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Old 01-24-2010, 05:26 AM   #1
Sailor of Fortune's Avatar
City: Saint Augustine, Fl.
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,460
Rescue tow

I havn't posted in a while but some may find this interesting. As you may know I am the captain of the tug Atlantic Salvor. My last posting described the job we were doing in Gibraltar last summer and fall. In Late November, we crossed the atlantic again, arriving in NY on Dec 21.
My return to the tug on Jan 13* was anti climactic, doing what we call the "Harbor
shuffle" ( moving construction barges around) for a few days.
The office then gave us a tow to Albany- not great but at least away from the office.
On monday night while at the dock in albany the office called and wanted our best speed ETA to a position 95 Nm south of Nantucket to assist a disabled tanker.
The office had negotiations with the ships insurers in Cypress and we were given the job.
In the week that I had been back on the tug,we have given away 30,00 gallons of fuel to other company tugs and dredges ,leaving us with only 93,00 gallons aboard. This sounds like a lot of fuel until you realize we hold 242,000 gallons. I didn't know where the ship would be towed to or how long we would be at sea, so I told the office we would need at least 40,000 gallons fuel.
We got underway from Pot Albany Ventures dock at o700 on tuesday Jan 19th (my birthday!).* An 11 hour transit down the Hudson river, got us to the fuel dock at 2030- no line/waiting thank god.
We left at 0200 on the 20 Jan with 50,00 added to our fuel.
Emails between the office/coast guard/owners etc gave us the situation. The casualty was the M/T " Tavrichesky Bridge" a fully loaded oil tanker 600' long by 90' beam, which had suffered a broken crankshaft.
Our ETA was 0200 on thursday morning with forecasted Wx of NW winds 25-30 kts
and seas 5-6'.
When we arrived at the position (95 nm south of Nantucket) we had 30 kts of NW wind and 6-8' seas . I would wait intil first light until rigging the tow.
This ship was built in 2006 (Russian) and had the emergency tow attachment Pt (ETA) which would save us from sending our chain surge line up* to add weight and chafe protection through her centerline chock.
Our aft deck was completely awash and my deckhands had to be back there until our messenger line was off the deck.
My job was to keep the tug close enough to the bow of the ship without contact until all our gear was aboard and connected. The ship wasn't moving much, but the tug was pitching and rolling.
A graduated messenger line* consisting of 3/4 inch nylon to 2" polypro to 7"{ poly pro connected to an 85 ton towing shackle into 2 3/4 " wire tow line.
Once the softline was off the deck, I could get the guys off the deck and move the tug away from the ship a little. The ship crew put the messenger and wire to a bow mooring winch and reeled it up to make the connection to their chain.
It took 45 min of hard work by the ship crew to make the connection .
The ships captain asked what we thought our tow speed would be. I told him I thought around 6.5-7.5 kts.
I had sorely mis judged the speed against the wx- we made around 5.5 in increasing winds-30-35 kts NW seas of 8-10. The good news was the wind was supposed to die out later in the day to 10 kts variable befre going to a NE gale on Friday.
We ahd made the tow and were underway with the ship at 0740 on thurs . By 2 in the afternnon the wind/seas had subsided and our tow speed was up to 7.3 kts (7200 hp/20' draft Tug)
We were to tow the ship to NY.
Arrival at the Ambrose pilot station was 1930 on fri with a Moran tug to assist us up the Ambrose channel.* The wx at this time was NE 15-20 with a swaell large enough
to prevent the assist tug from laying alongside the ship.
We got the assist tug "Cape Cod" to put a headline up through the stern chock on
ship and he could back and help us . Way to easy! . The cape cods line parted* and the ship decided it wasn't going into NY without a fight! She veered of to Stbd continuosly and we called for another assist tug. Once we got the ship up the chnnl far enough to lose the swell, we put one tug on each side of the bow of the TB.
All the way up the channel, the stbd bow boat worked ahead half sppeed and the port bow tug backed to counter the ships veering to stbd.
Needless to say the channel transit was the "balls in the throat" variety. We got the ship to Bayridge anchorage at 0030 on Saturday morning and we disconnected our tow gear by 0140.
I don't know who was more relieved at the end of the job- the pilot,the assist boat crews or us!

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Old 01-24-2010, 09:24 AM   #2
Codger2's Avatar
City: San Diego
Country: US
Vessel Name: "Sandpiper"
Vessel Model: 2006 42' Ocean Alexander Sedan
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 5,197
RE: Rescue tow

Jack's tow is probably the prime reason I frequent this site. I love reading stories like this!

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Old 01-24-2010, 11:01 PM   #3
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RE: Rescue tow

What a story! Do you have any pics of what was going on?
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Old 01-25-2010, 04:14 AM   #4
City: Carefree, Arizona
Country: usa
Vessel Name: sunchaser V
Vessel Model: DeFever 48
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 5,359
RE: Rescue tow

Jack* thanks for sharing your life and work. You mentioned a Russian ship and a broken crank. Was the engine Russian too? Any thoughts on Russian maintenance and equipment? I'd guess the world's insurers have similar questions.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:33 PM   #5
Sailor of Fortune's Avatar
City: Saint Augustine, Fl.
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,460
RE: Rescue tow

This ship was Russian built ( St Petersburg shipyard) in 2006. She is in class-100A1 lloyds
Double hull. Registered in Monrovia and had a Russian Crew. In this day and age these vessels are extremely regulated. The P and I clubs (insurance) require maint and inspections that
are thorough. In my opinion , lack of maint on such a new ship was not the cause of this traumatic engine failure.
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