Back to news

Terral Christens M/V Amy T

Years ago when Terral RiverService was looking for a shipyard to build its first new boat, Johnny Martin had specific ideas on what he wanted.

By Capt. Richard Eberhardt

Years ago when Terral RiverService was looking for a shipyard to build its first new boat, Johnny Martin had specific ideas on what he wanted.

Martin, who is now marine superintendent, said he wanted a river boat, not a canal boat. The Red River in central Louisiana really rolls during high water, and he wanted a boat with big rudders to be able to handle the current. He went into shipyards with his designs for barn-door-sized rudders.

“Build me a boat around these rudders,” Martin said. But he got excuses. The big rudders wouldn’t work because…. Excuses seemed endless. So he kept looking.

Martin approached Tim Hovas of Greenville, Miss. Hovas said he could build the boat and got the contract. But he did not have a shipyard. So he got two backers, formed NewSouth Marine Construction Inc., and went to work.

Although he is an entertaining speaker, Hovas is clearly a builder who much prefers to have grease under his fingernails than a microphone in his hand. During a recent christening ceremony he even asked his wife Becky if she had something to say, speaking for him.

“No thank you, not in public,” she said, bringing a roar of laughter in approval. The response was in keeping with the light atmosphere of the morning, one of the first almost cool days after a long, hot summer.

But take Tim Hovas on the side and he expounds on why his river boat design is different. It’s more than just the rudders. He built the bow with a V shape, not the traditional rounded barge-like entry of a canaler. The cant of the hull funnels water to the wheels and cuts down on cavitation dramatically, even when backing, because water flows so well under the hull, Hovas explained.

The hull is overbuilt because there are rocks along the shoreline of the Red River. At times the Red River will overtop locks. It can be hard on a hull if the pilot ever gets out of shape.

“We took a gamble with a new company and it paid off,” Martin said of the first contract with Hovas. “The boats handle Red River currents remarkably well. They’re fast and maneuverable. They’re built to dog down and designed to jump dikes.”

Terral RiverService christened its sixth Hovas-built boat, the Amy T, on September 29 at the Port of Alexandria, La. Amy is the wife of Danny Terral, chief financial officer. Terral RiverService is the largest marine operator on the Red River in terms of pet coke, and also handles aggregates, sand, fertilizer and other commodities. All six of the new-build boats in Terral RiverService’s fleet of 13 were built by Hovas.

With the barn-door rudders and V-bow, Terral RiverService boats frequently pass tows on the Mississippi River and handle the maximum number of barges allowed during Red River rises, Martin said. For safety, he said he will cut back on the number of barges in a tow when the river is really rolling.

The Amy T was scheduled to enter service soon after the christening, working for Savage Services of Houston, on a contract to move a six-pack loaded with pet coke and limestone for the new $1 billion multi-fuel power plant, Madison 3, near Boyce, La. Pet coke is a byproduct from refining petroleum.

CLECO Power LLC specified that the plant would have the capability to use multiple fuels, including the inexpensive pet coke. Limestone is consumed in the emission control process directly in the plant boilers. When the plant is running at its full capacity, it will require up to 30 barges each week. The Amy T will be the fourth Terral boat on the contract.

Bill Fontenot, group vice president for CLECO, said the plant will require 1.5 million tons of pet coke and a half million tons of limestone each year.

“Fuel costs are a big part of electric generation,” Fontenot said. “Pet coke is typically a low-cost alternative and that saves our customers money on their electric bills.”

In late 2008,Terral RiverService began hauling pet coke from Exxon, Valero and Marathon refineries on the Mississippi River and limestone from Vulcan Materials. The trip through the Old River Lock at Mile 304 on the Lower Mississippi River, up the Red River to Mile 106, takes about seven days for a round trip, including offloading at the power plant, explained Gabe Gattle, project manager.

Two locks have to be negotiated at Miles 44 and 74, in addition to the lock at the Old River Control Structure where the Red River meets the Mississippi River.

Gabe is the son of Tom Gattle, the chief executive officer and cofounder of Terral RiverService, and Edna Gattle, the daughter of cofounder John C. Terral.

Even before all the guests left the barbecue under the Port of Alexandria’s main shed, the Amy T had to move a barge from one dock to another. With the V-bow, there was not the bow wave or wake of a traditional canal boat as the Amy T approached the dock light boat.

Backing the barge down the Red River, there was no cavitation, just as Martin said.

Boat Specs

The Amy T is the third boat in the series, which includes the Johnny M and Christy T. It is 92 by 30 by 10 feet and boasts Caterpillar 3508 Tier II diesels providing a total of 2,000 hp. at 1,600 rpm. Thompson Power of Memphis supplied the engines.

Power is through Twin Disc 5321 reduction gears with shaft brakes and a ratio of 5.96:1. Sewart Supply supplied the gear boxes that turn the Sound 82- by 56-inch wheels. To handle the stress of shaft brakes, seven-inch tail shafts were specified with NCB sleeves and Simplex mechanical seals from Dale’s Welding.

Tankage is 25,000 gallons of fuel, 12,000 gallons of fresh water, and 8,000 gallons each of lube oil and gear oil. Schuyler fenders protect the hull and Fernstrum Gridcoolers cool the machinery.

Donovan Marine supplied the triplex-over-hydraulic Skipper steering system for the two main rudders and four flanking rudders. Auxiliary power is supplied by two 99 kw. John Deere generators from Engines Inc. Gemini Marine Electronics furnished the electronic package featuring two Furuno FR8062 radars with four-foot arrays.

On hand for the christening were Capt. Marshall Ramey, pilot Billy Bradley and deckhands Dustin Taylor and Shaun Duhe. During the christening ceremony, Martin presented the ship’s Bible to Capt. Ramey.