Tug Profiles – M. Moran

A few months back, I made a post on the tug Luna and Venus, of the Boston Towboat Company, dubbed Historic Tugs I. The intention was to highlight museum vessels and whatnot with historic documentation and photos. To change that a bit, I am going to start a new series covering just tugs of the 1930’s-1970’s, including both new and repowered boats, using several styles of propulsion. This first tug profiled, will be the M. Moran.

Not much has to be said about Moran Towing, one of the oldest and well known tugboat companies in the world, founded in 1860 by Irish immigrant, Michael Moran. Moran Towing is a well established company, using a vast fleet of tugs, ranging from small 80′ direct reversing Canal tugs, to large, WWII surplus ocean going 165′ tugs, many of which were on charter from the US Navy. Fast forward to 1960: These were all single screw tugs, never exceeding much more then about 2000HP. Moran Towing had a long history of working with TAMS Inc., and later the General Motors Marine Design Section under naval architects Richard Cook and later Joe Hack.

In the era, just about every tug was considered “Ocean Going” (a scary thought..), however in reality only the larger, WWII era tugs really were just that, with the rest being glorified harbor and coastal tugs. Joe Hack would design Moran a 120′ tug, with a 31′ beam, and an 18’9″ depth. A new first for Moran was also introduced – twin screw propulsion.

Click for larger – CDED Drawing, collection of VDD

The tug was named the M. Moran, after the founder of Moran Towing’s Michael Moran. She would be the 7th tug named for him. The M. Moran was designed for an 11,000 mile range, or anywhere in the world – holding a capacity of 75,000 gallons of fuel. The M. Moran was built in Texas, by Gulfport Shipbuilding.

Click for larger – CDED Drawing, collection of VDD. I acquired these original drawings several years ago, they are several feet long! Thanks to Jay for scanning them.

The M. Moran had a rather unorthodox layout, using two split levels underneath the wheelhouse, giving her a rather odd, low profile appearance, but affording a massive amount of interior space. 9 full staterooms, two of which were dubbed a radio room, and a sick bay. A large central galley was located over the engine room – thus she lacked any actual upper engine room, also known as a fiddley. Behind the galley was a space for a 75HP Almon-Johnson towing machine.

Diesel Times – Collection of J. Boggess

You guessed it – the M. Moran was Diesel-Electric, powered by a pair of Cleveland Diesel, 1750HP 16-278A engines, with Allis-Chalmers main generators – all WWII surplus equipment, giving her a rating of 3,500HP. The engines were factory rebuilt, and were originally installed in US Navy Landing Ship LSM-529 (engine #55810), and LSM-324 (engine #55284). Ironically the other engine from LSM-324 would also go to Moran, re-powering the steam tug Michael Moran. The tug had a pair of Detroit Diesel 6-71’s for generators, as well as a piggyback shaft generator belt driven on top of each main generator. The tug had a pair of 9′ 10″ wheels, and a rated bollard pull of 95,000lbs.

Diesel Times – Collection of J. Boggess

The wheelhouse of the M. Moran featured American Engineering electric-hydraulic steering system, and the same Lakeshore throttle stands used by Cleveland for a number of years, of course modified for twin screw. A Sperry gyro, and radar rounded out the interior – pretty spartan, even for its time. While the maneuverability of Diesel-Electric is well known, an interesting feature of the M. Moran – being twin screw, was the cross-compatibility. The tug could run on only one engine, and power both propulsion motors when running around lite tug, somewhat of a throwback to the Destroyer-Escorts of WWII (where the propulsion motors in the tug originated), where various combinations of engines could power certain groups of motors.

Diesel Times, 10/1961 – Collection of J. Boggess

The M. Moran was placed in service on 9/27/1961, and her very first trip, just a week later – would take her all the way to Pusan, South Korea, towing the 30,000kW generating barge Resistance, a WWII LST converted into a powerplant. The M. Moran was well covered in Cleveland Diesel’s Diesel Times newsletter Diesel Times, as well as several issues of Moran Towing’s own newsletter, Tow Line.

Moran Towing Publicity Photo
Moran Towing Publicity Photo
Robert Lewis Collection

By the late 1960’s the M. Moran would gain a large upper wheelhouse. She would spend many years running around the Gulf area towing large project cargo, as well as the occasional foreign tow. The M. Moran was briefly renamed as the Port Arthur for a brief time in the early 1970’s, likely operating under a charter.

Robert Lewis Collection

Moran would go on to order a 2nd tug, to the same design as the M. Moran, named the Esther Moran. The Esther would be built in New York, by Jakobson Shipbuilding. At the same time, Jakobson also built the Patricia and Kerry Moran, which used the same hull design, however it was shortened 12′ with the tug being setup for harbor work, thus lacking the towing machine and split levels. These three tugs would be the last new tugs powered by Cleveland 278A engines. Cleveland was rolled into Electro-Motive in late 1961.

Robert Lewis Collection

Both the M. Moran and the Esther were not Cleveland powered very long. Both tugs would be repowered with EMD 16-645E engines with air clutches by the end of the 1960’s, giving them a new rating of 6,300HP – a massive amount of power at the time. Joe Hack would revisit the split level design with a pair of tugs for Gulfcoast Transit, the Katherine Clewis and Sarah Hays.

Will Van Dorp Photo

In 2000, Moran sold both the M. Moran and Esther Moran to Canada’s McKeil Marine. The M. Moran became the Salvager, and the Esther as the Salvor. The Salvager became the Wilfred Seymour in 2004, later being shortened to Wilf Seymour. Both tugs operate in the Great Lakes, and both would be converted into Articulated Tug-Barge combinations, with the Wilf getting a Bludworth coupler, and the Salvor a JAK system. The Salvor was laid up in 2018, and the Wilf is still in service. 10/2021 update: McKeil has scrapped the Salvor in Hamilton, Ontario.

Will Van Dorp Photo
Painting by Carl G. Evers

Noted maritime artist Carl G. Evers would do several paintings of the M. Moran, including one of her in Korea. Several of Carl’s paintings have graced the cover of Moran’s Tow Line.

More on the M. Moran and Esther Moran:

Note – Yes, I know the caption text is not centered under each photo. It is a glitch in WordPress that I have yet to figure out..

Another WWII Survivor

In 1940, Moran Towing would order a 121’ tug, designed by Tams Inc., Naval Architects.   The tug would be a decent sized ocean tug for its day (very small by today’s standards), named the “Edmond J. Moran”, after the nephew of Moran Towing’s then president Eugene F. Moran.    

The “Edmond J. Moran” was built by Pennsylvania Shipyards, in Beaumont, Texas, with hull number 231 and was delivered in late 1940 to Moran.    The tug was powered by engines supplied by Cleveland Diesel, who worked very closely with Tams Inc.   The Diesel Electric tug had the first pair of production Cleveland 12-278 engines (NOT 278A engines), rated at 950HP/750RPM.  Each engine drove a generator, which in turn powered a pair of electric motors that fed into a double input Farrell -Birmingham reduction gear, with a single output.  

Cleveland Diesel publicity photo of the new “Edmond J. Moran”

Edmond J. Moran took over Moran Towing as president in 1941, but it was short lived.   With the onset of WWII, Edmond re-enlisted, and Eugene would return as interim president.    During the war, Edmond would become a lieutenant commander in the Navy reserve.  Later on, Edmond would wind up assembling a fleet of tugs that would help lead the charge in the invasion of Normandy.    While Edmond J. Moran was doing this, the tug named for him was also doing war work.   While the “Edmond J. Moran” was not outright requisitioned for the war, the tug was on a government charter.   

Interior layout of the “Edmond J. Moran”. The tug had room for a crew of 18 spread throughout 7 rooms, a pair of heads, a large central galley complete with walk in ice reefer and ice maker, and a large towing machine located inside, in the rear portion of the deckhouse. Diagram from Cleveland Diesel booklet “Diesel Electric Vessels Powered by Cleveland Diesel”.

During the war, the “Edmond J. Moran” had one hell of a record.   She would log over 100,000 miles of service, literally all over the globe.  The tug would tow dredges through the Panama Canal, rescue British sailors from a raft at sea, tow various torpedo victims including one specific incident: The tug was towing a British ship to the yard that was torpedoed.   There were 91 people onboard.    The ship under tow, wound up being attacked again by a German U boat.   The tug, under Captain Hugo Kroll, would spend the next several hours playing chicken with the sub, while picking up the survivors.   All 91 people were picked up by the tug and would ultimately make it to shore.   The tug only had basic armor, a pair of 40mm guns, and the ability to drop a handful of depth charges after 1942. 

The war exploits of the tug were well covered in an article published in Popular Science Monthly, September 1944 issue, which was reprinted by Cleveland Diesel in the December 1946 issue of Diesel Times, the company newsletter.

1940’s Cleveland Diesel two page ad featuring the “Edmond J. Moran”.

After the war, Edmond J. Moran would return to the states (after being promoted to Rear Admiral for his services at Normandy) and resume running Moran Towing in 1946, and became Chairman in 1964.   He would retire in 1984, and ultimately passed away at age 96, in 1993. 

The “Edmond J. Moran”, after returning from her war service, would join the Moran fleet and work as one of their main ocean tugs alongside a handful of former Army LT tugs for some years.  The Edmond would live out her final days for Moran in Portland Maine, docking ships, now with a lowered stack and wheelhouse. 

“Barbara Andrie” in Muskegon, Michigan.

In 1976,  Beltema Dock & Dredge bought the tug from Moran and bought her up to the Great Lakes.   Before entering service, they had renowned Naval Architect Joe Hack and his firm Marine Design Inc., redesign and update the tug.    Included was an all new wheelhouse and captains cabin,  as well as a repower with a streamlined stack.   Out came the Clevelands and electric drive, and a new EMD 16-567C and clutch package went in.  The tug was then renamed the “Barbara Andrie”.   Beltema would become Canonie Transportation in 1981, and ultimately Andrie, Inc. in 1988.   The tugs main work has been moving an asphalt barge throughout the Great Lakes.  

“Barbara Andrie” laid up in Muskegon, Michigan. She was repowered again in 2002 with an EMD 16-645.

In 2015 the “Barbara Andrie” was removed from doing barge work, and semi-retired.   The tug currently lives in Andrie’s yard in Muskegon, and does winter ice breaking work and the occasional assist job or ship tow.  

Unfortunately back lit, but a photo I am happy to have. The tug behind, the “Rebecca Lynn”, was also designed by Joe Hack and Marine Design Inc.

Moran Towing Newsletter “Towline” documenting Edmond J. Moran

Great Lakes Tug & Workboats page on the “Barbara Andrie”

1/2023 update – All things must come to an end, the Barbara was recently towed to Chicago to be scrapped.