New Orleans’ nickname “The Big Easy” refers to the easy-going, laid back attitude of the city’s residents. However, at the Port of New Orleans, the moniker does not apply. The port is located at the center of the world’s busiest port system—Louisiana’s Lower Mississippi River. More than 33 million short tons of cargo, 50,000 barges and one million cruise passengers move through New Orleans every year. Handling the heavy traffic of vessels is a big job and certainly not easy. It’s up to New Orleans’ mighty tugboats to make it all possible.
E.N. Bisso, a major tugboat operator based in New Orleans, has recently christened and launched the Gladys B to expand its operations. E.N. Bisso provides ship assist and harbor docking services over five port jurisdictions on the Lower Mississippi River. Built by Signet Shipbuilding & Repair, with engines and service provided by MTU distributor Pacific Power Products, the 80-foot Gladys B joined E.N. Bisso’s tug fleet of 15 vessels in December 2016.
For a Port of Orleans tugboat, a powerful propulsion system is essential. It takes two or three tugboats to push mammoth container ships into position. The mighty Mississippi’s strong current adds another level of difficulty. Powered by two MTU 16V 4000 M64 engines, the Gladys B is ready, willing and able. The Series 4000 engines are rated at 2,681 bhp each at 1,800 rpm and are Tier 3 emissions certified.
Advanced technology and specialized engine design provides the maximum reliability that will keep Gladys B operating with greater uptime and reduced lifecycle costs. Mississippi River cargo vessels keep a tight schedule, and there is no time (or space on the river) to sit idle and wait for an escort. “A tugboat has to be available, 24/7, no questions asked. Uptime is the ultimate factor in a ship assist type operation,” says Jeff Sherman, commercial marine sales manager, MTU America. “The immediate torque and the power provided by the sequential turbocharging system of the MTU 16V 4000 M64 engines will provide abilities to the tug captain that he has not seen before.”
With twin 16-cylinder Series 4000 engines coupled with Rolls-Royce US 205 P20 FP azimuth stern drives, the Gladys B delivers unprecedented performance and agility. The tug is capable of turning 360 degrees at the same spot, and move forward while turned sideways. The versatility of the Gladys B comes in handy in New Orleans, where cargo vessels tie up at a two-mile long wharf (the world’s longest), or at bulkheads on the river.
For more than 60 years, E.N. Bisso tugboats have guided big ships on the Mississippi. With the addition of the powerful, sophisticated Gladys B, E.N. Bisso is ready for whatever comes around the bend.