New State-of-the-Art, Environmentally-Friendly Towboat, Granite Point, Delivered to Tidewater Transportation and Terminals


Tidewater Transportation and Terminals marked delivery of the second of a series of three towboats, the Granite Point, on December 12, 2015. The vessel, built by Portland’s Vigor, follows towboat Crown Point, which began operations along the Columbia Snake River (CSR) in May 2015. Like the Crown Point, the Granite Point is a custom-built, environmentally-friendly towboat that was specifically designed by CT Marine, Naval Architects and Marine Engineers of Edgecomb, Maine, to serve Tidewater’s customers.


“Granite Point performed exactly as we wanted it to during its river trials earlier this month,” expresses Marc Schwartz, Maintenance & Engineering Manager at Tidewater. “We are ready for the Granite Point to team up with Tidewater’s current fleet of 16 towboats to provide our customers with the highest quality river transportation.”


Named Granite Point for the granite cliff in Washington, about 20 miles southwest of Pullman along the Snake River, the towboat was built to the same specifications as the Crown Point and the forthcoming sister vessel, the Ryan Point. Measuring 102 by 38 feet, with a depth at full load of 11 feet, the Granite Point stands out among other towboats along the river. The vessel offers a hexagonal wheelhouse with floor-to-ceiling windows on all six sides. The hexagonal design continues to the main deck, which consists of a galley with all the comforts of home, a media room, and a health and fitness facility.


“Tidewater understands the ability of our crewmembers to cope with operational risk factors, like frequent sleep disruptions and heavy workloads, depends on their level of endurance,” explains Bruce Reed, Chief Operations Officer and Vice President of Tidewater. “The responsibility for maintaining a high level of crew endurance rests with us. Therefore, all three towboats incorporate a comprehensive sound and vibration control package designed by Noise Control Engineers of Billerica, Massachusetts. The noise levels register at less than 60 decibels in the quarters during vessel operation, which is equivalent to the sound of an air conditioner.”


Brian Fletcher, Tidewater Port Captain who piloted the Granite Point through river trials, conveys, “When you are in the wheelhouse, which is three decks above the engines, you would really need to concentrate to hear the engines at all. You couldn’t ask for a quieter tug, nor a better tug in tight situations. It turns on a dime.”


CT Marine’s innovative towboat design on the Granite Point goes beyond the distinctive wheelhouse and mindful accommodations. Due to the unique challenges of maneuvering barges through swift-moving currents, high winds, and eight navigation locks along the CSR System, CT Marine designed an enhanced steering system utilizing four main steering and four flanking rudders. Couple the steering system with two Caterpillar 3516C Tier 3 engines, the design team was able to increase the margins of safety and efficiency.


“The Granite Point can ‘get up and go’,” describes Josh Nichols, Assistant Port Captain, “but there is an ease and steadiness to it.”


Tidewater and their collaborative partners spent a great deal of time conceiving and engineering the plans used for all three vessels – two years in all. Recently, WorkBoat Magazine and Marine Log, named Crown Point as one of the Best and Most Significant Work Boats of 2015; it has also been featured in multiple magazines, including the June 2015 cover of Pacific Maritime Magazine.


“The up-front work paid off,” says Bob Curcio, Tidewater CEO. “The vessels are fuel-efficient, ecologically-responsible, and are giving our Captains and crews exactly what they’d asked for.”


Corey Yraguen, Vigor Executive VP of Fabrication, states, “We are proud to have worked with Tidewater on Granite Point. Like its sister ship Crown Point, this vessel sets new standards for future towboat design. It will serve our community well for decades to come.” 


The christening of Granite Point will be in conjunction with its sister vessel, Ryan Point, in mid-spring.