An expert in ocean and coastal towing, Smith Maritime, needed dependable diesel power when its 90 ft Elsbeth III was in need of repowering prior to towing the 520 ft USS Hoyt S. Vandenberg to the Florida Keys. The Vandenberg was sunk six miles offshore, becoming Florida's largest artificial reef. The company turned to Laborde Products, who had previously supplied Smith Maritime with Mitsubishi heavy-duty marine propulsion engines and ordered three new 1,180 hp Mitsubishi S12R-Y1MPTA engines.
"We're 100% satisfied with these engines," said Capt. Latham Smith, Smith Maritime founder. "They're quieter and very responsive. The engine room is even cooler now."
The vessel's maiden voyage with the new engines began in Jacksonville, Florida continued to Norfolk, Virginia and ended in Key West, Florida. The Elsbeth III traveled over 1,498 nautical miles. Equipped with a Mitsubishi S16-MPTA as center main engine supplied by Laborde, another Smith Maritime deep sea tug, Elsbeth II, served as the lead vessel for the sinking of the Vandenberg.
"We've worked with Laborde in the past when powering other vessels, such as the Elsbeth II, and they've always been first-class people," said Smith. "They respond quickly to parts orders and our calls for information, while providing great support for their products. If a problem ever arises, they go all out to correct it."
Elsbeth III continued 3,827 nautical miles from Key West to Ensenada, Mexico to pick up a 300' construction barge and will route back through the Panama Canal and travel 4,598 nautical miles to Oran, Algeria. By the time the tug returns to homeport in Green Cove Springs, Florida, she will have covered over 17,000 nautical miles with very few stops and three, new reliable Mitsubishi engines.
Smith Maritime's vessels operate primarily between the US, Caribbean and South America. Throughout its 38 years, it has towed craft of every description all over the world. The company designed its four tugs, Elsbeth, Elsbeth II, Elsbeth III and Rhea, with maximum horsepower packaged in a stable, shallow draft hull.