Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

A Tug for the World

Dunlap Towing Welcomes 121-foot SOLAS Ocean Tug Sigrid Dunlap


July 1, 2018

The boat carries no ballast water tanks, trim is accomplished by transferring fuel. The bilge water is cleaned by a Viking separator, pumping into a 1,600-gallon bilge/gray/blackwater tank. Photo by Peter Marsh.

Dunlap Towing provides a full range of services on the US west coast, from log rafts in Puget sound to offshore barging to Hawaii and remote locations in Western Alaska. In June 2018, the company was completing trials of the 5,350 HP Sigrid Dunlap, the second 121-foot ocean towing tug built for them by Hansen Boat Company in Marysville, Washington to a design by Hockema Whalen Myers Associates. The first boat was the 5,100 HP Phyllis Dunlap, launched in 2001, which joined a fleet of ten long-haul tugs built in the 1970's and 1980's. She has successfully completed hundreds of voyages between Seattle and Honolulu and logged hundreds of thousands of miles.

In 2014, Dunlap president Jim Dunlap – the nephew of company founder Gene Dunlap – marked the company's 90th anniversary with a new construction program that delivered the 101-foot ASD tug Gretchen Dunlap with a 94-ton bollard pull in 2016 for the company's Dutch Harbor ship assist service. Both these projects were supervised by Gordon Taylor, who has been with Dunlap for 40 years, as port engineer, operations manager, and now vice-president.

Externally the sister tugs Sigrid and Phyllis are identical, with both hulls featuring the same deep-sided hull form that the architects used for the previous two vessels with a beam of 38 feet and depth of hull of 19 feet. The Phyllis is still powered by the original pair of six-cylinder, Caterpillar 3606 (DITA) diesels each rated for 2,550 HP at 900 RPM. The engine room of the Sigrid was updated by naval architect Mike Whalen to accept Caterpillar's new platform, the C175-16 EPA Marine Tier III engine developing 2,673 HP/1,995kw each at 1,600 rpm.

These engines turn 11-inch ABS grade 2 steel shafts with stainless steel liners via Reinjtes WAF 1173 ratio 8.77/1 reduction gears for a total output of 5,346 HP. The propellers are 120-inch by 121-inch three-blade stainless steel turning in Nautican 120-inch nozzles with stators equipped with Nautican's Triple Rudder system. Fuel capacity is 152,000 gallons and fuel consumption is estimated at 4,200-4,800 gallons per day with an estimated load factor of 80 percent. The fuel cleaner is an Alfa Laval, and hull draft varies from 12 feet, 6 inches to almost 17 feet depending on fuel load. Lube oil capacity is 1,600 gallons and hydraulic capacity is 1,880 gallons. The gen-sets are a pair of Caterpillar C7.1 Tier 3 – 118 kW 3-phase/208V AC.

Dunlap has a long history with Caterpillar as the first marine company to install the commercial version of the CAT 3500 series in 1985 – in the 98.5-foot Malolo, built in 1975 by Allied Shipyard of Larose, Louisiana. Subsequently, all Dunlap's tugs have been powered or re-powered by Caterpillars.

The bridge is fully equipped for long hauls with matte-black metal panels overhead, and a full suite of Furuno electronics. The center helm station with a Sea Post chair is primarily run by the Simrad AP80 autopilot and GC 80 gyrocompass. Port and starboard stations are equipped with Jastram levers and bow winch controls on the starboard side as well. Internal radio communications are by Jotron. A traditional touch is provided by a single window at each station that is opened by a hand crank.

The tow winch is a Markey double drum model TDSDS-36 powered by a John Deere-Clark 200-HP diesel located inside the deckhouse and connected by a short shaft that passes through the aft cabin wall. The drums have an increased capacity over those in the Phyllis, holding 3,100 feet of 2.25-inch wire and 2,400 feet of 2.25-inch wire. The control panel is on the upper deck above the winch. The tow pins were built by McEvoy Machine works. On the bow is a Markey DESW 32-20 electric-drive winch with an anchor chain windlass.

The comfortable accommodations consist of two single and five double staterooms with web access and climate control via a Dometic heat pump in a dedicated compartment on the lower deck that also holds other hotel gear like two water heaters, spare parts etc. The crew will usually consist of six on a round trip to Hawaii that takes 24-26 days, so the galley is equipped with top-quality nautical appliances, including a Lang range with its own wet chemical suppression system. The boat has a 2,000-gallon dedicated potable water tank that meets all requirements of the US Public Health System as well as up to 28,000 gallons of additional fresh water carried in engine room wing tanks.

SOLAS – Necessary But Expensive

SOLAS compliance is confirmed in the USA by ABS under the supervision of the US Coast Guard. The New Orleans ABS office reviewed the design and inspection was done by their representative in Seattle – who also provided load line approval. The Sigrid Dunlap measures 193 gross tons under domestic rules, but comes under the 500-ton GT ITC class internationally, Taylor explained. SOLAS is not technically required for the tugs on the Hawaii route, but is now usually included in the certification of most new long-distance ocean-going tugs to enable them to make foreign voyages. The latest IMO rules now require US-flagged tugs of this size to have full SOLAS to visit Canadian or Mexican ports.

The list of compulsory requirements is long, including gear like an emergency power supply that bridges the gap before the third emergency gen-set – a compact 42 kW Marathon Magna Plus engine – kicks in. This is located in a separate compartment in the deckhouse with a door opening to the upper side-deck in front of an approved rescue boat. This high-visibility orange craft is an aluminum double-walled design from Palfinger that is launched by a straight-boom 2,500-lb. crane that came from Allied Industries of Tualatin, Oregon.

The extensive Kidde FM 200 fire-fighting system is activated by compressed nitrogen bottles and uses safe and clean agents. A separate Type K system protects the galley stove. All the poured-concrete floors and insulation are non-combustible; the shower stalls are stainless steel welded in-house. The boat carries no Ballast Water tanks, trim is accomplished by transferring fuel. The bilge water is cleaned by a Viking separator, pumping into a 1,600-gallon bilge/gray/blackwater tank.

The rules also require a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS0), covered by a Furuno RC 1815 connected to the INMARSAT C satellite network by a Sailor 3027 antenna that provides data reporting, polling, text messaging and distress signaling. Taylor pointed out that this unit is new but technically outdated, relying on a pair of traditional printers to deliver radio-telex information. Jim Dunlap estimated these additions added 10 to 12 percent to the boat's cost, but give the company more opportunities to keep the fleet fully employed with trans-Pacific routes and international customers.

Dunlap Founded in 1925

The Sigrid is named after Jim Dunlap's grandmother, who came to the United States from Norway in the early 1900s. Dunlap Towing was founded by Sigrid's step-son Gene Dunlap in 1925. Sigrid provided some financial support to Gene to help him purchase what became Dunlap Towing Company. The new tug was christened by Sigrid's granddaughter, Sybil Jenson, who lives in La Conner, Washington, where Dunlap is based.

Dunlap Towing was started in 1925 by Gene Dunlap to haul fish, grain, and straw from the Skagit River delta to the markets and flour mills of Seattle. The company moved into log towing, gravel barging, and other services around the Puget Sound. Jim Dunlap, Gene's nephew, completed his service in the Navy in 1970 and returned to the family business in 1970. This began a decade of change with the new base established at the Port of Skagit's La Conner Marina in 1972 and the formation of a freight company specializing in containerized and break bulk freight barging to Alaska and Hawaii in 1978. Dunlap Towing is now one of the only companies in the Northwest that provides full-service log handling.

SOLAS compliance requires an approved rescue boat – in this case a high-visibility orange aluminum double-walled design from Palfinger that is launched by a straight-boom crane. Photo by Peter Marsh.

All Jim's children – two daughters and a son – have worked at the company at some point. Meghan Dunlap-Rice said she worked in Seattle for a few years after college before coming back to the towing company. "I feel very fortunate to work with a great group of people that I have come to consider family," she said. "Their talent, support, and dedication has enabled us to grow and adapt, and contributes to our 93-year long history. The Sigrid was made possible through their passion, commitment and hard work."

Dunlap has a staff of about 180, with a core of second- and third-generation employees constituting the backbone of the company's management. All the company's ocean-going tugs are maintained to the highest standards by the company's own maintenance/ and engineering team. The oldest is the Vulcan, built in 1938, and still in excellent condition and still working in the local waters. It is also a reminder to everyone in the company how state-of-the art technology in the wheelhouse and on deck now provides the crew with the most advanced tools to safely do their job in any weather.


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