65 Foot Tugs

The Coast Guard Cutter Bridle breaks ice on the Penobscot River in Maine March 17, 2015. Operation renewable energy for Northeast Winters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Marc Moore)

Below is a news release about a routine operation that occurs every year. Keeping harbors open for delivery of heating oil and breaking up ice dams to prevent flooding is seasonal. It is routine, but it is also important.

What I wanted to point out is, that these useful little ships are getting very old and there is no replacement in sight. Replacement with something more capable would be easy and inexpensive.

The Coast Guard commissioned 15 of these 65 foot harbor tugs between 1961 and 1967, during the same period we were also building 378s, 210s, and 82s. Four have been decommissioned, but eleven continue to serve. All are based in the NE, from Baltimore North.

These little vessels are easy to overlook, but they still do important work. They are 54 to 61 years old. They have at most 500 HP. It is pass time to replace them with something better. Here is an example of a 56 foot, 750 HP potential replacement, and with only a little effort, we could probably do better that.

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 1st District Northeast

 Coast Guard to break ice along Penobscot, Connecticut, and Hudson Rivers in support of Operation RENEW 

IMMEDIATE OPPORTUNITY AVAILABLE: The Coast Guard Cutters Bridle, Shackle, and Tackle, are scheduled to break ice along the Bangor, Maine, waterfront on the Penobscot River, Thursday, at 26 Front Street, Bangor, Maine. News media must RSVP with D1PublicAffairs@uscg.mil if interested in getting underway for icebreaking operations.

BOSTON — The Coast Guard ice breaking season is underway as winter’s cold temperatures are impacting ports, waterways, and harbors in the Northeast. 

Operation Reliable Energy for Northeast Winters (RENEW) is the Coast Guard’s region-wide effort to ensure Northeast communities have the security, supplies, energy, and emergency resources they need throughout the winter. 

Of the heating oil used in the country, more than 85 percent is consumed in the Northeast, and 90 percent of that is delivered on a Coast Guard maintained waterway by ship. 

The Coast Guard’s domestic icebreaking operations are intended to facilitate navigation within reasonable demands of commerce and minimize waterways closures during the winter, while enabling commercial vessels to transit through ice-covered critical channels. 

Coast Guard crews are also replacing aids to navigation with special ice buoys designed to ride underneath ice and remain on location.  

A coordinated effort with the maritime industry ensures the vital ports of the Northeast remain open year-round. 

COVID-19: The following safety protocols must be followed by all personnel who intend to come aboard any unit for icebreaking:

  • Masks must be worn throughout the event by all attendees
  • Visitors must provide a negative COVID-19 test that is less than 48 hours old (at home test/rapid test/PCR test)
  • Visitors must also provide proof of full vaccination status

5 thoughts on “65 Foot Tugs

  1. The CG tried to decomm the 65s long ago w/o replacement. The 90s I believe. Main engines had already been bought for replacement and were then sold off after it looked like they would go away. Congress stepped in and saved them and then the engines had to be bought again. If memory serves they were built with 350HP 6 cylinder Waukesha. When those became unsupportable they put in 375HP D353 CAts. When THOSE became unsupportable the current derated Cats (3512 I think) were installed. Can’t really see a need to recapitalize these cutters. A lot of what they do is direct industry support of breaking out fuel piers etc. If industry needs this, they should contract it. The CG already requires escort tugs on the Hudson for low power tugs.

  2. Awhile back Chuck did a post about the busiest ports in CONUS, using containers, passengers, and another metric or two. Chuck has always discussed what it would take to stop a large merchant vessel too, settling on a torpedo or big (5”) gun. In combining Chuck’s points and thinking through the entire engagement, I always thought an MSST boarding team, small boat station, and at least two CG WYTLs would be key at these busiest ports as well.

    The WYTL’s purpose is to move the now-disabled large merchant to a safer spot, away from blocking a channel or destroying key infrastructure. I mean, once the rudder and screw on the merchant are torpedoed and disabled, the rogue merchant might still go somewhere we don’t want it, without tugs.

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