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Archive for February 12th, 2012

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s Maritime Sunday again, here at your Newtown Pentacle, a weekly post which focuses in on and examines some aspect of NY Harbor- or the Sixth Borough as our friends from Tugster call it.

As many of you know, your humble narrator is quite the enthusiast for such matters, and serves as a Steering Committee member for the Working Harbor Committee. This role and set of interests often puts me in a position to witness and photograph interesting circumstance around the harbor, which these “Maritime Sunday” postings endeavor to share.

Today’s spotlight is cast upon the Moran Towing Tug “Kimberly Turecamo”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are quite a few tugs with the surname Turecamo that are operated by Moran Towing, the result of a merger between two towing companies in the age of corporate expansion and conglomeration. The founder of Turecamo Coastal was born on an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea called Isola Lipari, part of the Aeolian Archipelago that straddles the distance between Mount Vesuvius and Mount Etna in fabled Italy. Lipari has a long and sordid history, a story which stretches back in time to the Estruscans, Greeks, and the Romans. The Island was once conquered by Arab Pirates, after all.

This of course, has nothing to do with the Tugboat Kimberly Turecamo, its just nice to know where certain folks hail from. The guy from Cake Boss on the TLC Channel, and Natalie Imbruglia- their dads come from Isola Lipari as well.


Turecamo Coastal and Harbor Towing Corporation was foundeded by Bartholdi Turecamo, who immigrated from Isola Lipari, a small island between the northern coast of Sicily and the southern tip of Italy. As an immigrant Turecamo found work in road construction around New York.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Kimberly Turecamo, the tug, is from Louisiana. She also was one of the ships which assisted in the evacuation of lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001. One of the great stories from that day, it’s only the persistent modesty of those sailors who managed to move more than a quarter million people out of harms way that prevents this story from pervading the popular imagination.

Sailors are a different breed, and immodest only amongst themselves.


It is reported that as many as 300,000 people were evacuated from lower Manhattan during an eight hour period following the attacks. When the evacuation first began, Moran had 11 tugs on the scene, each taking as many as 100 people to designated sites around the port, and to New Jersey. “After the initial surge of evacuation, we went down to about five boats on the scene, still working around the clock, and after four or five days we still had two boats working there at the end,” said Keyes. “As soon as the people were taken off, the boats were used for moving emergency crews, equipment and supplies.”

Moran tugs logged a total of 256 hours during the operation, according to Keyes. The tug Turecamo Boys was on the scene longest, with 84 hours logged, followed by Marie J. Turecamo with 51 hours and Margaret Moran with 49 hours. Other tugs involved with the evacuation were Nancy Moran, Brendan Turecamo, Kathleen Turecamo, Diana Moran, Kimberly Turecamo, Miriam Moran, Turecamo Girls and Catherine Turecamo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The iconic white “M” on their black stacks, coupled with the scarlet hull and white detailing, make Moran tugs the easiest craft to spot in NY Harbor. As mentioned in the past, there is just something iconic about them, and if you were to ask someone to describe a tugboat blindly- they would probably craft an image of something not unlike the Kimberly Turecamo.


Built in 1980, by McDermott Shipyard of Morgan City, Louisiana (hull #255) as the Rebecca P.

The tug was later acquired by Turecamo Maritime where she was renamed as the Kimberly Turecamo .

In 1998, Turecamo Maritime was acquired by the Moran Towing Corporation where the tug retained her name.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Kimberly Turecamo is at work in the shot above, guiding a fuel tanker through the narrow Kill Van Kull waterway. The Kill Van Kull at it’s narrowest point, between New Jersey and Staten Island, is a scant thousand feet wide and might boast a depth of merely 40-45 feet above the soft bottom. The cargo ships which come here in pursuit of trade are ocean going vessels whose titan engines would provide a lack of subtlety in handing such conditions.

The Kill Van Kull is a tidal straight, incidentally.


Moran commenced operations in 1860 when founder Michael Moran opened a towing brokerage, Moran Towing and Transportation Company, in New York Harbor. The company was transformed from a brokerage into an owner-operator of tugboats in 1863, when it purchased a one-half interest in the tugboat Ida Miller for $2,700.

At the time, the Harbor was alive with ships – many of them still sail-powered – and Moran’s enterprise soon grew into a fleet of tugboats. It was Michael Moran himself who painted the first white “M” on a Moran tugboat stack, reportedly around 1880.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting bit of trivia about the harbor of New York is that its natural depth is a mere 17 feet, but was deepened by the actions of dredging to 24 feet before the end of the 19th century. The large ships of modernity utilize shipping channels which are deeper than the surrounding area, in particular the Ambrose Channel- a 1914 construct.

Ambrose leads the way in from a spectacular natural formation, a depression on the continental shelf called the New York Bight.

The Bight is clove by the terrifying depths of the Hudson Canyon.

from wikipedia

The western edge of Newark Bay was originally shallow tidal wetlands covering approximately 12 square miles (31 km2). In 1910s the City of Newark began excavating an angled shipping channel in the northeastern quadrant of the wetland which formed the basis of Port Newark. Work on the channel and terminal facilities on its north side accelerated during World War I, when the federal government took control of Port Newark. During the war there were close to 25,000 troops stationed at the Newark Bay Shipyard.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 12, 2012 at 12:15 am

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