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YTB - Harbor Tug

Since the mid-1980s, the Navy has been systematically decommissioning its aging YTB fleet at its bases around the world and replacing the YTBs with time-charter contracts with commercial tug boat companies. Competition among tug boat operators for these contracts has been intense.

From 01 January 1998 to 31 December 1998, MSC has demonstrated the effectiveness of relying on the commercial tug industry to support the Fleets for harbor craft services, in lieu of the continued use of Navy owned and operated harbor craft. This feat was accomplished with the innovative use of performance specifications, commercial procurement practices, and communication with the harbor craft industry to ensure our solicitations and contracts did not impose unnecessary administrative burdens while still meeting the customer's needs.

MSC successfully issued new contracts to privatize the tug services previously performed by Navy YTBs (Yard Tug Boats) in the ports of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Apra, Guam, and Norfolk, Virginia. These harbor craft provide critical support to the warfighters by assisting vessel docking/undocking, providing firefighting and salvage services, and providing personnel transfer platforms.

A failure to smoothly provide harbor tug services during peacetime or wartime could critically impair the operational effectiveness of the port. The contracts are set up to handle current peacetime harbor traffic volumes, but similar contracts have shown this approach capable of effectively handling increased volumes due to contingencies and adverse weather. Additionally, the contracts provide the Navy with services that will not soon be outdated, and allow for use of emergent commercial technologies.

These contracts obtain the best value to the Government by providing a more effective tug with a greater capability, and at a lower cost. Additionally, the contracts conform very closely to their commercial counterparts. They contain maritime clauses which are tailored to protect the Government while still recognizing commercial practices (e.g. insurance, crewing). Instead of complex contracts, the documents are easy to use and display a flexibility not commonly seen in the Government procurement world.

The contracts, negotiated in an average of five months, allow for some notable innovations, including:

  • Allowing contractors to bid for different periods of performance to reduce cost and increase competition;
  • Allowing the Navy to charter tugs but permit the vessels to be released for commercial work, thus off-setting the Navy's costs;
  • Allowing the Navy to obtain the services of state-of-the art, highly maneuverable tugs which enhances safety and readiness; Expanding the use of best value source selection; and
  • Representing a close partnership with industry to perform market research (including participation in industry-wide workboat conferences), identify process improvements, and eliminate unnecessary specifications.

By requiring the commercial firm to provide fully operational tugs, including logistics, maintenance, and management/crewing support, these contracts allow the Navy to redistribute approximately 126 military personnel previously assigned to the Navy tugs. This increases readiness and is estimated to save at least $40 million over the next five years. Additional savings are anticipated as a result of right-sizing the integrated logistics chain that supported the Navy tugs.

The accomplishments of this team, and its willingness to listen to the contractor's ideas, gained wide-spread attention in the industry and is one of the reasons that WorkBoat magazine placed this initiative in its list of the top ten Industry news-stories of 1998.

The primary incentives for this initiative are cost reduction and improved operational readiness. By providing cost-effective contracts and increased readiness capabilities, the Privatization Initiative Team has provided the Fleets with increased capability and an overall cost reduction to the Government. Additionally, these contracts free Navy billets formerly required for YTB operations for redistribution elsewhere in the Fleets. Significant savings in manpower and operating dollars during 1998 have been achieved. Estimated savings (not including maintenance costs) for Pearl Harbor, Guam, and Norfolk for the five-year life of the contracts are illustrated below. Pearl Harbor $7.5 Million Guam $6.0 Million Norfolk $22.0 Million.

Increased readiness and safety are also hallmarks of the privatization efforts during the past year. This is demonstrated by replacing, on average, three older Navy tugs with two modern, commercial vessels. These newer vessels are similar to those demanded by strict environmental states, such as California and Washington, for vessel-escort services to tank-vessels entering their waters. The contract vessels have greater power, fire-fighting capability, maneuverability, and faster response time than the Navy tugs they are replacing.

On December 1, 1998, the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command confirmed that MORAN had been awarded a contact to provide tractor tugs to replace the Navy's yard tug boats (YTB's) at its Norfolk Naval Station and at the Naval Amphibious Base at Little Creek, Virginia. For MORAN, obtaining the Norfolk contract was important, not only because Norfolk is the largest naval base in the world, but also because MORAN has a long history of providing tug boat services to the Navy, in general, and Norfolk in particular. A significant aspect of the terms of the Navy's Request for Proposal (RFP) for this coveted contract required that MORAN be able to supply the Navy with eight low-profile, highly maneuverable tractor tugs, with twin 360 degree azimuthing propulsion units within a relatively narrow time horizon. Because of its prior experience in providing services to the Navy at Norfolk, MORAN felt that it could readily provide the skilled people and expertise required by the contract, but providing the equipment in the required time frame represented a significant challenge.

YTB Large Yard Tug

As built in 1940, Hoga, designated as a YT-146 (Yard Tug), YTB-146 (Large Yard Tug), and YTM-146 (Medium Yard Tug) by the US Navy, is a typical US Navy yard tug of the period. This type of vessel inspired the design of the common merchant tugboat type of the post-war period currently in use in the United States. Built entirely of welded steel, Hoga is 99.7 feet in length overall, with a 25.6-foot breadth and a 10.6-foot draft. Hoga displaces 350 tons.[1] The hull, originally painted "Navy grey," is now painted gray and red; the superstructure, originally gray, is now white. The vessel's name has been changed; Hoga is now City of Oakland.

The vessel was originally equipped with twin 250-hp electric pump motors which provided 2,000 gallons per minute of water at 152 psi to three monitors, and to manifolds for 2-3/4- and 1-1/2-inch fire hose on the deck, which she still retains. In the summer of 1948 the vessel's firefighting capacity was increased by the addition of three afterdeck mounted 8-cylinder, 225-hp Buda diesel engines and United Iron Works 6-inch two-stage centrifugal pumps. The pumps, which also provided 2,000 gallons per minute at 150 psi, increased the total pumping capacity of the fireboat to 10,000 gpm. Four additional monitors were added, one of which was later removed, to make the present total of six.

The vessel is Diesel-electric powered. The original twin Diesel 650-hp McIntosh and Seymour engines power twin 515-hp Westinghouse electric motors, which through a common reduction gear power a single screw at 160 rpm to develop a top speed of 14 knots. The engines can be switched to drive the propulsion motors or the original electric pumps below decks, a feature common to fireboats. The vessel also has two original 410-kw direct current generators.

The arrangement of the machinery reflects a common engineering technique for a Diesel-electric tugboat of the period. For Diesel-electric drive the arrangement of machinery is simple. One or two Diesels coupled to generators and exciters with necessary auxiliaries, starting air bottles, etc., are arranged at the forward end of the engine room, while at the aft end is situated the main propelling motor, switchboard, with emergency controls, and the principal ship auxiliaries such as bilge and ballast pumps and fire pump.

The description of a typical Diesel-electric tugboat fits Hoga, though she was more powerful than the standard merchant tug of the time. The vessel was built with a single welded steel deckhouse with an elevated steel pilothouse, which remains without modification. Flanged steel pipes from the pumps below deck run up the sides and along the deck of the superstructure and provide water to one of the original monitors atop the pilothouse and a monitor mounted on a projecting platform at the forward end of the superstructure in 1948. The upper deck and pilothouse roof are surrounded by a simple pipe rail. The ship's bell, enscribed "USS Hoga, 1940," hangs at the front of the pilothouse. The superstructure also supportts an original steel pole mast with running lights and a single steel funnel. Aft on deck is the original steel pole platform turret tower supporting the an original monitor. Additional monitors, added in 1948, are mounted on the deck aft.

YTB 760 Natick Class

The YTB 760 Class is a single screw, 2000 HP, diesel propelled, large harbor tug 109 foot by 29 foot. It is designed to maneuver ships, tow barges and submarines in close quarters such as channel operation, harbors, coastal waters, mooring docking or undocking. YTB's are also equipped with a 2000 GPM fire pump and AFFF fire fighting equipment necessary to provide waterfront or harbor fire fighting service. They are capable of extended ocean towing being equipped with a full galley and dual gender berthing.

While a YTB displaced a mere 350 tons when fully loaded, its 2,000-horsepower two diesel engines and crew of 10 to 12 sailors could assist in nudging a 97,000-ton NIMITZ-class nuclear aircraft carrier out to sea or help to bring it pierside.

In 1997 Trident Refit Facility, (TRF) Kings Bay, completed a major overhaul on Navy yard tug PETALESHARO (YTB 832) at the Georgia submarine base. A submarine repair facility, TRF's mission is to provide quality industrial and logistics support for the incremental overhaul, modernization and repair of Trident submarines, and to provide global submarine supply support. TRF has increased its level of "non-Trident" repair, however, completing overhauls on various types of ships in the last year, including a guided missile cruiser, a torpedo retriever and a three-month, history making Selected Restricted Availability on destroyer USS O'BANNON. The Navy selected TRF as repair sit for YTB 832 because of the submarine repair facility's growing reputation as a leader in quality regional maintenance. One of three tugs in excess in Mayport, Fla., YTB 832 was sent to TRF for overhaul because the overhaul could be completed in one-third the time it would require in a private shipyard and for a fraction of the costs. The tug was transported to La Maddalena, Italy, to support the submarine tender USS SIMON LAKE. The TRF team completed more than 50,000 man hours in the tug overal, replacing the tug's navigational system, updating the shore power system, and creating a new Material Maintenance Management system and Preventive Maintenance System deck. They overhauled all the tug's tanks and engines and added an accommodation ladder. TRF saved the Navy $800,000 in fleet maintenance funds by doing the repairs at Kings Bay.

The Navy is continually looking for ways to contend with this reality. One way is through shrinking the size of the fleet and that relates to fewer ships and fewer ports. Another target of downsizing is Port Operations, home to most Service Craft and boats. The bulk of the manpower at Port Operations is military. This duty provides the sailors with a sea-shore rotation. In the past this source of manpower was an inexpensive source of labor while providing the sailor with a job related duty station while in port waiting their next sea duty assignment. However as the number of ships and bases decrease so does the number of military billets to man them. What was once an inexpensive source of labor has become a limited and costly resource.

Port Operations functions can be outsourced retaining Navy personnel for afloat commands. This reduces Navy cost and utilizes military billets for the specialized critical missions that Navy personnel are trained to accomplish. One example, is the Navy harbor tug (YTB). Its recommended crew is (4)CPO, and (8)enlisted. Its commercial counterpart crew size is three or four. To outsource or privatize this service reduces Navy manpower with out sacrificing mission ability. It is also true that some civilian jobs are affected by outsourcing or privatizing port operations. In certain situations alternatives to Outsourcing have been successfully implemented. Example, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard which has utilized Navy YTB's with civilian crews. However it is important to point out that this is a unique situation. Utilization at PSNSY is not the ops tempo of Naval Station Norfolk, therefore no comparison is intended.



Detail Specification for Building Harbor tug, Large YTB-760 Class, dated with Mod 1 dated 16 June 1960, Mod 2 dated 22 July 1960, Mod 3 dated 20 Sept 1960, Mod 4 dated 28 Sept 1960 and Mod 5 dated 5 Oct 1962

Regulatory Bodies Referenced - ABS



US Public Health


Length Overall


Length between perpendiculars


Beam max., molded


Displacement, full load

356 tons


Propulsion Engine

2 Diesel Generators

2 Air Compressors

Steam boiler (YTB 809 and above do not have a boiler)


Anchor windlass

Diesel fire pump

Fire and general service pump

Bilge pump

Electro-hydraulic steering

Fresh water pressure set


Construction - Steel

Towing Bitts - one forward, one aft (designed for 100,000 pounds pull)

Masts - Navigating light mast and radar mast hinged for lowering


Berths - Two staterooms, each with single berth, four double pipe berths in each crews quarters compartment. Craft has been modified for dual gender berthing.

Galley/Mess - One electric range, 25 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer, water cooler

Sanitary - One shower stall, one lavatory, one water closet in crews WR WC: Lavatory in each stateroom


Life saving - 2-25 man inflatable lifeboats; life preservers for entire crew; two life ring buoys


One fire and general service pump, motor driven, 2000 GPM at 85 psi serves port and starboard fire stations in engine room plus main deck fire stations. Pump also serves as emergency sea water circulating pump.

One diesel driven fire pump 2000 GPM at 125 psi with power take off serves two 1000 GPM capacity fire monitors for waterfront fire service. Two foam tanks (750 gallon each). Three eductor type foam proportioners fed by 25 HP motor driven foam liquid pump.


Electro-hydraulic vertical capstan windlass capable of Handling 750 pound at 20 FPM with wildcat and capstan head.

Drainage/Ballast - One bilge pump, 100 psi at 25 psi used for bilge drainage and also ballasting. Fire and general service pump serves as standby.


Propulsion - One stainless steel propeller, Right hand, 4 bladed, 12 foot diameter, driven by one diesel propulsion engine, 2000 HP with reverse reduction gear, air operated clutch.

Propulsion Control - Single lever pneumatic control located port and starboard in pilot house, propeller RPM indicator in pilot house.


One rudder operated by electro-hydraulic steering system provides for steering at helm as well as aft steering station.

Emergency steering provided on main deck via tiller arm, rope and tackle to after capstan.


Heating - One oil fired boiler rated at 15 psi provides steam heat for space heating, serves steam heat to duct heaters, unit heater and convection heaters. YTB-814 and up have electric heaters and no boiler due to the installation of 440 vAC Generators.

Ventilation - Mechanical exhaust for sanitary space, mechanical supply for Engine room, staterooms, and galley/mess area.

Fresh Water - Pressure set with 42 gallon pressure tank draws water from Fresh Water Storage Tanks.

CHT System with a 60 gallon holding tank.

Diesel Oil - Fuel oil transfer pump, motor operated, 90 gpm at 25 psi draws diesel oil from storage tanks serves diesel engines and boiler.

Lube Oil - 500 gallon lube oil storage tank, 300 gallon used lube oil storage tank. Hand Lube oil pump provided for pumping out sumps.

Air Pressure - Two motor driven air cooled air compressors, 45 cfm at 250 psi discharge pressure serves prop engine starting, clutch, prop engine pneumatic control system air whistle, sea chests, ship service air.

Capstan - One electro-hydraulic capstan 9000 pounds at 40 FPM located aft on main deck handles towing cable.


Generator - Two diesel driven 60 kw, 3 phase, 60 cycle, 4 wire, 120/208 volt generators. Generators can be operated in parallel. YTB-814 and up, Generators are 440 vAC.

24 Volt Service - provided by batteries to serve running and navigating lights, emergency radio, general alarm via rectifier

12 Volt Service - provided by batteries to serve auxiliary diesel engines starting (generators and fire pump)

Shore - Watertight shore connection box capable of receiving 200 amps, 208 volt AC shore power to switchboard


Interior Communication - Sound powered telephone system serves following locations: pilot house, aft (stern) station, engine room, emergency station. General alarm provided.


One radio transceiver 2-12 mc

one radio transceiver 225-400 mc

one entertainment receiver

one surface search radar


Special Navigation - one magnetic compass, one gyro compass

Shop (Special Tools) - Two trolley hoists, one 3 ton over main engine; one 1-1/2 ton over generator engines

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 13:01:31 ZULU