Union-Contracted Crescent Towing Adds New Z-Drive Tugboats

February 2011

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Seafarers-contracted Crescent Towing recently added the second in a series of three new Z-drive tugboats constructed in Mobile, Ala.


The state-of-the-art J.K. McLean, which completed sea trials in January, is the 25th SIU-crewed boat in Crescent’s fleet. The other boats in the newest series are the Lisa Cooper (delivered in 2010) and the David J. Cooper, slated for delivery later this year. The David J. Cooper will increase the fleet’s size to 26 boats, according to Crescent Chief Operating Officer Keith Kettenring.


More than 150 SIU members are employed by Crescent. They operate harbor-assist tugs in New Orleans, Savannah, Ga., and Mobile, Ala., sailing as captains, wheelmen, engineers and deckhands.


Each of the three new Z-drive tugs is 92 feet long and 38 feet wide and draws 17 feet. Each tug is 193 gross tons, with 5,225 hp. Built by C&G Boatworks, the boats use twin six-cylinder General Electric engines and Rolls-Royce 255 Z-drives, producing what Crescent describes as “a formidable 65 tons of bollard pull.”


Crescent further reports that the new boats “are equipped with the most recent, up-to-date safety features and latest high-tech computerized systems and accessing monitors backing up all on-board systems from wheelhouse to engine room. [They are] fitted with the latest AIS/VIS systems, motion sensors and security systems in addition to the latest communications and navigation equipment.”


The Lisa Cooper is operating in Mobile, while the J.K. McLean is sailing in New Orleans. The company hasn’t finalized plans concerning the home port for the David J. Cooper.


New tonnage isn’t the only good news for Crescent’s SIU boatmen. Crew members are sailing under a three-year contract unanimously approved last year. That agreement boosted wages over the term of the contract and maintained benefits. It also increased the compensation for crews in Mobile so that their wages will match those of crews in New Orleans and Savannah.


“I think the contract and the overall operations are a testament to the knowledge, skills and abilities of the SIU members in addition to the improving situations at the ports,” stated SIU Vice President Gulf Coast Dean Corgey, who headed the union’s negotiating team. “Our folks are doing lots of training, and they’re also benefiting from great cooperation with management for future opportunities. We truly have achieved exemplary labor-management relations, and Crescent Towing absolutely deserves their share of the credit.”


Joining Corgey on the bargaining committee were SIU members Capt. Mike Yarbrough, Engineer Steve Woods, Deckhand Jason Johnson, Capt. Timmy Gegenheimer, Engineer Glenn Richard, Wheelman/Deckhand Jason Bryan and Wheelman/Deckhand Ben Murphy. Yarbrough, Woods and Johnson served as delegates from Mobile; Gegenheimer, Richard and Bryan represented members from New Orleans; and Murphy was the delegate from Savannah. New Orleans Port Agent Chris Westbrook and Mobile Port Agent Jimmy White rounded out the team.


Yarbrough, who has served on three SIU-Crescent negotiating committees, said the bargaining for the current contract “went very smooth. We received a real good contract. I think people on both side of the table were very happy with the outcome…. Crescent Towing has been affiliated with the SIU for years, and we have an excellent working relationship.”


Yarbrough added that he recently trained at the Seafarers-affiliated Paul Hall Center in Piney Point, Md. He described the school as “first class,” and added, “I think that’s something everybody should take advantage of.”

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Lisa Cooper

The Lisa Cooper is part of an influx of new tonnage at Crescent Towing.


Z-Drive Tug

The company's newest Z-drive tug is based in New Orleans.


JK McLean Group

Celebrating the addition of the J.K. McLean aboard the tug in Mobile, Ala., are (from left) SIU Port Agent Jimmy White, VP Gulf Coast Dean Corgey, Crescent Towing Pres. Scott Cooper, Crescent VP Edward Pinner and Crescent Asst. VP Tom Lambard.