2007 - Tractor of the Year

Award Basis: Each year Towing Solutions recognizes a tractor design (Voith Schneider, Z-drive, ASD, etc) that, in our opinion, significantly improves:

  • that type of tractor’s overall performance,
  • the safety of the crew, or
  • the overall flexibility in meeting a specific port’s requirements.

As it is not our intention to give away the trade secrets that designers and operating companies have worked hard to develop, the salient features of the winning design will be described but pictures and/or line drawings will, in most cases, not be provided on this web site.  Parties interested in the design for their own application are encouraged to contact either the designer or operating company directly.

For 2007 Towing Solutions is proud to award our Tractor of the Year award to the 6,300 Hp. “Z-Techs” THOR and WESLEY A designed by Robert Allan Ltd.  These boats are owned and operated by Suderman and Young Towing Co. and Bay Houston Towing Co. of Houston, TX.

Tractor of the Year

When Suderman and Young Towing Co. and Bay Houston Towing Co. began to look forward, in 2003, at how to improve their G&H tug fleet they operate together in Texas, they recognized that their fleet would have to grow significantly.  They knew that the major expansion projects in the Port of Houston such as the completion of their widening and deepening of the ship channel to accommodate Suezmax tankers with 45’ of draft and the start of construction for the new Bayport Container Terminal would seriously push the capacity of their fleet. In addition, several new LNG Terminals were finalizing their permitting process which would potentially mean more potential business in several other Texas ports when these terminals came on line.

Very quickly they reached a decision to upgrade their fleet of 4,000 Hp boats by building a new class of “super tugs” each with over 6,000 Hp in order to be able to meet the power requirements of these larger and larger ships.  Further, recognizing the fact that the LNG industry desires their ships to be escorted and the Houston Pilots were establishing an escort system to ensure the safety of the largest tankers calling in Houston, they knew that this new tug class would have to have superior escorting capabilities.  To meet these requirements they turned to Robert Allan Ltd. of Vancouver, BC. who is well known in the industry for his innovative Z-drive and Voith Schneider escort tugs.

Robert Allan’s internationally acclaimed and highly innovative “Z-Tech” design was chosen to meet the needs of their Texas Ports.  To meet their power requirements, they asked Robert to design them a higher horsepower version of this design, one that would yield 75 metric tons of bollard pull.  With its extremely large escort keel and a beam of 39’ 04” the boat’s escorting capability is excellent.  Despite this large escort keel the tractor is very stable when running at hull speed.  Further, with its broad bow and fendering system, the pressure applied to a ship, even at full power, is remarkably low when compared to other tugs of this power.  To date, six of these superior boats have been ordered.  Towing Solutions Inc. therefore awards this our Tractor of the Year Award for 2007 for to the G&H Z-Techs for establishing a significantly higher standard for Z-Drive vessels in power, maneuverability, fendering, and escort capability.

Foss elected to build the boat as small as reasonably possible to give the pilots the small highly maneuverable boat that they want for narrow slips and tight quarters, while substantially reducing their construction costs.

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