The barge had been laid up in Terminal Island for several years and needed a significant amount of work and prep to make the roughly 4,500 nautical mile transit.
Once awarded the job, Curtin Maritime dispatched the crew to Seattle, WA. to bring our tug the Karen C to Long Beach to perform the tow. The 1,100 nautical mile trip from Seattle to Long Beach took 6 days. Because the expectation was for the tug to depart Long Beach for Louisiana almost immediately upon arrival, our crews shoreside and on the tug worked diligently to ensure the vessel had all necessary supplies for the trip. Once the tug arrived in Long Beach, we were underway after two days at the dock loading fuel and stores.
In conjunction with the tug heading south for Long Beach from Seattle, our shipyard crew was commissioned by the customer to prepare the barge for the tow, and also to make modifications in accordance with the Panama Canal Authority rules. Our shipyard provided crane and forklift service, welders and fitters, tug service, and procurement services to ensure the barge would be ready to go when the tug arrived. Our shipyard crew finished ahead of schedule.
18 days after departing Long Beach, our tug arrived in Balboa, Panama. Due to major congestion at the canal, other tugs waited over two weeks to transit the canal. Our tug crew worked with our agents in Panama and the Canal Authority to find any way that we could get through sooner to help our customer meet their deadlines. We proposed pushing the barge ahead as opposed to alongside the tug or towing astern. While this had never been done before, the Canal Authority granted an exception and after only six days of standing by at the canal, we were able to transit through becoming the first ever tug to push a barge through the Panama Canal at night.
Our transit through the Canal and Port Fourchon went safely and without incident. We made up for some of the standby time at the canal by beating our originally intended ETA to Port Fourchon by over 24 hours. Once delivered in Port Fourchon, we handed the barge off to an inland towboat that would be taking the barge to Kentucky.