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Hamilton Reef
11-02-2005, 12:37 PM
Tug rescues icebreaker

http://www.ludingtondailynews.com/news.php?story_id=29251

By ANDY KLEVORN Daily News Staff Writer 11-2-2005
aklevorn@ludingtondailynews.com 843-1122, ext. 327

Welcome to Ludington, Snohomish.

After 2,500 miles, hurricanes, and an interesting Tuesday morning tow, the 110-foot, former Coast Guard Icebreaker Snohomish made the port of Ludington Tuesday afternoon.

Capt. Franz VonRiedel, of the tug Sharon Elizabeth, said the excitement, which led to the tow, started about 1:30 a.m. He said eight-foot waves started rolling his tug — designed for flat-water harbor work — violently from side to side.

“The whole boat was trashed,” VonRiedel said. “There wasn’t one thing left on a shelf.”

He said the decks on either side of the tug were awash with water with every set of waves. The violent rolling also caused his engines to lose cooling water and overheat, forcing the engineer to shut down the engines.

The four-person crew of the Sharon Elizabeth managed to bring the Snohomish closer to the Sharon Elizabeth’s stern, using towing gear it had on board. The Snohomish originally was 400 feet behind the Sharon Elizabeth.

Rough seas then severed the tow line and caused the two ships to collide several times.

VonRiedel said he thinks tug boats have an “ego problem.”

“They don’t like to be towed — they fight it — you can hear them back there (when under tow), bitching at you,” he said.

At that point VonRiedel called for help.

“We got a call they needed assistance,” said Station Manistee Coast Guard Petty Officer Jason Tessier.

Both of Station Manistee’s larger boats were out of service, so the Coast Guard stood by until seas abated enough for the Coast Guard to assist with its 23-foot boat.

Enter Capt. Tom Dawes and the crew of Pere Marquette Shipping’s PM 41, which is based out of Ludington.

Dawes called Pere Marquette Shipping Chief Operating Officer Chuck Leonard and told him he thought the crew of the PM 41 could, and should, help.

“They (Sharon Elizabeth and Snohomish) were in a bad situation,” Leonard said.

By then they were within two miles of shore, drifting about 1.5 miles an hour. Dropping an anchor would have been an option for the Sharon Elizabeth, but the unmanned Snohomish most likely would have run aground.

The Coast Guard arrived about the same time as the PM 41 and Dawes asked the Coast Guard crew to ferry members of the PM 41 crew to the unmanned Snohomish. The Coast Guard then helped take tow lines to the Undaunted, secured that vessel then ferried the crewmen back to the Undaunted.

The crew of the Undaunted first got the Sharon Elizabeth under tow and then circled back for the Snohomish and continued with both vessels in tow, into Ludington.

VonRiedel had high praise for the crew of the PM 41.

“They were a lifesaver,” he said.

“Best captain I’ve ever seen,” VonRiedel added, referring to Dawes.

VonRiedel said he’s not sure who threw the first tow line to his tug from the PM 41, but he’s never seen a tow line thrown that far.

“Must have been 80 feet,” he said.

Leonard also praised his crew.

“They did a wonderful job, we have a great crew,” he said.

In the end all of the vessels made it into the port of Ludington safely. The PM 41 entered the harbor about noon Tuesday, with both tugs in tow. A King Marine tug, in Ludington on another job, assisted at the back of the parade, helping to keep the two tugs “in check.”

Repairs to the Sharon Elizabeth were minor and the crew expects to head to Duluth, Minn., this morning.

The tug Snohomish will remain in Ludington. The tug is being leased from the Northeast Maritime Historical Foundation by S.S. Badger Senior Chief Engineer Chuck Cart.

He plans to put the icebreaker into commercial service as an icebreaking tug in the Great Lakes during his off-season from the Badger.

The name of the new company is Sable Point Marine.

Cart said he plans to have the tug in operation by February and plans to operate primarily in Lake Michigan.

The vessels

Snohomish - 110-foot former Coast Guard Icebreaker, built in 1943 and first put into service in Boston. In 1947 the vessel was transferred to Rockland, Maine, where it served out its Coast Guard career. Since its Coast Guard service the vessel has been a live-aboard yacht and an ocean-going tug. Its most recent home port was Charleston, S.C., where the Northeast Maritime Historical Foundation took over ownership.

Sharon Elizabeth - 96-foot harbor tug, built in Bay City in 1938.

Undaunted - 143-foot tug, converted to fit into the PM 41 barge, creating a 403-foot articulated tug-barge combo with the former City of Midland carferry. The tug was built in 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas, as an ocean-rescue vessel to assist and salvage U.S. war ships.




waterfoul
11-02-2005, 01:02 PM
Kind of hard to follow the first time you read it. But what a story! How'd you like to have been standing on the pier fishing when all that came thru?? Would have been a sight!

Getaway
11-04-2005, 07:52 AM
Pretty awesome story. I'm glad everyone is ok.

Kinda neat to see Bay City as the ship builder for the Sharon Elizabeth in 1938. She was probably built at the Defoe ship yard right next to the Liberty Bridge. We have a lot of ship building history in Bay City.