built in Boothbay, Maine, dates from 2002. Great fotos here from Fred. Good fotos of the thrusters and Kort nozzles in this link to the Bangor newspaper.

Since I inadvertently deleted a comment from Jed on tractors, I retrieved it and pasted his input here:

“Kurt and Laney Chouest  contend that their ECO (Edison-Chouest Offshore) Tractor Tugs are TRUE tractors in that their Azimuthing Drives (Z-Drives) are FORWARD of ‘midships and PULL the boat vice PUSH.

ELLEN McALLISTER & ROBERT McALLISTER are retrofitted Navy YTBs with Azimuthing Stern Drives (ASD) and like to use the term REVERSE TRACTOR since the drives are aft instead of forward. It’s funny ‘cuz if you ever see an ECO Tractor Tug doing her thing, she made up backwards to get the most distanced between the unit she’s working and her drives. IMHO it’s a marketing ploy.  If the technology was THAT great all ZBoats would have their drives forward of ‘midships, but they don’t…most boats sport ASDs or the VSP eggbeaters.”

Thx, JED.

Photos, WVD.

It’s as simple as this: the buffleheads and brants are here in winter. Come spring, they leave. Then herons and egrets return. This one remained quite busy fishing amidst the hulks on Sunday.  Notice the hue of the egret’s plumage.


If you need a reminder of winter’s transience, here’s the tug currently called Orion as it arrived in Boston in February 2007. Next two fotos courtesy of Capt. Ted. The “white ice” has the same hue as the egret’s feathers and encases the vessels only until the inevitable thaw.



This befrosted one escorted Orion and Leo from the northwest, through the torrid Panama Canal, and into port of Boston.


Thank God it’s April.

Some basic numbers on Orion: LOA 95′, beam 30′. What’s remarkable to me is that afloat and moving forward, this vessel might not seem significantly different from all the other tugs along the coast. Notice the greenish floor of the dry dock. More on that later.


Below is a view of the starboard VSP from the engine room. Given the location of the drive unit midships, the engines are mounted with reduction gear forward. Notice the two vertical rods coupled onto different points of the disc cover. Those rods mechanically connect to the helm and levers to control orientation of the “props,” thereby the direction of the vessel. The disc cover is about 4′ diameter.



The shaft projecting downward through the deck is connected to the helm; one arm goes to each VSP unit.



For a little more sense of scale, the door in the drydock left side of the foto is 6′ tall. From floor of dry dock to top is about 18 feet.



Here’s another shot of the VSP. Each blade is about 4′ long.



Orion operates out of Boston with Constellation Maritime (out of date fotos), a subsidiary of Foss Maritime. Here’s a link to the Thea Foss story. The vessel below is tractor tug Leo, a Constellation Maritime tug with mostly similar lines. Many thanks, Ted, for the tour and the foto below.  Scroll all through this link for great fotos of this type of tug.


Except the last one from TA, photos . . . WVD.

That’s what Capt. Ted asked as we approached his vessel, Orion, ( high, dry, and freshly sandblasted) at May Ship Yard.  Notice here and elsewhere the greenish floor of the drydock.


Nor does Orion have a rudder. That’s a fixed skeg, as large as the keel of a sailboat.



Seen from the bow, there’s an odd “skid plate” mounted to the hull; those “tubes” are solid and have the strength to hold up the hull on a beach at low tide.



Between the hull and the plate are the external portions of the twin Voith-Schneider units, which serve as props and rudders. Here’s another link on the VSP. Here’s one to scroll through.



Side view showing the hard chines of the hull.



Orion has twin sets of controls; these look aft. The wheel walks the tug laterally; twin levers to the right walk it forward and aft without having to idle down from one direction to the other. Controls farther right are for the winch.

Orion was built as America in 1982 in Coos Bay, Oregon. More fotos later.

Photo, WVD.

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