Bisso Towboat adds new muscle on the Lower Mississippi
Professional Mariner|American Tugboat Review 2020
ANDREW S. | Bisso Towboat Co., Luling, La.
Brian Gauvin

In 1999, Bisso Towboat of Luling, La., introduced the first tractor tug on the Mississippi River with the delivery of Cecilia B. Slatten. With the delivery of Andrew S. in November 2019, Bisso has introduced the first Tier 4 tractor tug on the mighty river. At 6,008 hp, it’s also the most powerful.

Main Iron Works in Houma, La., the towing company’s go-to boatyard for nearly 30 years, built Andrew S. Bisso’s 13-boat fleet now includes eight z-drive tugs, boasting the largest tractor tug fleet on the inland waterways.

“The company is committed to z-drives,” Bisso Towboat President Scott Slatten said. “They have proven admirably suited to ship assist work in tight spots and in the river’s difficult currents. They’re also not as vulnerable to river debris as once thought.”

According to Slatten, shipping companies and ship pilots are driving the demand for ASD tractor tugs. Bisso’s eight ASD tugs give the company something of a competitive advantage, especially with quality ship owners and operators.

Andrew S. is based on a proven 100-by-38-foot design developed by naval architect Greg Castleman. Bisso acquired the design after the construction of Cecilia B. Slatten more than two decades ago.

The hull form has proven itself with each successive tugboat. Bisso and Main Iron Works have modified the design tug by tug, arriving at what is essentially an enhanced version of Alma S., built-in 2006.

Incremental improvements over the years include switching to Caterpillar engines, starting with Michael S. in 2010, and making connections for hoses, fuel, water and other fluids accessible outside the engine room. Keel-cooled air conditioning became standard in 2012 with delivery of William S.

“It’s extremely efficient,” said Capt. Jon Davis, Bisso’s vice president of training. “The forced air is constantly being cooled by the river water.” The system also reduces maintenance costs.

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