The tug Puma, Providence, R.I.

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Photos by Michael Cevoli

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Like a lot of rock-solid workboats, the tug Puma has been around the block a few times. She was built in 1962 by the Diamond Manufacturing Co. in Savannah, Georgia, for Turecamo Maritime, of Staten Island, New York, and started work as the Jean Turecamo, later renamed Puma.

Over the last half-century, the twin-screw steel-hulled tug — a 92.5-footer with a 27-foot beam and a 12-foot draft — has changed ownership several times with industry consolidations, toting barges for the Massachusetts Towing Co., of Fall River, Massachusetts; the Providence Steamboat Co., of Providence, Rhode Island; and McAllister Towing and Transportation, of New York City, according to the authoritative www.tugboatinformation.com.

Once painted a distinctive forest green, Puma now works in red — the McAllister colors — and tows under the power of two Caterpillar diesels rated at 2,200 hp. She is based out of Providence, where in addition to assisting tankers and tugs-and-barges in the petroleum trade, the McAllister fleet works bulk cargoes at the municipal dock and coal at local utility plants, serves the Navy in Newport and assists car ships calling in the port of Davisville, Rhode Island.

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Early in her career, while still working for Turecamo Maritime, Puma was towing the barge Morania No. 310 off Point Judith, Rhode Island, when a short in the tug’s wiring started a fire that melted the sight tubes on her day fuel tanks, spilling fuel on the engine-room floor. The conflagration forced the tug’s crew onto the barge, causing a total loss of the tug and an opportunity for Massachusetts Towing Co. to acquire her, repair the damage and put her back in service under the name Puma.

Her builder, Diamond Manufacturing, was located on the Savannah River just upstream from downtown Savannah. The company built tugboats, barges, dredges, cranes and other marine equipment from 1954 to 1988. Designed by Merritt Demarest, Puma was Turecamo’s first twin-screw tugboat. McAllister acquired her in 2007 with the procurement of the Providence Steamboat Co. and its “green fleet.”

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October 2014 issue