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One satisfying thing to me about these retro posts is noticing how much the local fleet has changed.  All these photos I took in November 2008.  Coral Queen was scrapped at least eight or nine years ago.  Maersk Donegal has had two name changes since 2008, now know as Santa Priscila, and no longer calls in the sixth boro.

SPT Guardian, still under the same name, is currently operating out of Lome, Togo.  Note the NJ State Police boat alongside.  I don’t know if they are still using that boat.

ITB Groton is gone as well.

The huge K-Sea fleet in the boro has dispersed.  Solomon Sea is now Emily Ann,

Falcon, I believe, is still Falcon but wears Vane livery,

Davis Sea still has the same name but Kirby colors and operates in the Gulf,

and Aegean Sea carries the same name but works for Burnham Associates in my old stomping grounds north of Boston.  NYK Diana has moved to the Pacific to the US West Coast.

This Rosemary McAllister has been replaced by another Rosemary McAllister, and has spent only part of one day in the sixth boro.

Stapleton Service takes the prize for the greatest number of name changes, three since 2008.  She’s now Michael Miller.

Buchanan 15 has become Dory, although I’ve not seen her in a while.

Coral Queen‘s smaller fleet mate was John B. Caddell, which became a hurricane Sandy victim:  grounded, sheriff auctioned, and scrapped.

I made a jaunt upriver aboard the only and only Half Moon–now sold abroad– in November 2008, and saw

Champion Polar but she’s now

–ice bow and all- dead and likely scrapped,  as well as

a more intact Bannerman’s Castle.

All photos by Will Van Dorp in November 2008.



Stapleton Service (ex-New Haven, 1966) assists at dawn. She was in the distance in the “Crazy Patterns” post.


Labrador Sea (ex-Sea Bull built 2002) passing Tauranga Star, possibly offloading bananas from Ecuador,


Robert IV (1971) southbound on Arthur Kill past the wheels of the Howland Hook cranes.


Janice Ann Reinauer (1966) pushes oil eastbound as the setting sun illuminates Bayonne cranes,


And Harry McNeal (1965) pushing  a construction barge eastbound.


Photos, WVD. .

Snippets of song lyrics emerge from the unconscious sometimes to “explain” what’s happening.  Like yesterday before going to work.  Calm waters . . .


as a light barge and escorts approach and


I conclude it’s a Dann and a Hornbeck and


Ripples disturb the smooth liquid


and then patterns get more erratic and I


guess the morning calm has these distortions oscillating outward for a spell,


the same way things evolve at work or loves or deals or even in dreams.  And the words of Bob Dylan “It’s all over now, baby blue” bubble to the surface after decades of immersion.

Rumor:  Alice sat at a dock in Brooklyn this morning as if she’d never been away around the world . . . any confirmation of that sighting?

Disclosure: I’ve never claimed to be in the tug industry although I’ve often considered trading in my profession to start a new life as a deckhand and go up the chain. Too bad life is so short or I’d do it. There is a precedent: in 1986, I resigned from a college teaching position to learn to drive semi, and I ended up a few weeks later hired to teach student drivers the intricacies of double clutching and backing. Anyhow, I’m dredging up this ancient history to make a point: namely, tugs excite me. They have power and style. Politicians and CEOs, who are reputed to have a power and style, do not excite me in the same way. Check out Hornbeck‘s incomparable Patriot Service below, one of my favorite recent fotos.



Or in their fleet check out Gulf Service



or Stapleton Service escorting Calusa Coast . . .



or Sea Service.



Style and power! Nowhere could those qualities better be witnessed. To you all in the industry, my hat’s off. That’s why I fotograf and blog. Had I been born on Staten Island rather than farm country, I might be at the helm. Other fleets soon.

Photos, Will Van Dorp.

I’m recommending a book: Oil on the Brain. Lisa Margonelli, the author and someone ‘ve never met, has a piece in 5/13 online edition of the NYTimes, linked here and available only if you’re subscribed to the Times. Here’s a blogpost about Oil . . ..



Here Stapleton Service and barge named Energy 2201 transfers fuel in Newark. From Margonelli, a statistic: how much liability insurance is carried on a fuel barge?



Some fuel is transferred directly from tanker to barge for coastal or river transport. Stena Performance featured in this earlier post.



Here’s also a direct transfer from tanker Alpha Express to fuel barge. Here and here are some closeups of Alpha Express offloading in Boston.

The insurance statistic is about $1 billion. More from Margonelli: rank the following means of oil transport according to spillage from most to least (tug/barge, pipeline, truck) The most spillage . . . truck, and the least spillage . . . tug/barge. No spillage is acceptable, but hats off to the tugsters.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Sometimes the most heavily trafficked waterways are the least known to landfolk. Consider Newtown Creek in 2007. Tis true also of this waterway between New York and New Jersey, Kill Van Kull aka KVK. When I first moved here a half decade ago, I thought to kayak here, a plan I quickly discarded after seeing how heavily it’s trafficked. Until I found this article on Staten Island name origins, I wondered who the Van Kull is; check out “Arthur Kill” as well as “Het Kill van het Cull.” As a Dutch speaker and linguist, I find this Anglicization explanation finally satisfactory.

The tug below enters the west end of KVK about a mile on the Bayonne side of the Goethals Bridge; astern is visible the waterfront of Elizabeth, NJ. Just to the right of of the twin steeples of St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the shadowy tower of the Union County Courthouse; off the bow is the Singer plant that I blogged about a few days ago.
If Stapleton Service were to turn to port, it would enter Newark Bay, the busiest portion of the port of greater New York.


Of course, Newark Bay, which handles all this traffic, can only do so because of its shoreside transportation links–rail and road–as well as major dredging, which doesn’t even keep up with the increasing vessel size, or more accurately, depth. Check this link (scroll all the way through) for a Maersk container ship with three times the cargo capacity of the Maersk vessel above, three times, 300%!!

Notice this shovel barge is “spudded” in place; the spud is the pillar or foot just in front of the bucket of the crane. But dredging means mixing what has lain inert in the mud with estuary flow, and what has lain in the mud might be nasty.


Given the traffic, KVK is home base for at least 100 tugs, according to an August 2005 article by Wendell Jamieson in the Times. Moran is one of the bigger fleets.


Here a fearless helmsman “stays the course” and checks room to starboard while a huge bulk carrier, flanked by a Moran tug, passes to port.

The east end of KVK is marked by Robbins Reef Light, shown below.


So ends the KVK at its east end, but it’s all sixth borough, and the sixth borough . . . well, it connects to all the watery parts of the globe.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

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