Forty Years of Tug and Barge Training

Tug and Barge program still running strong

Since 1983 Maine Maritime Academy has trained mariners for tug and barge operations. Admiral Edward Anthony “Ted” Rodgers, Superintendent of Maine Maritime Academy from 1964 through 1984, led the effort to develop the course. Tug and barge operating companies urged Rodgers to develop the course because Jones Act cargoes were moving to barge companies and away from smaller coastal vessels. Rodgers understood and supported changing the nautical program to include tug and barge operations. His actions to provide tug and barge training would be the first ever offered at a maritime academy. A search was then organized to find the right vessel and instructor for the historic addition of brown water training to blue water training.

The first challenge was to find a tug that could pass Coast Guard vessel inspection rules and meet the requirements for a training vessel. Multiple tugs were available, but none could pass inspection. After an extensive search, a Coast Guard-inspected tug was found and purchased. It was the Jekyll Isle, a tug built in 1980 by Gladding and Hearn in Summerset, Massachusetts, owned and operated by Captain Charles Dana Gibson. The Jekyll Isle’s home port was Tampa Bay, Florida. In 1983, arrangements were made for captains Jerry Cummings and Tim Leach to bring the vessel to its new home at MMA. The twin screw, kort nozzle, 1,200 hp tug, was nearly new with only 1,700 hours on the main engines. MMA renamed the tug Pentagoet after the original fort and settlement in Castine. Forty years later, the Pentagoet is still in service as an MMA training vessel for a variety of courses, including ship handling, workboat operations, and tug and barge operations. The Pentagoet has proven to be the absolute perfect size and power for this training.

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