When performing ocean towing Hawaii is a key stop for many projects. The ocean tow was the key component to a SINKEX exercise that the United States Military was conducting in the vicinity of Guam, where the ship would be used as target practice and sunk by other US military assets.
The USS St. Louis was a decommissioned Charleston class Amphibious Cargo Ship measuring 576’ x 82’, with an estimated displacement of 11,000 tons. The tug Alice C is a Curtin Maritime ocean-going tug measuring 120’ x 31’, boasting 4,300 hp and 132,000 lbs of bollard pull.
After being awarded the ocean towing contract to rig and tow the ship to Guam, the Curtin Maritime team had to get to work to ensure they could meet the customer’s deadlines. Curtin Maritime immediately flew crew to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to board the St. Louis and to create a rigging and towing plan in full compliance with the US Navy Towing Manual’s Appendix H. This plan was then sent to Seattle where Curtin’s rigging vendors worked tirelessly to supply them with over 17 tons of chain, wire, and other rigging needed to load on the recent addition to the Curtin Maritime fleet tug Alice C before her departure for Hawaii.
Once loaded with rigging, fuel, and supplies- the Curtin Maritime tug Alice C departed Seattle and ran straight for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Upon arrival, the crew of Alice C began rigging the ship for the ocean tow. Within 48 hours of arrival, the six-man tug crew was able to complete initial rigging of the ship including the main and emergency tow bridles using only the tug’s power; as well as securing sea valves and rigging a high and low bilge alarm system in the ship’s cargo holds.
Alice C departed for this ocean towing project from Pearl Harbor with the USS St. Louis in tow on a calm Oahu Morning. 3,300 nautical miles and almost three weeks later, the tug Alice C broke tow in the open ocean setting the St. Louis adrift so that the Military could conduct their exercises. The mission was successful and safety was a priority on all accounts, and the Alice C made a pit stop in Apra Harbor, Guam for fresh groceries before returning to Hawaii.