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Artists's rendering of new headquarters

July 16, 2005

Great Lakes Towing to break ground for new headquarters and shipyard

On July 20, the Great Lakes Towing Company will mark its 106th anniversary with a groundbreaking ceremony. It is starting construct of a new $3,500,000 headquarters building and state-of-the-art shipyard complex on its present 6-acre deep waterfront property in the Old River Channel of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio.

The name Great Lakes Towing may be synonymous with tugboats on the Great Lakes. But what is not so widely realized is that the Great Lakes Group, composed of the Great Lakes Towing Company and its affiliates, is a full service marine transportation company with tugboats also operating on the East, Gulf, and West Coasts of the United States, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and internationally. Some of its tugboats are chartered to other major tugboat companies.

The new facilities will incorporate fabrication, welding and diesel shops. The 40 ft-high fabrication building will be equipped with a 10-ton overhead crane that will travel the entire 150 ft length of the building, and its 30 ft high by 40 ft hanger door will permit indoor barge and tug construction and repairs.

New yard equipment includes a specially designed service truck for off-site vessel repairs. It is outfitted as a "mini-shipyard" complete with welding equipment, compressed air, generator, and a crane,

With completion of the office and fabrication buildings, and the construction of new dock bulkheading, including an excavated boat slip in the spring of 2006, follow-on plans call for the installation of a 500-ton travel lift to complement the company's dry dock and to permit simultaneous repair of multiple boats and barges, expanding its vessel repair and marina service capabilities.

"We are committed to the Great Lakes region and to Cleveland, our home," says Ronald C. Rasmus, president of the Towing Company.

The expansion is expected to create economic growth and 25 new jobs in the first three years of operation with a potential for more. The new facilities are within a few city blocks of a local vocational high school. Student welders and mechanics will have an opportunity to obtain paid shipyard internships while attending school and during their summer recess, with further opportunity for career jobs in the shipyard and on board tugs. The new facilities include a classroom for onsite training.

The new facility will also house the company's recently purchased, Dock Master barge fabrication company, which it relocated to Cleveland.

Dock Master's primary product is a truckable-sized barge, generally used for marine construction projects and marina platforms. These steel units are typically 40 ft long by 10 ft wide and 4 ft high. They weigh about 20,000 pounds each. Two units can be loaded onto one flatbed truck and can be delivered almost anywhere. Once the units reach their destination, they are placed in the water and pinned together to form a platform large enough to support whatever load is required.

The company's existing 90 ft x 50 ft floating dry dock with a 300-gross ton lift capacity is used to service its "G" tugs and to provide commercial shipyard services. The yard specializing in all types of marine repair services for tugboats, supply boats, ferries, barges, excursion vessels, large yachts, research vessels, and even topside repairs for large domestic and foreign vessels in Cleveland and in other ports.

The company's tug fleet serves more than 40 U.S. ports in all eight Great Lakes states and the Seaway and is the largest U.S.-flag tug company on the Lakes. Its 50 tugs, all red-cabined, green-hulled and bearing the squared-off white "G" on their stacks, are early all are named for U.S. states.

The "G" tugs, as they are called by Great Lakes mariners, are of low-profile design to speed bridge clearance and minimize delays. Their 12 ft to 13 ft draft and faired hulls, some with Kort nozzles, range in length from 81 ft to 85 ft with up to 2,250 horsepower (diesel) and up to 57,000 pounds of bollard pull. Rotated among Lake ports, tugs are periodically returned to the Cleveland shipyard for drydocking and maintenance. Older tugs have been refurbished, rebuilt, and repowered to maintain the quality service.

Towing Company services include local harbor towing, docking and undocking, interport towing of vessels and barges, icebreaking, rescue, and assistance to grounded or damaged ships. Its tugboats have towed a myriad of barges and marine structures and can provide barging services and through-cargo movements, even when origin or destination is other than a Lakes port, such as a movement of heavy-lift cargo from Pennsylvania through the Mississippi River system to the Louisiana Gulf, or the movement of the world's largest telescope mirror via the Seaway to Erie, Pennsylvania. Most recently, the Towing Company was contracted to move the West 3rd Street Bridge span down the Cuyahoga River into the Old River Channel in Cleveland, where construction of a new span is underway. The Towing Company will reposition the new span when completed in 2006.

"Our record of timely performance and safety is unmatched in the industry," notes Rasmus.

One member of the Great Lakes Group is Tugz International L.L.C. In addition to owning several ocean-towing vessels ranging from 55,000 to 162,000 pounds of bollard pull, Tugz International designed and constructed a fleet of state-of-the-art multipurpose, reverse tractor tugs.

These reverse tractor tugs are high-tech Z-drive vessels that have 4,000 horsepower with a bollard pull in excess of 110,000 pounds. Design speed is 14 knots, and hulls are ice-strengthened. Z-drive units both propel and steer the tugs, enabling them to push or pull in any direction. A Z-drive tug can turn on its own axis, stop within its own length when running at full speed, and hold position and maneuver into dock in adverse conditions. These Z-class tugs can accommodate a wide range of towing services, including ship handling, salvage, firefighting, oil recovery, tanker, escort, and ocean and coastal towing. With the new facility being built in Cleveland, it will soon be possible to construct these state-of-the-art tugs and other tugs specifically designed and adapted for Great Lakes' service "in-house".

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