ITBing with both the tugs Davis Sea and Houma. When K-Sea builds new, the company builds new barges. The tugboats that are used with them are majestic, storied in their own right, but with previous lives. It's the barge and its contents that loom large in the company's outlook, particularly with a deadline for new regulations just seven years off. One thing that an adapted tugboat can do better than most purpose-built ATB tugs is most of the things it did before getting pinned. So, depending on conditions at a particular moment, a tug can participate in various other lines of work besides work in the notch. Harbor services being a traditional line for K-Sea tugs -- bunkering mostly, though K-Sea boats have been spotted at other general assignments -- it became only natural for the company to ask how many and which of an ATB's benefits might accrue to their use scaleddown, in local service. In a couple minutes, controlled from the wheelhouse, tug Davis Sea is out of DBL 27's notch -- to be replaced just as swiftly by tug Houma. (Photo: Don Sutherland.) Old Friends Renewed Tugboats -- now those are vessels people speak of with fondness or more. The Houma, the better-known of the two KSea pocket pinboats on the waters of New York, is one of a series of boats regarded with admiration, Jakobson-built and produced in more than one size. They're characterized by tall, steeple-like houses, squared in opposition to almost the whole history of model-bow tugs, built with the principle in mind that sometimes extra height-of-eye is handy. The Davis Sea was acquired when KSea adopted its Norfolk facility, which has put the company into such additional lines of business as wastewater disposal. The Davis Sea was one of seven tugs of various sizes that came with that acquisition, and like the larger Norwegian Sea has received a new upper wheelhouse, and JAK couplers near the bows. The Davis Sea somehow gives a visual impression of a small tug, but like a lady's shoe is quite spacious on the inside. The galley is roomy and comfortable, and the wheelhouse is varnished throughout. She's got 2,000 horsepower, which gets DBL 27's product where it's going in the metro region. She's been living her new life since last summer, when she came pinned and raised out of Feeney's shipyard at Kingston. Although both tugs started-out as unrelated vessels, they demonstrated a degree of interchangeability with DBL 27 on the day before the barge christening. Underway with the Davis Sea and DBL 27, just a ways past Hell Gate, Capt. Artie Wiegand was radioed an invitation to return to the yard at Mariner's Harbor, an opportunity for planned maintenance having arrived early. Soon it was the Houma coming up under the Amtrak bridge, swapping places with the Davis Sea. "The Houma and Davis will fit in all eight of the 28 series barges," says Capt. Tom Sullivan, K-Sea's Vice-President of Operations. "All of the big tugs -- Adriatic Sea, Norwegian Sea, Java Sea, Beaufort Sea, Tasman Sea, Volunteer, Rebel, Irish Sea fit in all of the big barges. Ditto now with the smaller tugs and barges." The Big and Small of it The practical study in the pocket ITB began exactly a year ago, the Houma and DBL 28 arriving at New York at the end of March ' 06. It is reported by crews and management to be practically all pluses. The switch just north of Hell Gate on March 29 ' 07 was an example -- the time and manpower it took to make-up anew was reduced to the Davis Sea slips out, the Bollinger-built DBL 27, the second of eight 28,000-BBL "pocket ITB" barges odered by K-Sea, after christening on March 30. Who'd have guessed she was out making money the day before? (Photo: Don Sutherland) April, 2007 · MarineNews · 21
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