Great Lakes Group Christens New Tug


July 2012

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The new tugboat Handy-Three has entered service in Puerto Rico, signifying new jobs for SIU members as well as for members of the Seafarers-affiliated American Maritime Officers. The boat is an outright addition to the Puerto Rico Towing & Barge Co. fleet; the company is a subsidiary of The Great Lakes Group.


SIU members working aboard Puerto Rico Towing & Barge vessels have been providing vessel assistance and towing services to commercial vessels and barges in San Juan Harbor, other inland ports, and waters throughout the Caribbean for more than 15 years.


Recently constructed at Great Lakes Shipyard in Cleveland, the Handy-Three is the fifth tug in the company’s fleet. The new tug is the third of a class designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants of Seattle, and is built specifically for harbor work and coastal barge towing. It is 74 feet long, has a beam of 30 feet, and a design draft of 11.5 feet. The tug’s free-running speed is 12 knots.


In announcing the delivery, The Great Lakes Group noted, “By making this $5.7 million investment in a harbor tug, the company improves the efficiency of the fleet’s round-the-clock towing services and demonstrates the company’s continued commitment to the local economy by creating sustainable career jobs and putting money back into Puerto Rico.”


A christening ceremony in Puerto Rico was expected to take place in late June or early July. A naming ceremony happened May 2 at the yard in Cleveland; U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), a longtime supporter of the U.S. Merchant Marine and American shipbuilding, served as the tug’s sponsor. SIU Vice President Great Lakes and Inland Waters Tom Orzechowski represented the union at the event.


“We have to play to our strengths in creating new jobs,” said Congresswoman Kaptur. “One of our historical assets along the North Coast has been shipbuilding. In a globalized economy, the demand of maritime transportation will grow dramatically, and we can take advantage of that opportunity right here if we work together.”


At the naming ceremony, Ron Rasmus, president of The Great Lakes Group, said Kaptur “is here today because of her sponsorship and commitment to small shipyards.”



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