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One enjoyable thing about this tugster “business” is that you all send me photos, some of which I’ve shared 108 times before this post.

First, from a Mississippi River vantage point that I only recently left, some photos from Lew, who previously contributed these photos.  

I’ll consult for the low down on this vessel.



Thanks, Lew, and I’d left New Orleans just the day before;  sorry to have missed you.  I did, however, serendipitously cross paths with Bjoern of New York Media Boat while I was there.  That’s another story.

Tony A sent along these photos of George Holland, ex-Sassafras!


How about this photo from May 1946, sent along by William Lafferty.

William writes:  “St. Louis Shipbuilding & Steel Company was very proud of its post-war towboats, and with good reason.  Merlin Banta was christened Havana Zephyr at St. Louis on 15 May 1946 by Mrs. Kenneth Baker, wife of a co-owner of Streett Towing Company of St. Louis.  Streett had it built to tow petroleum barges from Baton Rouge to Bettendorf, Iowa, where Socony Vacuum Oil Company had a large refinery.  Originally with twin Superior turbo-charged 80-MX-6 Diesels, 1980-bhp total, replaced in 1973 by twin EMD 12-567Es, 2800-bhp when it ran as H. F. Leonard for Huffman Towing Company, St. Louis.  It now has 3200-bhp EMDs since 2010.  Streett had SLSB&SCo build a couple more, but nothing that looked like this.  “C C” on it today stands for Chemical Carriers, Inc., of Plaquemine.”  Gone are the days of “streamlined” tugboats, which in 1936 led to a streamlined tugboat called David here, which is still around although with a changed appearance.

And finally, how about this from Sea Bart . . .  Loke Viking

a huge 279′ x 75′.

Sea Bart writes that he saw the actual vessel off Scotland, and in the local pilot’s station, there’s a model


made with Legos.  The the size of the model!

Many thanks to Lew, Tony A, William Lafferty, and Sea Bart for passing along these photos. 

Here are photos of my encounter with Merlin Banta back in 2014.


Credit for all here goes to Sea Bart aka Zee Bart, which means the same thing.  He writes:  “When we moored in the Lekhaven in Rotterdam in August 2021 I saw a seemingly abandoned tugboat moored called Dynami, had some list, no lights on,  etc. etc.    During the following weeks we noticed more and more attention for this tug from the Rotterdam Port Authorities (RPA) that were regularly visiting.

One day they actually pulled a chain around the wheel house, not only to prevent people going in but also to detain the vessel.  Every day one or more of the RPA patrol boats would check up on Dynami.  End of last week suddenly there was a bilge boat alongside and they spent a full day sucking stuff (old fuel, bilges, sludge) out of the vessel.    Later, one of the vessels from HEBO Maritime Services arrived to to nail boards over all the doors and close off the funnels with big bags.

And then last Wednesday another tug showed up and  Dynami was pushed away to probably a safer, more secure berth awaiting her faith. I guess to be sold via auction in the near future and then off to the scrapyard.

“Dynami, from what I can find, was built in Spain in 1976 as Sertosa Diecisette, then in 1977 became Sertosa Dieciocho, and based in Cadiz.  In 2016, she was sold to Iceland as the Togarinn, where she worked until 2020.  She was then towed from Rekyavik with the destination of Belgium to be scrapped, renamed Dynami and flying the flag of Seychelles.  For whatever reason, she never made it to the scrapyard;  instead she arrived in Bolnes port near Rotterdam. In August 2021 Panamanian interests  purchased her and a crew began a voyage to Colon PA. She never made it there either, because the next day she was back in Rotterdam, with oil leaking and her latest crew disappeared.   She  has since been laying in  Lekhaven.


The little pusher tug called Gepke III is interesting as well, build in 1957 and still going strong….although it had some changes over the years: multiple times new bridge and accommodation, I guess it has been re-powered a few times in that time frame as well.
More info & pics here.”

Note the yellow RPA vessel off the starboard side of Dynami.

Many thanks to Sea Bart, one of the flying Dutchmen I have the pleasure of knowing.


From aboard icebreaker tug Sturgeon Bay, Harold Tartell took these three fotos of Jumbo Vision southbound near Kingston about two months ago.   That ice is now gone.

According to Sea Bart, Jumbo’s motto is “We can transport anything that doesn’t fit in a container. . .  power station components,  large oil refinery reactor vessels, container cranes, small ships, large trucks, trains.”  Maybe even large pre-historic trunked mammals with tusks and hair, I wonder.   Jumbo’s link contains examples of news items from the company.

Jumbo’s competition is BigLift (ex-Mammoet . . . here’s the ancient wooly elephantine ancestor).  Click here to see a tugster “biglift” foto capture from 2007.

Click here to see great examples of cargoes in the Biglift news page.

All fotos by Harold Tartell.

Being on inland roads for now and rendered somewhat blank-in-the-head, I’m happy to finally use these relief crew fotos.  Call this a ship-tease or port-tease post.  Look them over closely and guess the location.  Answer and stories at the end of the post.  A sub and a trawler headed for sea . . . sounds vaguely like the start of a joke?

and  Zeus enters port . . . now that sounds like a mythological tale, fractured or otherwise.  So where?

SeaBart aka Uglyships sent me these.  He writes:  “The fishing boat & the submarine pic is made by my wife in  January 2006 in Den Helder, the official navy port of the Netherlands.  The fishing vessel is obvious:  every port in the Netherlands has it’s own fishing fleet, going out on Sunday evening/Monday morning coming back Friday or Saturday.”

And Zeus:  “has 2 main engines driving one propellor, bollard pull is 101 ton, and from what I heard although she has only one prop she is a very manoeuvrable ship. Finnish flag but she had a Dutch master until he retired a few years ago. On the picture she is just entering Den Helder. She is on the spotmarket and is mostly used for rig moves, when she isn’t chartered usually she is stand-by in Den Helder. I have no idea when the pic is taken because, as I said, she is coming & going.
Den Helder is besides navy-port also the most important offshore-port in the Netherlands. The big oil-companies have bundled their supply-vessels in a pool: the Southern North Sea pool (SNS-Pool), about 12-15 vessels all operating from Den Helder, which gives a tremendous amount of traffic to and from the port, almost too much. On a daily base you see 4 or 5 suppliers coming & going and a lot of shifting  going on in the port it self. If you have a berth, then it’s not for sure that you can keep it…….very annoying!”

Thanks, Bart.  Gelukkig nieuwjaar!   And I say that and a hearty thank you to all who read, in whatever language, patois, or register you say that.

While we’re on the topic of year’s-end, thanks to my referrers, the top 10 of whom for 2009 I list below for special thanks.  A glass of whatever exuberance-bubbles I certainly owe you; please collect.

10   Google Reader

9   WordPress







2   San Diego Union-Tribune, who picked up my  US Air Salvage post


And staying on stats a moment, my top 10 posts for the year are:

10   Mermaid Parade 2009

9   Ghosts

8   Figureheads

7   More Mermaid Parade 2009

6   NYC Tugboat Race 2009

5   Mardi Gras

4   NYC Tugboat Race

3   Pleasure Tugs 2

2   Weeks and Flight 1549 Re-Emerges

1   Equinox

Now I’m not saying these are my favorites or most-representative posts . . . just statistics.

For an example of one of my favorites, how about this:  magic in the mists by the Kill.

Back last September, I wrote about a NYC christening, using bowsprite’s inimitable fotos.  Since I feel another christening approach, here’s a way to do it.  These fotos come compliments of uglyships’ usually irreverent Zee Bart and feature the ceremony for his command.  Smit Kamara, although it currently works the North Sea, was built in Singapore.  As you might expect, the christening blended the traditions of the North Sea and the Southeast Asian waters.

Take one glass champagne vessel and suspend it with Dutch-colored ribbon,


move bladed hand near said-ribbon,


cue up local drummers and a dragon ready to be roused,


snip ribbon,


release these bulbous-headed skinny-tailed vessels into the ether,


and gush!  New vessel begins life halfway round the world from its work.


Sister vessel Komodo followed the same path until the point depicted above, then traveled halfway the other direction toward its territory in northeast Siberia.

So I wonder how this next impending christening will unroll….

Unrelated:  A new logbook page has beamed in from obsessed Henry and the Half Moon headed for Cathay 1609.  Check it out here.

Spring 2009  promises the start of an invasion of Dutch culture to the sixth boro.  Who knows . . . we might be renamed New Amsterdam before year’s end, since Wall Street these days needs a face lift.  But that’s another story.

When Henry Hudson arrived in the sixth boro in September 1609, he commanded a jachtOnrust, expected in the boro in September 2009, is also a jacht design.   Besides jachts, other Dutch sailing vessels include fluiten, pinasen, galjooten, botters, gundels, hoogaars, skutsjes, punters, schookers, and the list goes on.  See some fotos here.  The fotos below,  compliments of Sea Bart, first officer of Smit Kamara, show an annual skutsje sailing event in the Netherlands called Skûtsjesilen.  As a child, I imagined these boats part-fish, given the large varnished leeboards that look like fins and hawses like eyes.  See really high-resolution fotos here.


More fotos here and here; read the fotos, not the language.


Check out the really exciting racing here in this video complete with the shotgun start.   In this video, check out the crashes and fans.


So as the Dutch invasion happens this year with respect to the 400th anniversary of Hudson’s arrival in the boro, imagine skutsje racing in our fair boro had transformation to New York never happened.


Finally, March 25 is the 400th anniversary of Henry’s departure from Amsterdam, headed here by way of northern Norway, Sable Island, and Virginia.

Again, all fotos here compliments of the irreverent Sea bart.

Question:  Can anyone recall ever seeing a Smit tug in or around the sixth boro?  I’ve known the name for a long time in part because of a cousin who worked for them, although as an accountant.  Smit Kamara is Sea Bart’s vessel, that’s Bart of the uglyships site, a really subjective concept he has lots of fun with.  Let’s do a walk-around of Kamara while going off on some tangents.


Smit Kamara‘s habitat is the North Sea.  See this remarkable video of storm travel on a North Sea Smit tug.  The foto below shows the “offshore access system,” designed to get people from ship to unmanned oil platforms.


Smit’s history doesn’t go back near so far as Henry Hudson, but it’s quite old nevertheless.  1842 and started by a man named Fop.


Vitals on Smit Kamara:  loa 230′ x 52′ x 22′ and 2460 Kw x 2, i.e., just shy of 6600 hp, built in Singapore.  It was named here three years ago.   Technically, Smit Kamara is an AHTS, Anchor Handling Tug & Supplyship.  She has a winch.  Her sister ships are Smit Komodo and the Smit Nicobar, working in Egypt and Sakhalin, respectively.

As a gesture of ownership, someone saw fit equip the flagstaff with an aftermarket  bowsprite, er, figurehead . . . er . . . figureduckie . . . enlarged in the circle.


So, to return to my question:  has anyone spotted a Smit tug anywhere recently in a port along the western Atlantic?  Does the Donjon-Smit collaboration ever bring Smit vessels this side of the Atlantic?

All fotos compliments of Sea Bart aka Zee Bart.

Take his uglyship poll here.

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March 2023