Great Lakes Towing Celebrates 100th Anniversary in Detroit

Wednesday, August 18, 1999
The Great Lakes Towing Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary providing tugboat services in the port of Detroit. The company's founding shareholders include many of the nation's great industrialists, including John D. Rockefeller and James R. Sinclair. In continuous business for 100 years, it has been a significant marine operations link in one of the major economic lifelines of North America. The company owns and operates more than 50 tugboats. In fact, it is the largest U.S-flag tugboat company engaged in towing on the Great Lakes. Four tugboats - Wyoming, Wisconsin, Vermont and Pennsylvania - are assigned to harbor towing services in Detroit, with additional tugs coming from Toledo available to meet surges and emergency needs. The specially designed tugs are low profile to speed bridge clearance and minimize delays. Ranging in size from 81 to 85 ft. long, the boats have a 12-13 ft. draft, faired hulls and kort nozzles, and can provide up to 55,000 lbs. of bollard pull. The fleet of tugs is all U.S. registered and meets the highest industry standards of AWO's Responsible Carrier Program (RCP), an independently audited code of practice ensuring safe, efficient operations. "This translates into timely service and a substantial savings to a vessel operator's bottom line," said Ronald Rasmus, president. In commending the company for its leadership and achievement in the RCP, the USCG's Ninth District advised the company it was affording company tugboatss in Detroit, and in all other Great Lakes' ports, the same privileges as vessels participating in the District's Cooperative Towing Vessel Examination Program, without further examination. Recently, an affiliate, Puerto Rico Towing and Barge, was awarded a Navy contract to provide harbor-towing services for U.S. Navy vessels at the U.S. Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. The tugs chosen were ABS-classed tugs New Mexico and Michigan, now renamed Punta Lima and Punta Tuna. The contract was awarded based upon "best value," and the tugs were chosen over the new Z-class tractor tugs in recognition of the superior capability of this class of Great Lakes harbor tug to perform harbor assist duties. On its 100th anniversary, the Great Lakes Towing Company intends to expand its Cleveland-based shipyard and to construct a new prototype tractor tug to be purpose-built for Great Lakes service, reflecting its commitment to its Great Lakes customers for the next 100 years. It is also planning a tug/barge venture on the Great Lakes next year, utilizing one of its ocean-going tugboats.

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