Blue Marlin Blues

Blue Marlin carrying an oil rig
What links the US Cole, the Mary A. Whalen, the Exxon Valdez and the Blue Marlin?  

What related shipping spectacle was conducted in the Upper Bay last month?

Exxon Valdez (R) leaking oil in 1989
The Exxon Valdez spill spawned a powerful piece of regulation OPA 90 which, among other things, banned single-skinned vessels from moving fuel in US waters. 

This regulation would have phased out the Mary A. Whalen, if she hadn't gone out of business due to a scored crankshaft. 

A large collection of operable fuel moving equipment that WAS phased out by OPA 90 was recently sold by Reinauer Transportation to a Nigerian company. That company contracted Dutch-owned Dockwise to send their heavy lift ship the Blue Marlin to take away tugs and barges. It was the Blue Marlin brought the terrorist-damaged US Cole back from Africa.

Loading the vessels, a job planned and choreographed by the Dockwise team, became a 26-day saga of several failed attempts. The spectacle had harbor watchers glued to blogs, a tugcam, and their favorite telephoto lenses. Confused landlubbers ashore were overheard to say that the Blue Marlin appeared to be sinking. They received no help from the mainstream press which made no mention of the visit of this famous ship nor the engineering feats, and crises, running throughout the month of July.  

Reinauer cleverly sold the lot but washed their hands of the loading.  Miller's Launch, a new player in harbor towing, was assigned to load the tugs, McAllister Transportation the barges. (Thank you McAllister Transportation for allowing Carolina Salguero to ride and photograph from your tugs!) A Red Hook outfit was assigned to do the lashing of the barges

Reinauer had the Kristy Anne Reinauer outfitted with a tugcam to watch operations. 

The barges were staged in the Red Hook containerport all near the Mary Whalen, putting PortSide in the cat bird seat to follow the ops, in fact, at one point we were told we'd  have to move the Mary Whalen to make space for shifting fuel barges!

PortSide director Carolina Salguero got back into photojournalism gear and documented the saga. She recently joined colleagues Rick Spilman, Will Van Dorp (Tugster), Jonathan Atkin and Ed Fanuzzi at a Ship Lore & Model Club meeting in making a presentation on the story. Look for an upcoming PortSide TankerTalk that will present this story to the general public. For now, we offer you the following images by Salguero. Will Van Dorp compiled a chronology slideshow, but his narration at the TankerTalk is what will knit it all together (plus he adds some great overheard quotes that capture some colorfully misinformed speculation as to what is going on.) 

The goal was to get four of the tugs loaded near the house of the Blue Marlin, with one tug at the stern, and with all the barges laying athwartships in between.

McAllister Port Captain Pat Kinnier dispatches tugs that will move the Reinauer fuel barges on Load Attempt 1

Four of the loaded tugs on Load Attempt 2. This is the after end of the Blue Marlin house, at the stern is another tug, The Maverick, which lived up (or down) to its name on this job and was the SNAFU on Load Attempt 1 and participated in SNAFU on Load Attempt 2

Tug John Reinauer listing over as Load Attempt 2 goes south. At the stern of the Blue Marlin, the Maverick is also listing over.
The Blue Marlin is due back this week or next for another load of Reinauer equipment. The Coast Guard must be reading itself for more calls from the landside public that a boat is sinking in the harbor... 

Good luck to the crews working on this load attempt; and hats off to Reinauer for having only one vessel left for sale.  Their salesperson sure earned a bonus this year. 

11/16/11 update:  The Blue Marlin never returned. Harbor gossip says that this is because Dockwise had a hard time being paid by the Nigerian buyer of the vessels. This is unconfirmed at this time. 

The harbor grapevine also reports the following (also unconfirmed):

In 2011, the Reinauer Transportation Tugs Janice Ann Reinauer, Dean Reinauer, John Reinauer, and Curtis Reinauer, and Boston Towing and Transportation tug Maverick where acquired by Runner Marine Limited, a division of Capital Oil and Gas Industries limited of Lagos, Nigeria.

The tugs where renamed as follows:
Tug Maverick - Tug Alfa
Tug John Reinauer - Tug Bravo
Tug Janice Ann Reinauer - Tug Charly
Tug Dean Reinauer - Tug Delta
Tug Curtis Reinauer - Tug Echo