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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of NY Harbor’s towing companies whose craft are a delight to behold is DonJon Marine.

They operate a fleet of sky blue tugs whose capabilities range from canal and river tugs all the way up to a gargantuan oceanic tug which is called Atlantic Salvor.

Today, the focus is on DonJon’s Cheyenne, which is one of their smaller tugs. That’s her, moving past Wards Island and passing beneath the Hells Gate Bridge.


Founded in 1964 by Mr. J. Arnold Witte, Donjon’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Donjon Marine’s principal business activities were marine salvage, marine transportation, and related services. Today Donjon Marine is a true provider of multifaceted marine services. Donjon’s controlled expansion into related businesses such as dredging, ferrous and non-ferrous recycling and heavy lift services are a natural progression, paralleling our record of solid technical and cost-effective performance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cheyenne is older than I am, yet manages to get to work every day, unlike me.

DonJon serves as one of the integral components of New York Harbor’s system for moving recyclable commodities from curb to customer, and can often be spotted moving barges of metallic waste between DSNY collection points.

I first became aware of the company’s role in the process after spotting them at the SimsMetal Newtown Creek docks a few years ago.


Built in 1965, by Ira S. Bushey and Sons of Brooklyn, New York (hull #628) as the tug Glenwood for Red Star Towing.

In 1970, she was acquired by Spentonbush Towing where she was renamed as the Cheyenne

The tug was later acquired by Amerada Hess where she retained her name.

She was then acquired by Empire Harbor Marine where the tug retained her name. The company would later be renamed as Port Albany Ventures.

In 2009, Port Albany Ventures was acquired by the DonJon Marine Company of Hillside, New Jersey. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A dirty and necessary industry, recycling is nothing like you would imagine it to be. University professors, environmentalists, and politicians present an image of something akin to Santa’s Elves in crisp white uniforms working in an antiseptic factory isolated from population centers. The reality is that it is performed by oil streaked and smoke belching heavy machinery, consumes far more fuel than you would imagine, and that it is quite a dangerous occupation (also, the concentration and processing of these metals carries dark implications for groundwater and air quality in the localities which it takes place in).

Green jobs of the future indeed.

from wikipedia

The scrap industry contributed $65 billion in 2006 and is one of the few contributing positively to the U.S. balance of trade, exporting $15.7 billion in scrap commodities in 2006. This imbalance of trade has resulted in rising scrap prices during 2007 and 2008 within the United States. Scrap recycling also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserves energy and natural resources. For example, scrap recycling diverts 145,000,000 short tons (129,464,286 long tons; 131,541,787 t) of materials away from landfills. Recycled scrap is a raw material feedstock for 2 out of 3 pounds of steel made in the U.S., for 60% of the metals and alloys produced in the U.S., for more than 50% of the U.S. paper industry’s needs, and for 33% of U.S. aluminum. Recycled scrap helps keep air and water cleaner by removing potentially hazardous materials and keeping them out of landfills.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not meaning to sound negative on this otherwise essential service, it’s just that as certain highly placed municipal employees have advised me in the past- “Be careful which laws you ask for, as some things may come only at too great a cost”.

If it costs ten gallons of fuel to recycle and reuse something which it would have cost five gallons of fuel to pull out of the ground… what are we actually saving?

from wikipedia

The tugboat is one symbol of New York. Along with its more famous icons of Lady Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge, the sturdy little tugs, once all steam powered, working quietly in the harbor became a sight in the city.

The first hull was the paddler tug Rufus W. King of 1828.

New York Harbor at the confluence of the East River, Hudson River, and Atlantic Ocean is among the world’s largest natural harbors and was chosen in the 17th century as the site of New Amsterdam for its potential as a port. The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 to the upper Hudson River ensured that New York would be the center of trade for the Eastern Seaboard, and as a result, the city boomed. At the port’s peak in the period of 1900-1950, ships moved millions of tons of freight, immigrants, millionaires, and GI service men serving in wars.

Sheparding the traffic around the harbor were hundreds of tugs–over 700 steam tugs worked the harbor in 1929. Firms such as McAllister, and Moran Tugs came into the business. Cornelius Vanderbilt started his empire with a sailboat and went on to greatness with the New York Central Railroad, incidentally owning many tugs.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 8, 2012 at 12:15 am

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