Great Lakes - Articulated Tug Barges - Ships Nostalgia

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Great Lakes - Articulated Tug Barges

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Old 30th March 2019, 04:59
kewl dude's Avatar
kewl dude kewl dude is offline  
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Organisation: Other Merchant Fleets
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Great Lakes - Articulated Tug Barges

I have been trying to research ATB's especially the crew sizes with little luck. I did find a 2014 MARAD report that said there were 86 Jones Act ATB's - American Owned, American Built, With American Crews - operating on the US coastal trades. The majority oil tankers between 165,000 - 330,000 BBLS capacity. That MARAD - US Maritime Administration - report listed ATB crews of 6 to 12. Somewhere I read there are seven ATB's on the Great Lakes?

First let me mention SS Joseph H. Thompson built during WW II as a US Navy operated 10,000 HP Steam Turbine C4 Fast Troop Transport named Marine Robin. Post war National Steel-Hanna Line bought her out of the James River Reserve Fleet and had her converted in Maryland utilizing a new built mid body and bow 1952; pasted on Marine Robin stern.

I sailed SS Joseph H. Thompson 4-29-61 - 6-24-61 Ordinary Seaman, 4-2-62 - 12-5-62 Fireman/watertender, 4-15-63 - 12-6-63 Fireman/watertender, 3-24-66 - 9-10-66 Third Assistant Engineer. Understand these are discharge dates. Sea service does not begin until we are ready to go.

Add three weeks for spring fit-out and three weeks for lay-up. In that era the engine room staff worked eight hour days Monday-Friday with weekends off draining every bit of water out of the vessel. With the deck crowd gone the galley reduced staff but stay to the end to feed themselves and the engine gang.

The steam plants were piped to facilitate it, by using plumbing tees with a plug, where usually you would use an elbow. This involved completely removing all boiler handhold plates to gain access to the tubes and blow them clear with compressed air. Places that we could not drain like toilet bowls were filled with automotive antifreeze. Alcohol was hand pumped from drums into fuel tank steam heating coils.

Master and three watch-standing mates 4
OS or AB Deck Watchmen 3
AB Watchmen 3
AB Wheelsmen 3
OS or AB Deck Hands 3
AB Bosun 1 17

Chief Engineer and Assistants 5
Firemen/Watertenders 3
Oilers 3
Wipers 3 16

Chief Steward 1
Chief Cook 1
Assistant Cooks 2
Night Cook/Baker 1
Messmen 2 07 = 40 total crew.

Note: the vessel needed to have 8 Able Bodied Seamen not counting the Bosun.
They could be Deck Hands or Deck Watchmen. The Deck Watch sounds the ballast tanks daily when they are supposed to be empty and posted the results in the ER on a chalk board. When ballast was being discharged the Deck Watch would sound and post the results in the ER.

The Deck Watch prepares the deck for mooring and cleans up after leaving. That included stretching out the 300 feet long heaving lines and coiling them into two piles so mates could pick up one pile and throw the other pile. Warming up the mooring winches and running the mooring wires to the ship side sheaves on the proper side. Otherwise the Deck Watchmen worked on deck for the Bosun.

The Watchmen stand at the bow in confined waters like rivers and harbors otherwise they work on deck for the Bosun. The Wheelsmen steer the ship.

ATB guess

Watch-standing mates 3

It could be 2 mates but working six and six gets old quick.
One of the 3 could be the Master?
Three or fewer on deck, three or fewer in the ER, 3 or fewer in the galley?
Manning is for a tug not a ship. by Brady Slater on Mar 20, 2018


Erie Trader/Clyde S. VanEnkevort Captain Mark Mather is quoted as texting "We are 14 strong!" Mather texted of his crew size.

The tug-barge is owned by VanEnkevort Tug & Barge Inc., which is headquartered in Escanaba, Mich.


Lots more including five pictures. Joseph H Thompson Junior was built with steel removed from the stern during the conversion.

Joseph H Thompson Upbound Soo Locks Summer 1982-E.jpg (73.3 KB)
Joseph-H-Thompson-circa 1965-ex-Marine-Robin.jpg (40.8 KB)
Marine-Robin-E.jpg (157.4 KB) (88.8 KB) (61.5 KB)

Greg Hayden
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Old 11th May 2019, 19:57
harry t. harry t. is online now
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Organisation: Merchant Navy
Department: Deck
Active: 1953 - 1987
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 450
Originally Posted by kewl dude View Post
I have been trying to research ATB's especially the crew sizes with little luck.

I joined a new build “pusher tug”, for Central Gulf’s account, Class society: American Bureau of Shipping, in Singapore in 1976. She had 2X BHP2100 MWM diesels registering 50 tons bollard pull. She is still going strong, 43 years later, under the Portuguese flag. She was built to ‘push’ the semi-submersible Flash Barge1V, carrying 29 barges for the Lash ships, operating out east.
Only in rivers or sheltered waters could we push the lady, but invariably an ‘on the hip’ position was preferable after an ocean passage, as this took much less time after disconnecting and having to hang off the chain bridle and towing spring.
Crew wise, under the Bermudian flag, there was myself and 2 European mates, and the Chief and 2nd Engineers. In addition, a Filipino Chief Petty Officer, his P.O. a Donkey Greaser/driver and one other greaser, three general purpose ratings and the cook. Thirteen of us in total. A bit of alright for the chief and me, manning wise, as we didn’t have to do a watch.
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harry t.
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