It was sad to hear that this past week, the tug Pegasus made her last trip to the great shipyard in the sky. Figure I would throw together a little post about a cool old vintage tug that would meet an unfortunate end this week.
The Pegasus was built in 1907 by Skinner Shipbuilding in Baltimore, for Standard Oil Company, as the S.O. Co. 16. The tug would later be renamed the Socony 16, and eventually wound up as the Esso Tug #1 after several rounds of company reorganizations. McAllister Towing of New York would purchase the steam powered tug, and rebuild her. Converted to Diesel propulsion, an EMD 567 was installed in place of the large engine and boiler. Now renamed the John E. McAllister, she would join the companies massive fleet doing shipdocking and other harbor work. McAllister would also purchase sister tug Esso Tug #2, and rebuild her the same way, now renamed as the Roderick McAllister. Another Socony sister tug – the Socony #14, would find a new home with Philadelphia’s Independent Pier Company, and was renamed the Jupiter. She also is a museum tug in Philadelphia.
By the 1980’s, towing companies were selling off the last of the older, converted steam tugs. Numerous smaller companies would benefit from this, and would give many of these older tugs a new life. In 1987, the John E. McAllister was purchased by Hepburn Marine Towing of New York, where she was renamed as the Pegasus.
Hepburn Marine would do various work throughout the city, including spending several years towing carfloats for the New York Cross Harbor Railroad. Hepburn would ultimatly charter the tug James E. Witte from Donjon, the former Central Railroad of New Jersey tug Liberty for doing this work – a tug much better suited. Pegasus would be retired in 1997.
The Tug Pegasus Preservation Project was formed, and spent many years actively restoring the tug from the hull up. Volunteers spent several years actively restoring various parts of the tug, and the Pegasus would tow the Lehigh Valley Barge #79 (The Waterfront Museum – see link below) numerous times around the city. I was only ever inside the Pegasus once, a few photos are below.
McAllister would repower the tug with a WWII surplus LST package – a 900HP EMD 12-567ATLP, with a Falk (Falk designed, however several contractors during the war built them, including Esco and Lufkin) reverse-reduction gear. This was one of the most common tug repower packages used after WWII, and I am slowly working on a large post about them.
The engine in the Pegasus was originally installed in Landing Ship Tank (LST) #121, shipped by EMD 6/16/1943. LST 121 was launched August 16, 1943 by Jefferson Boat & Machine. 121 would spend her career on the Pacific front and was present at the Marshall Islands, Iwo Jima, The Marianas, Western Caroline Islands and the Tinian Capture, earning 5 battle stars. She would be sold for scrap in 1946.
The Pegasus project fell dormant, and was looking for new caretakers and leadership for several years. Unfortunately, nothing would come to fruition. The museum ship world is one of the hardest aspects of preservation out there, and it gets harder every year as these boats get older. We have lost numerous preserved tugs just in the last few years. Times are tough, but be sure to help support your favorite museum ship. Every one of these groups needs all the help they can get.
Links of interest:
John E. McAllister/Pegasus – http://www.tugboatinformation.com/tug.cfm?id=659
LST 121 – https://www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/160121.htm
(Former) Website of the Preservation Project – https://web.archive.org/web/20191222165321/http://tugpegasus.org/index.htm
Tug Jupiter, Socony #14 – http://philashipguild.org/
Tugster posts on the Pegasus – https://tugster.wordpress.com/category/pegasus/
Waterfront Museum (LV #79) – https://waterfrontmuseum.org/