Blakeley Boatworks Delivers Innovative Linehaul Towing Vessel to CMT

The M/V Gretchen V. Cooper
The M/V Gretchen V. Cooper

Published Mar 19, 2021 10:48 AM by The Maritime Executive

The M/V Gretchen V. Cooper, the nation’s first linehaul towing vessel powered by Tier 4 Caterpillar high-speed engines with selective catalytic reduction, was built by Blakeley BoatWorks (BBW) and is now operated by Cooper Marine and Timberlands (CMT). BBW and CMT are both headquartered in the port of Mobile, Alabama and are wholly owned subsidiaries of Cooper/T. Smith.

In March 2021, Blakeley BoatWorks successfully completed construction of M/V Gretchen V. Cooper, a state-of-the-art, Tier-4 inland linehaul tow boat, fully compliant with the latest United States Coast Guard regulatory requirements. This 3,400-horsepower vessel is 110-feet long, 33-feet wide, and expands CMT’s fleet to 20 vessels.

Currently, Tier-4 diesel engine standards are the strictest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions requirements for new engines found in inland marine vessels. Tier-4 compliant engines significantly reduce emissions of particulate matter, or black soot, and nitrogen oxides to near zero levels. These engines save fuel and reduce emissions by more than 86% for large applications like marine vessels. 

“Our customers expect Blakeley BoatWorks and Cooper Marine & Timberlands to drive industry innovation, and our building and operating one of the industry’s most environmentally friendly tow boats marks our unwavering commitment to always exceed their expectations,” said Angus R. Cooper III, President, Cooper/T. Smith. “Naming a boat after my wife Gretchen meant that we couldn’t just settle for building a standard tow boat and therefore, the M/V Gretchen V. Cooper will be one of the most powerful towing vessels operating on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and will lead the way for a new industry standard for reduced emissions on tow boats.”

Cooper Marine & Timberlands’ port operations are powered by 20 towing vessels, more than 400 hopper barges, and one of the country's largest fleet of dry bulk gantry and floating derrick cranes. The company’s marine footprint includes the Tennessee-Tombigbee River system, Ohio River, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Illinois River, Arkansas River, Cumberland River, Black Warrior River, Tennessee River, Tombigbee River, Mobile River, and Mississippi River. CMT’s world-class stevedoring operations include two deep-draft bulk cargo terminals in the Port of Mobile and numerous inland marine terminals throughout the states of Alabama and Mississippi.

“The ongoing investments that CMT is making across our fleet best ensures that our customers will continue to receive the safest, most environmentally friendly, and highest level of service in our region,” said James Fowler, Managing Director of Marine & Stevedoring Operations for Cooper Marine and Timberlands and Executive Vice President for Blakeley BoatWorks. “As was true when BBW built some of the nation’s first subchapter M new construction towing vessels and now, as we deliver a new linehaul with the latest and most advanced carbon reduction technology, BBW eagerly stands ready to deliver on our industry’s newest and most challenging jobs.”

Situated on 26 acres in heart of the port of Mobile and with capacity to simultaneously service up to 15 towing vessels and barges, Blakeley BoatWorks (BBW) is a full-service shipyard specializing in small vessel repair, barge repair, and new vessel construction. Equipped with a 1,900-ton floating dry dock, 660-ton travel lift, and four covered fabrication shops, BBW is the Gulf Coast's premier towing vessel shipyard.

“Our team is proud to be part of the construction of the Gretchen V. Cooper,” said Swathin Kannalath, Managing Director of Blakeley BoatWorks. “Delivering one of the first Tier-4 linehaul vessels in the country presented an exciting challenge for the Blakeley team and we delivered with this vessel, meeting not only the highest industry standards but also exceeding our customer’s expectations.”

Gretchen V. Cooper Specs

The towboat is powered by two (2) Caterpillar C3512E 3,400 HP Tier IV diesel marine engines operating at 1,800 RPM and coupled to Twin Disc MGX5600 gears. Thompson Caterpillar also supplied electrical power with two (2) Caterpillar C4.4 Tier III generators with RW Fernstrum, Inc. keel coolers throughout. 

A pair of Southeastern Propeller 88” x 74’ x 9” four-blade stainless steel propellers provide thrust through two (2) J & S Machine Works, Inc. 9” ABS Grade two propeller shafts with Cutlass shaft bearings, Thordon rudder bearings, and Kemel shaft seals. Gulf Coast Air and Hydraulics supplied the steering system for the two (2) 9” main and four (4) 8” flanking rudders.

Hydra Force LLC provided a pair of Quincy reciprocating air compressors, with ventilation fans provided by Donovan Marine. Schuyler Maritime, LLC supplied varying sizes of rubber fendering around the perimeter of the vessel and push knees.

Stone Construction provided a Mitsubishi mini-split HVAC system in all interior spaces with Blakeley BoatWorks providing all custom woodwork and interior finishes. Bozant supplied aluminum and rubber-framed windows and Donovan Marine supplied a pair of Patterson 40-ton deck winches. Blakeley BoatWorks installed all electronics, communications, and an alarm system.

The towboat has a capacity of 44,200 gallons of fuel, 10,000 gallons of potable water, along with providing a maximum 8’-6” working draft. The vessel is outfitted with six (6) crew staterooms housing 8 crewmen, 4 ½ baths and a full galley arrangement.

The products and services herein described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.