Nimbler next-gen Tiger tugs keep Hawaiian commerce moving

Professional Mariner|American Tugboat Review 2020

Nimbler next-gen Tiger tugs keep Hawaiian commerce moving
TIGER 21 & 22 | P&R Water Taxi, Honolulu
Casey Conley

P&R Water Taxi built its first Tiger tugboat in 90 days in 2002 after winning a U.S. Navy ship-assist contract in Pearl Harbor. The Honolulu-based company built 10 more over the next nine years as its Navy contracts and ship-assist work took off.

Almost two decades later, the original Tiger design has evolved into a nimbler ship-assist platform optimized for Hawaii’s commercial ports. P&R built Tiger 21 and Tiger 22 at its shipyard in Kewalo Basin, located just a few miles west of Waikiki Beach. Company founder and owner Charlie Pires collaborated with Stoddard Marine Design of Hilo, Hawaii, on the design.

Tiger 21 and Tiger 22 are essentially next-generation versions of the original 94-foot Tiger tugs Pires and Stoddard developed in 2002. The two series have plenty in common, including the twin Caterpillar 3516 main engines. There are also differences: The new tugs are about 20 feet shorter than their predecessors, and they lack the stern winches and off-ship firefighting equipment that came standard on tugs working in Pearl Harbor.

Capt. Curtis Iaukea, who operates Tiger 21, said the vessels are powerful and agile, particularly when moving side to side. “It’s great for assist work because you can stay at the 90,” he said, referring to keeping the tug’s bow at a 90-degree angle relative to a ship’s hull. “You can hold that position longer.”

Hawaii’s ship pilots are glad to have Tiger 21 and Tiger 22. Tom Heberle, president of the Hawaii Pilots Association, called them a welcome addition to Hawaii’s fleet of ship-assist tugboats.

“With their compact length and excellent maneuverability, these here,” Heberle said. “The addition of these two brand-new z-drive tugs reaffirms P&M’s commitment to station modern tractor tugs in all of Hawaii’s commercial harbors.”

Pires is a native Hawaiian who earned his first mariner’s license at age 17. He founded P&R in 1978, and its name harkens back to the company’s original business running crew boats back and forth from Hawaiian oil refineries. The company still operates crew and supply boats in and around Hawaii.

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American Tugboat Review 2020