VESSEL REVIEW | Charles Hughes – New pusher tug for Maryland’s Vane Brothers boasts improved performance and safety features

Photo: Vane Brothers

Chesapeake Shipbuilding of Salisbury, Maryland, recently handed over the final vessel in a series of four square-bow pusher tugs ordered by Vane Brothers based in nearby Baltimore.

The tug, the 20th such vessel to be built in Maryland for the Vane Brothers fleet, is named Charles Hughes after the late former chairman of the board of the company. This is also the second Vane Brothers vessel to be so named, the first one being a 1975-built pusher tug that was operated by the company between 1991 and 2019.

The newer Charles Hughes is a steel-hulled vessel boasting a length of 94 feet (28.6 metres), a beam of 34 feet (10.3 metres), a hull depth of 10 feet (three metres), a draught of 8.5 feet (2.5 metres), and a gross tonnage of 199. Chesapeake Shipbuilding also provided the design work, which was done in compliance with US Coast Guard Subchapter M safety regulations and in cooperation with owner Vane Brothers to ensure high levels of safety, comfort, and productivity as well as suitability for operation in shallow-draught inland waterways.

Photo: Allen Demske

A pair of Caterpillar 3512 US EPA Tier IV-compliant main engines that each produce 1,500 hp (1,118 kW) at 1,800 rpm drive Hung Shen five-bladed, stainless steel fixed-pitch propellers via Twin Disc MGX-5600 gears. This arrangement enables the tug to reach a free running speed of 10.5 knots.

The wheelhouse is fitted with electronic charting systems from Rose Point while the remainder of the navigation and communication electronics are from Simrad and Furuno. The wheelhouse also has an eye-level height of 35 feet (10.6 metres) to ensure improved forward visibility for the crew even as the tug is pushing barges.

The other equipment includes two Patterson 65-ton (58-tonne) winches, Fernstrum box coolers, and JonRie Intertech capstans fitted on the bow and stern.

Accommodations are available for seven crewmembers. The interiors also have eight independently operating heating and AC systems. In addition to ensuring improved comfort for the crew, this arrangement also improves the fire containment capability of the interior spaces.

Click here for more news and gear stories, feature articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on the tug and salvage sector.

Charles Hughes
Type of vessel: Pusher tug
Classification: US Coast Guard Subchapter M
Flag: USA
Owner: Vane Brothers, USA
Designer: Chesapeake Shipbuilding, USA
Builder: Chesapeake Shipbuilding, USA
Hull construction material: Steel
Length overall: 94 feet (28.6 metres)
Beam: 34 feet (10.3 metres)
Draught: 8.5 feet (2.5 metres)
Depth: 10 feet (3.0 metres)
Gross tonnage: 199
Main engines: 2 x Caterpillar 3512, each 1,500 hp (1,118 kW) at 1,800 rpm
Gearboxes: 2 x Twin Disc MGX-5600
Propulsion: 2 x Hung Shen fixed-pitch propellers
Maximum speed: 10.5 knots
Plotters: Rose Point
Other electronics: Simrad; Furuno
Winches: 2 x Patterson Manufacturing
Capstans: JonRie Intertech
Other equipment installed: Fernstrum box coolers; HVAC
Crew: 7

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