Following on the success of its 90 x 35-ft. series of towboats, Kirby Marine has taken delivery of the first in a new series of 76 x 35-ft. boats. Building at the Raymond and Associates LLC shipyard in Bayou LaBatr, Ala., the Capt. Bill English, is the first of four currently under construction with the possibility of eight more to follow.
Although shorter than the earlier series, these boats retain the robust beam of their cousins. Mark Davis, Kirby’s representative at the shipyard explained that it is important to the firm to retain crews. “The extra beam lets us make the boats a little nicer and then we add internet access
and flat screen TV with surround sound for the crew,” he said.
In the engine room the new towboats continue the use of Cummins engines. These are a pair of Cummins KTA38-M1 engines rated for 900 hp at 1800 rpm.
Designed jointly by LaForce and Kirby the new boats have the distinctive sloped and multi facetted wheelhouse windows that provide great visibility. The interiors show influences from modern ship docking tugs with split consoles allowing visibility through ceiling to deck windows. At the same time traditional ‘sticks’ for both flanking and steering rudders. Although the steering is electrically controlled, Davis explained, “We can adjust the tension on the sticks to replicate the pressure that the captains are use to on the older boats.”
Kirby operates more than 900 active inland tank barges, 241 active towing vessels and five fleets on the U.S. inland waterway network.With these boats, Kirby is setting a standard of excellence for both crews and clients for the delivery of petroleum products on America’s inland waterways.