FOR MCALLISTER, EVERY JOB MATTERS…AND DEMANDS A RELIABLE ENGINE

FOR MCALLISTER, EVERY JOB MATTERS…AND DEMANDS A RELIABLE ENGINE

DOCKING THE USNS COMFORT WAS ANOTHER DAY ON THE JOB

The American Civil War was raging when Captain James “Whiskers” McAllister launched his company in 1864 with a single vessel. One hundred and fifty-six years later, McAllister Towing and Transportation found itself in the midst of another battle — the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 30, 2020, four McAllister tugboats, all powered by Cat® engines, escorted the USNS Comfort hospital ship into New York Harbor. It wasn’t the first time the New York-based, family-owned company had turned to Cat engines for a critical maneuver. McAllister has relied on Cat power since the 1960s, and several of its 50-plus vessels are still powered by Cat marine engines that date back to that decade.

 

Responsiveness and power matter

Tugboats, which help larger ships maneuver in tight spaces and make small, precise turns to dock safely, need engines that can react quickly to changes in conditions.

“If we’re docking a ship and it starts to move in the wrong direction, we can’t wait 30 seconds or a minute for the engine to power up,” says Marty Costa, McAllister’s engineering manager. “Cat engines have the power and responsiveness we need. In fact, the first time the pilots on the Capt. Brian A. McAllister told us to give it full power, they weren’t prepared for how much the engines had and told us, ‘Whoa, not that much power!’”

One of the company’s newest vessels, the Capt. Brian A. McAllister is among five McAllister tugboats powered by Cat engines that meet U.S. EPA Tier 4 Final emission standards. These Cat engines use a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) aftertreatment system and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to reduce NOx emissions to extremely low levels. Other engine manufacturers chose a different path to meet Tier 4 Final regulations, but Costa is pleased with the Caterpillar solution.

“The engines we’ve seen without SCR are very heavy, very big and very slow,” he says. “We haven’t had any trouble with the Cat engines or with DEF supply. They’re cleaner and they get better fuel economy. Any issues we had at the beginning, Caterpillar and the dealer were quick to fix.”

 

Dealer support makes the difference

That type of responsiveness from McAllister’s primary Cat dealer, Foley Inc., and the rest of the Cat dealer network is a big reason the company continues to choose Cat engines.

“We have boats up and down the East Coast, and no matter where we are, we can get service,” Costa says. “If there’s a problem, they can have a technician out whenever we need them. We don’t have extra boats sitting on the back burner — if we have two boats in a port, they both have to be working.”

Proactive maintenance is key to keeping McAllister’s tugs on the water and operating reliably. The company handles service for older tugs itself and relies on the Cat dealer network for new vessel maintenance, engine rebuilds and the flexibility to tailor service around its tugboats’ specific needs.

“Caterpillar normally uses hours as the criteria for service intervals, but our tugs spend a lot of time operating at low RPMs, burning lots of fuel,” Costa says.

 

“Hour-based maintenance wasn’t the right fit for us, so Caterpillar and the dealer adjusted and now they use fuel burn as the criteria.”

 

Every job requires a reliable engine

Though the USNS Comfort docking put McAllister in the media spotlight, it was just another day’s work for one of the oldest, largest towing and transportation companies in the United States.

 

“Every job we do is an important job,” Costa says, “and you have to have a reliable engine to get it done.”

 

McAllister plans to keep getting it done with the help of Cat marine power.

McAllister tugboat
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The Capt. Brian A. McAllister tugboat escorts the USNS Comfort hospital ship into New York Harbor.

Cat® 3516E Tier 4 diesel engines.
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Capt. Brian A. McAllister is one of 5 McAllister tugs powered by Cat® 3516E Tier 4 diesel engines.

Images courtesy of McAllister Towing.
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Images courtesy of McAllister Towing.

McAllister tugboat
Cat® 3516E Tier 4 diesel engines.
Images courtesy of McAllister Towing.

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Go behind the scenes with the team that docked the USNS Comfort in New York Harbor

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Our product line doesn’t simply meet the latest emission standards — our Tier 4 Final engines exceed customers’ high expectations for reliability, durability, fuel consumption, ease of installation and simplicity of maintenance.

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