A few weeks back, while sitting in class at Crawford’s Nautical School, there was a buzz about a new tug being launched a couple doors down at Western Towboat. Several of the students and instructors walked over to watch the action.
The tug was built by Western Towboat using their own designs. The launch was not your traditional splash style launch. Instead, the tug was cradled by two huge wheeled dollies connected to two Kenworth tractors with three drive axles each. For added traction, the tractors had an extra 24,000 pounds of weight on their flat beds. A dry dock from Foss Shipyards, directly across the channel, was pushed up to shore and huge ramps installed. The trucks maneuvered the dollies in tandem, pushing, steering a braking to manipulate the dollies in the desired direction. As the weight of the tug sank the dry dock, the operation paused to pump out the dock and float it higher. Once the tug was fully on the dock, I went back to class as it was going to take some time to sink the dock and float the tug out. All in all, quite the operation.
The tug makes its first Alaksa freight run in early August.