Contract awarded to build four new canal maintenance vessels
√ First 2 tugboats to be delivered in 2025 – bicentennial year of Erie Canal; 2 additional tugs to be manufactured and delivered in 2027
The New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corp. announced a strategic investment in the future of the New York State Canal system through the procurement of four new maintenance marine vessels. The new tugboats will be operated by Canal Corp. personnel and positioned along the 524-mile canal system to support the continued operation and maintenance of the statewide navigable waterway.
The first two tugboats are scheduled to be delivered in 2025, the bicentennial year of the Erie Canal, with two additional tugs planned for delivery in 2027.
“With more than 200 communities along its banks, an investment in New York state’s canal system is an investment in the upstate economy,” New York Power Authority and Canal Corp. Trustee and Syracuse Area Canal Recreationist Bea Gonzalez said. “The Canal Corp.’s workforce that maintains this historic and vital water transportation route and recreational asset will leverage these new tugboats to ensure our children and grandchildren can enjoy all of the benefits the canal system offers for many decades to come.”
New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “Once placed into service, these new maintenance vessels will give our dedicated personnel the opportunity to complete their tasks safely while operating aboard modern tugboats equipped with the latest marine technology. As stewards of the canal system, we know how important the iconic waterway is to so many communities. These new work boats will help ensure the canals continue to support economic development, community building, and expanded recreational uses across our great state for years to come.”
Staffed by Canal Corp. tugboat captains and floating plant personnel, the new steel inland tugs, each 64.5-feet long, will support operations required to maintain navigation along the canal system. Some of this work includes buoy placement and retrieval, movement of spoils in hopper scows, transporting of dredge pipe, and mobilizing hydraulic and mechanical dredge units. In addition, the new tugs will have ice-breaking capabilities built into them such as thicker steel and tighter spaced framing in the bow.
New York State Canal Corp. Director Brian U. Stratton said, “These four new tugboats are a significant investment into the Canal Corp.’s maintenance fleet that routinely ply the waters of upstate New York. For nearly two centuries the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca canals have been economic engines – supporting livelihoods and commerce while spurring the growth of villages, towns and cities – and this investment ensures our workforce can efficiently maintain the canal’s navigable waters for the next generation of users.”
In 2017, the Canal Corp. contracted with AENY, located in Northport, to perform a vessel assessment of its floating equipment. Based on the assessment, a long-term plan was developed to replace the aging fleet. The construction of the four new vessels will be in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard Sub-Chapter M regulations, and a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection will be obtained.
When delivered, the new tugs will be placed into service alongside the Tug Syracuse, a 1934 tugboat built by the state of New York that has been the workhorse of the maintenance fleet since its launch. The new tugboats also will join the Canal Corp.’s Harriet Tubman, one of 10 smaller push tugboats that have been added to the fleet over the past five years.
The board of trustees for the New York Power Authority, which owns and operates the New York State Canal Corp., as a subsidiary, awarded the contract to Blount Builders Inc. of Warren, Rhode Island, at its July 27 meeting. In 2020, Blount Builders successfully delivered the Breaker II, a tugboat owned and operated by the New York Power Authority that supports its generation of electricity and champions ice-breaking activity in the winter months along the Niagara River.
New York’s canal system includes four historic canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca. Spanning 524 miles, the waterway links the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain.