In mid-October of 2013 Capt. Mark Duthu of Montgeut, Louisiana was proudly showing his family around his new command. The 72 by 30-foot pushboat MV Gunner was about to leave the New Generation Marine Shipbuilding on the Intracoastal Waterway near Houma, Louisiana. With the Louisiana Marine Operators logo proudly displayed on her stack she would join the company’s diverse feel of workboats, tug and utility vessels.
The yard, started last year by Joe Gregory, is well laid out with a tidy organization that is reflected in the layout and finishing of the new pushboat that was getting some final touchups before heading out to work. In the spacious engine room of the boat, designed by Parfait Design of Mobile, Alabama, one of the yard’s workers was doing some last minute touch ups of the immaculate white paint. Bright aluminum diamond pattern deck plates set-off the pair of grid-cooled Cummins KTA38-M main engines. Recognized as the industry standard for towboats of this size, the engines each deliver 1,000 HP at 1,800 RPM to Kahlenberge 72x58-inch propellers on seven-inch shafts through Twin Disc 5321 gears with ratios of 6.394:1.
One reason for the spacious engine room was the manner in which the wheelhouse is extended aft of the engine room fiddly to cover the aft deck and steering gear while providing a shelter in which to locate the two Cummins-powered 85 kW generator sets. This provides a spacious storage space as well. Steering gear for the two steering rudders and four flanking rudders is accessed through removable deck grids.
Forward of the fiddly and an accommodation area, is a large galley and mess. With Duthu’s wife Shantelle and children visiting, it appeared with the oak finish, granite counter tops, and stainless appliances, to be a well-equipped suburban kitchen. While Dulthu and one of his crew admired the galley, Shantelle gathered her children around the dining room (mess room) table and on the leather couch opposite the huge wall mounted flat screen TV. Spending long days on a towboat can be trying but no effort has been spared in making the accommodations as comfortable as any modern home.
Similarly an expansive layout and quality wood finishing make the wheelhouse a bright and roomy place to spend the watch while providing excellent visibility fore and aft. A U-shaped console surrounds the captain’s chair with controls for a full array of navigational and ship management equipment. These include two Furuno Navnet radars with chart plotter, an AIS display, depth sounder, three ICOM VHF radios, Dehart swing meter, a fuel transfer system as well as an array of machinery, fire and general alarms. A captain incapacitated alarm, provided by Unlimited Control and Supply is also included.
Captain Duthu started his maritime career by following his grandfather and father onto Louisiana shrimpers but 20 years ago he opted for the steady employment of the towboats. He worked his way up from deckhand, to tanker man, pilot, relief captain and captain. Command of this fine new vessel is clearly a reward for his choices and his diligence. The 72x30x10-foot design is gaining attention from other owners as well with one launching for Duvall Towing at the end of the year and two more to follow for an undisclosed interest.
Photos by Haig-Brown and Joe Gregory courtesy of Cummins Marine and New Generation Shipbuilding