Pentagoet Is Part of MMA Curriculum
By John Hubbard
training ship State of Maine
returned to its homeport last week.
500-foot-long, 16,000-ton training vessel is Maine Maritime
Academy’s showpiece, but a ride on the tug Pentagoet gives a
visitor an intimate introduction to what the academy is all about.
Pentagoet tugboat Captain Tim Leach communicates with the
State of Maine during docking operations last week. Leach, who
is in charge of all waterfront activities at Maine Maritime
Academy, has worked as an instructor with the academy for 23
STAFF PHOTOS BY JOHN HUBBARD
Academy’s training ship, the State of Maine, sports a new
color, “Holland-America Blue” as it steams into Castine Harbor
last week on a return from the annual training cruise and
maintenance done in New York.
recently spent on board the tugboat showed observers what is
involved in small vessel management, an important part of
seafaring. A ship the size of the State of Maine cannot be docked
under its own power. It takes the skilled hand of a tugboat
operator and crew to manage that.
That’s where Tim
Leach, manager of the academy’s marine operations and waterfront
services, comes into the picture. Leach supervises everything that
happens at the dock except for the internal business of the State
Leach also is
captain of the Pentagoet, a 1,200 hp steel-hulled workboat. He
says the tug’s pulling ability effectively is 1,900 tons, thanks
to twin propellers driven by two 600-hp V-16 Detroit diesels whose
thrust is focused through culvert-like Kort nozzles.
Pentagoet is small, but on a recent exercise, Leach did not use
even half-throttle to nudge the big ship into port.
The Mack Point, a
larger ocean-going tug, pushed the bow section while the Pentagoet
took on the aft section of the training ship, working the ship
into place precisely enough so a gangway could be put in place for
crew and visitors.
The tug is part
of two courses taught at the academy: ship handling and workboat
students who are learning ship handling dynamics and the basics of
maneuvers get to work on the tugboat, Leach explained.
“We do docking
drills and work on boat handling,” he said. The experience may be
a student’s first in handling a workboat.
One of the first
things a visitor sees is Leach manipulating the controls of the
tug so that it “walks” sideways out from its berth at the MMA
dock. That is just one of the “tricks” that students at MMA learn.
A small vessel
operations course also involves work with the tugboat, Leach said.
communication between the State of Maine
and Pentagoet demanded some confirmation, often done by Leach
giving a short blast on the tug’s air horn.
At one point, the
black rubber tires used as a fender on the bow of the tug scuffed
the bigger ship, leaving black marks on the newly painted white
“State of Maine” letters. A student deckhand who immediately set
about cleaning the letters, got elaborate praise from Leach, who
said that it was rare for anyone to do anything without being
asked or ordered but that this particular student showed
Leach gave the
young man a “thumbs-up” sign through the windshield of the tug.
The Pentagoet is
capable of doing small salvage and ocean towing and could serve as
a research vessel, Leach said, although it has not been used in
diving or oceanography.
The tug was built
in 1980 at the Gladdings and Hearns yard in Somerset, Mass.