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Tug Technology & Business

Harley Marine is still powering on after 30 years

Mon 07 Aug 2017 by Clive Woodbridge

Harley Marine is still powering on after 30 years
The tractor tug Rich Padden under construction at Diversified Marine

Investment in new and more powerful tugs is a fitting way for the Seattle-based tug operator to mark its 30th anniversary, writes Clive Woodbridge

Leading US tug operator Harley Marine Services celebrates 30 years in business this year, having been founded by current chairman, Harley Franco back in 1987. The Seattle-based company has significantly expanded the scale and scope of its operations over those three decades and this milestone year has been marked by the delivery of some notable new tugs.

In June, Harley Marine Services welcomed Dr Hank Kaplan into its Puget Sound fleet. It is a 24m long, 70 tonnes bollard pull tug, built by Diversified Marine in Portland, Oregon, and designed by Robert Allen. While the new tug is a sister to Michelle Sloan and Lela Franco, which are RAmparts 2400-type tugs delivered in 2015, it is notable for being the first vessel of its type in North America to feature a complete Cat Marine propulsion system (see page 34). Work is in progress at Diversified Marine on a second vessel of the same specification, with Rich Padden expected to enter service on the US West Coast this year.

In early 2017, Harley Marine Services took delivery of the 36.5m, 75 tonnes bollard pull tractor tug Earl W Redd, which was the first vessel of its type in the US to meet the demanding Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 emissions standards. Also built at Diversified Marine, the tug features twin Cat 3516 main engines, fitted with a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) after-treatment system to meet the EPA’s standard and is operating with Harley’s Olympic Tug & Barge division in Seattle.

As part of its ongoing fleet modernisation programme, Harley Marine Services is in the process of commissioning two articulated tug and barge units (ATB). The vessels include two 35.4m tugs being built at Conrad Shipyard and two 80,000-barrel capacity barges from Gunderson Marine. The two tugs, OneCure and Todd E Prophet, are also equipped with Tier 4 compliant main engines, this time from GE. They are due for delivery around October this year. Two other ATB tugs, Bill Gobel and Min Zidell, have also been delivered to Harley Marine Services by Conrad shipyard this year.

From its beginnings in Seattle harbour, Harley Marine Services has expanded and now provides towage and other marine services along the US West Coast, Alaska, US Gulf and in the port of New York/New Jersey. The bedrock of the company remains Olympic Tug and Barge, which was set up in 1987 with a single leased tug and barge and which quickly grew both in terms of fleet size and the range of services provided. This division now has a fleet of more than 20 tugs operating along the West Coast.

In mid-1998, Harley Marine Services was formed as a holding company for acquisitions. Since then, the number of vessels and homeports served by the company has continued to grow at a steady pace (see timeline).

Harley Marine Services’ tugs provide harbour and escort services, emergency and rescue tows and long distance coastal towage. It made its first foray into international long haul towage  last year. Olympic Tug & Barge’s tug Ernest Campbell towed vessel Susitna, loaded on barge Chatham Provider, on a demanding 15,000 nautical mile journey from Washington to the Philippines for the Philippine Red Cross during the fourth quarter of 2016.

Harley Marine Timeline

  • 1987 – Olympic Tug and Barge set up in Seattle
  • 1988 – Harley Marine Services formed as a holding company
  • 1998 – acquired Pacific Coast Maritime with Alaska, Washington, and California operations
  • 1998 – purchased Links Marine assets from Chemoil Corp
  • 2000 – added Millennium Marine, started operating in Los Angeles and Long Beach
  • 2003 – entered San Francisco Bay under the name Starlight Marine Services
  • 2006 – established Harley Marine New York
  • 2011 – formed Harley Marine Gulf by acquisition of MGI
  • 2016 – entered the international long haul towage sector

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