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Tacoma-built tug hitching a ride to Japan on heavy-lift ship

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Feb. 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
February 17, 2012 3:55 pm

A Navy tugboat built by Tacoma’s J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Co. will begin its journey next week to a U.S. base in Japan not under its own power, but on the deck of another ship.

The YT-806 Puyallup, a harbor assist tugboat constructed at Martinac’s Thea Foss Waterway shipyard, will be lifted out of the water by two cranes aboard the heavy-lift ship Palembang and secured to that ship’s deck for the ride across the Pacific.

The Puyallup is named in honor of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The 90-foot-long, 38-foot-wide, 3,600-horsepower tug will join a sister tug at the Navy’s Yokosuka Naval Base at the entrance to Tokyo Bay.

The tug, designed for ship assist work in sheltered harbors, has neither the range nor the handling characteristics for an easy transit across the Pacific under its own power.

The Palembang is a 435-foot-long ship designed to carry boats and machinery too large or too awkward to fit aboard a conventional ship. The ship was build in 2010 in China for its Danish owners, K/S Combi-Lift. The Palembang, named after an Indonesian port city, and its sister ships have carried such outsized objects as large harbor cranes, chemical plant and refinery processing equipment, container straddle carrier and passenger catamarans from the factories where they were built to their final destinations.

Heavy lift ship Palembang

Heavy-lift ship Palembang
The ship is equipped with two cranes that will allow it to lift the 500-ton tug out of the water and swing it onto cradles on its deck.

The lift ship’s schedule is still uncertain. The Palembang was originally scheduled to arrive at the Port of Tacoma’s Olympic Terminal on Tuesday, but now the ship may not arrive until as late as Friday, said port officials.

One more Martinac tug, the Menominee, may also head to Japan aboard another ship later this year, said shipyard officials.

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