Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

M/V Simone Brusco


Kurt Redd photo courtesy of Diversified marine, Inc.

Brusco Tug & Barge's newest 78-foot by 31-foot ship assist tug, the Simone Brusco, was seen here in sea trials on the Columbia River before going to work work last month at Port Hueneme, California.

Last month, Brusco Tug & Barge took delivery of their third Robert Allan-designed ship assist tug, the 78-foot by 31-foot Simone Brusco. The new vessel is a continuation of a line of ship assist tugs for Longview, Washington-based Brusco Tug & Barge, and differs only slightly from the 2001-built M/V Wynema Spirit and the M/V Lulapin delivered in 2005. All three vessels were built at Diversified Marine, in Portland, Oregon. The most notable change is the choice of propulsion for the new boat, which boasts a pair of Caterpillar 3512 Tier III engines producing a combined 4,000 HP through Aquamaster 205 azimuthing stern drives. The earlier vessels were fitted with 1,800 HP Detroit Diesel engines powering Ulstein model 1350H drives.

The increase in power will allow the boat to handle larger vessels calling at Port Hueneme, California, where all three boats are currently performing ship assist duties.

"The Simone is a great boat," says Mike Fullilove, General Manager of Brusco Tug & Barge's Port Hueneme operations. "It's virtually the same boat, but more horsepower." Fullilove says the new boat has been performing better than expected. "She's been doing very well working ship assist for ten days," he noted, late last month. "The extra horsepower and bigger drive units definitely make a difference."

"When we took delivery of the Wynema Spirit in 2001, the first thing we did was angle the staple on the bow back a little more," Fullilove says. "We didn't do that to the Lulapin, but when we had the new boat built, we had that angle designed in."

Fullilove says some of the car carriers calling at Hueneme have a steeply-flared hull. "When the boats push on the corner they dive down a bit, and the staple would come close to the ship's hull. With the staple angled back, we can work more ships on the corner."

One of the results of the angled staple is a change in the way the boat handles. "The angle seems to help keep the stern down," Fullilove says. "When the boat is pulling hard, the line tends to lift the stern a bit. By angling it back we cut a lot of that out," he says. "Every little bit helps."

Like the Lulapin, Simone is outfitted with a forward electric Markey Render/Recover™ hawser winch. "This application is a relatively standard class 2 hawser winch for ship assist and docking," says Scott Kreis, sales manager at Markey Machinery. Ninety percent of our hawser winches are electric now," he says. "They're easier and quicker to install, and there's less expense and less maintenance for the customer. They're also quieter, for better crew comfort," he says.

Like her sisters, the Simone is a day boat, designed for a crew of two or three. Although the boat has a head, small galley and dinette booth, there are no bunks or accommodations, and Fullilove says the boats are crewed on a call-out basis.

The Simone is also fitted with a 1,500 gpm fire pump and monitor, driven by a power takeoff from one of the auxiliary generators. The boats can not only pour water on a shipboard fire, but act as an auxiliary water source for shore-based emergencies. "We have joint exercises with the City of Ventura Fire Department," Fullilove says. "If they need to, the fire department can attach their fittings into our discharge line, and we can send water to help them fight a building or ship fire."

The design originated in the mid 1980s and first saw production with a new series of tugboats for British Columbia's C.H. Cates Towing, later incorporated into Seaspan. "The Cates boats were the first Robert Allan tugs to have the larger radius bow," says Ken Harford, President of Robert Allan Ltd. "As tug horsepower increased, tugs needed to have a larger bow radius to help spread the load." Harford notes the same process of evolution brought the continuous, cylindrical fendering system now commonplace on ship assist tugs. "The load became too concentrated with just heavy equipment tires."

While the Brusco boats have the continuous fendering found on other modern ship assist boats, they also have classic rubber tire fendering. The company takes this belt-and-suspenders approach because the tugs are also the port's pilot boats, delivering and picking up Harbor pilots from the banana ships, car carriers and fertilizer tankers that make up much of the traffic at Port Hueneme.

Mike Fullilove photo courtesy of Brusco Tug & Barge.

All three of Brusco's Port Hueneme tugs also serve as pilot boats, so the company has fitted a man-overboard recovery davit and sling to all of its vessels.

"It's a unique circumstance," Fullilove says. "We take pilots out in the trough, and the extra cushioning from the tires helps with the pilot transfer." The pilot service makes a lot of sense at Hueneme, he notes. "It's only a short run, a couple miles out. When you actually get to the entrance its not that far into the turning basin."

The Simone has the same pilot service hardware adapted to the first two vessels, including a steel cable along the side of the house the pilots can attaché a harness to. The boats also make use of a Brusco-built man overboard retrieval system, with a davit and aluminum ladder.

"You just can't bring somebody aboard these boats- they're too high. The chances of a pilot going in the water are remote, but you have to bring them back on," Fullilove says. He notes that the transfer takes place in open water, which can get pretty rough. "We drill with the equipment pretty regularly," he says. "It's kind of fun to have the pilots jump in the water."


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