hawser, line and wire: happy 50th!

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2013/02/20

Some tugs are named after rivers. Some after seas, some after trees. Some are named after American Indian tribes.


But the CG has a class of tugs that wins the award for best names: the 65-foot Small Harbor Tug (WYTL).
Named after things normal people call “rope”, and things found on a boat that interact with the “rope,” or, in one case, what normal people call “droop” of a rope, to those who love tugs, these names are little, one-word love poems, odes to the small harbor working tug.

The WYTLs were built between 1962 and 1967, and were employed only on the east coast, from Maine to Virginia. Originally a class of 15 tugs built by different shipyards, 11 are still in service:

  • BOLLARD (WYTL 65614)  New Haven, CT
  • BRIDLE (WYTL 65607)  Southwest Harbor, ME
  • CAPSTAN (WYTL 65601)  Philadelphia, PA
  • CHOCK (WYTL 65602)  Portsmouth VA
  • CLEAT (WYTL 65615)  Philadelphia, PA
  • HAWSER (WYTL 65610)  Bayonne, NJ
  • LINE (WYTL 65611)  Bayonne, NJ
  • PENDANT (WYTL 65608)  Boston, MA
  • SHACKLE (WYTL 65609)  South Portland, ME
  • TACKLE (WYTL 65604)  Rockland, ME
  • WIRE (WYTL 65612)  Saugerties, NY

BITT  (WYTL 65613)  was decommissioned on 4 October 1982, now  R/V Clifford A. Barnes
SWIVEL  (WYTL 65603) , still SWIVEL at Governor’s Island
TOWLINE  (WYTL 65605) perhaps for sale, and
CATENARY  (WYTL 65606), now Growler


And YOU are invited to the 50th birthday celebration of  Hawser (17 Jan 1963), Line (21 Feb 1963), and Wire (19 Mar 1963):

“1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013: the three tugs will meet at the Walkway over the Hudson and steam north to Saugerties. A Coast Guard spokesperson will be available at the walkway and there will be a photo opportunity there to capture the tugs together on the Hudson River.” USCG Media Advisor

According to Hudsonian’s  & Tugster’s photos, all three have expanded the cabins aft to enclose the stack. So the drawing above is incorrect. Do not use for navigation.
Like one to take home? look here.

Length: 65 ft
Beam: 16 ft
Displacement: 72 tons
Power Plant: Upgrading to
500 HP

The Naval Institute Guide To The Ships And Aircraft Of the U.S. Fleet, Norman Polmar

13 Responses

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  1. R said, on 2013/02/20 at 23:04

    The Bitt lives on as the R/V Clifford A. Barnes at the Univ. of Washington. She usually is moored at the UW Oceanography pier on Portage Bay if anybody is in Seattle and wants to take a look.

  2. Baydog said, on 2013/02/20 at 23:39

    I’ll be there in spirit, at work in body….

    • tugster said, on 2013/02/21 at 00:01

      i’d be watching them come down river too, but . . . gotta work

  3. Buck said, on 2013/02/21 at 10:09

    Oh, so close… No ice on the Hudson up in Albany so they haven’t had much work this year.

  4. Fenn said, on 2013/02/21 at 11:33

    So, what makes a boat important enough to be “decommissioned”? Is it registered in some way, regulated in some way, used for a specific purpose…??? Because privately owned, recreational boats aren’t decommissioned, right?

  5. Mage Bailey said, on 2013/02/21 at 14:52

    The Coast Guard is a military organization, Fenn. Military commission and decommission their ships.

    This is utterly charming…thank you. Hope you will be standing freezing on the walkway with camera in hand. 🙂

  6. bluebrightly said, on 2013/02/21 at 15:14

    As always, I love your artwork. It, and your writing, have a delightful spirit that encompasses both solid information and a sense of humor. How cool is it that the Bitt is here in Seattle? Crazy right? I probably used to see the Hawser and Line from my Staten Is window but I don’t remember ID’ing them with my binocs. But I can wander over to Portage Bay one of these days and see the Bitt. I know next to nothing about boats and ships but I really like the old tugs. For you, I just uploaded pics of a couple of very old tugs –

  7. Mage Bailey said, on 2013/02/22 at 09:57

    That last piece get’s better and better.
    Books. Those on my blog are at the thrift store. That batch had few boat books. You would love my personal collection tho. I do have some entertaining volumes. So what do your ship books look like

  8. Buck said, on 2013/02/22 at 13:05

    Check out the Coast Guard’s photos:

    I think they copied Bowsprite!

  9. Bill Whalen said, on 2013/02/23 at 06:06

    I just had to find out about the USCG “racing stripe”… was designed by Raymond Loewy — the same guy who brought you, well, just about every cool design from 1920 to 1960.

  10. Reid Sprague (@rbss4) said, on 2013/02/24 at 09:08

    Beautiful – and entirely *suitable for navigation* of the spirit of maritime life you capture so well.

  11. Michael said, on 2013/03/04 at 12:39

    Twas a fine post about line (hawsers, string) that first hooked me on Tugster:

    I like me a good coil of rope!

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