Tug sale takes Marcon past million horsepower milestone

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Jimmy Smith was delivered by Equitable Shipyards in 1976 as the Gulf Commander

DECEMBER 29, 2016 — Shipbroker Marcon International, Inc., Coupeville, WA, has passed a notable milestone. Over the last 35 years it has brokered 322 tugs for sales or charter, totaling 1,005,657 HP.

Taking Marcon past the million horsepower mark was the sale of the 7,200 HP tug Jimmy Smith (ex-Gulf Commander) to private U.S. West Coast buyers — and the second sale of the vessel brokered by Marcon.

The 150.0′ x 40.1′ x 22.0′ depth / 20.2′ loaded draft, twin screw tug was built in 1976 by Equitable Shipyards, Inc. of Madisonville, LA, as the Gulf Commander. She was one of two sister, offshore anchor-handling tugs built for Gulf Mississippi Marine, which later became Gulf Fleet Marine of Houston, Texas in 1978 and Zapata Gulf Marine Service in 1985. Tidewater, Inc. acquired the tug in its 1992 acquisition of Zapata Gulf.

In 2002, Marcon brokered the sale of the Gulf Commander from Tidewater to Honolulu-based Smith Maritime / Hawaiian Inter-island Towing and tug was renamed Jimmy Smith\ after the company’s founder. After being mobilized from the Gulf Coast and completing an extensive shipyard maintenance and repair period, the tug supported Smith Maritime’s inter-island petroleum trade and salvage operations.

In 2004, “Jimmy Smith” sailed from Honolulu and successfully towed in the 4,300 TEU, fully laden containership Hanjin Pretoria, dead in the water about 1,000 miles north of Hawaii after a main engine failure.

K-Sea Transportation of New Jersey inherited the Jimmy Smith in 2007 when it acquired Smith Maritime. Four years later Kirby Corporation completed its acquisition of K-Sea and its fleet of 58 tank barges and 63 tugs including the Jimmy Smith.

The raised forecastle bow tug is powered by twin EMD 20-645E7A diesels with Reintjes WAV 4800 5:1 gears and 144″ x 144″ 4-blade fixed pitch props on 12″ shafts in kort nozzles, plus is fitted with a 535 HP bow thruster to enhance maneuverability. She has a bollard of 103 short tons and free running speed of abt. 11 – 13 kn on 220 – 330 gph. Her 221,400 gal fuel capacity gives the tug a range of abt. 11,070 nm at 11 kn. Towing gear consists of an Intercon DD 250 double drum side-by-side tow winch with a wire capacity of abt. 4,000′ and 2,000′ of 2″ wire, stern roller and Intercon tow pins.

Jimmy Smith was laid up in fresh water at the time of this latest sale.

Marcon notes that with the present average age of the U.S. flag sea-going tug fleet is 34 years (built 1982), the sale of the forty year tug is a good example of “out with the old, in with the new” and fleet renewal in the towing industry.


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