CASE STUDY Commercial Marine

mtu helps SENESCO make the big push

Posted on November 28, 2016

One of the east coast’s premier maritime transportation companies chooses mtu exclusively to power its latest generation of ATB tugboats.




Rhode Island


Twin mtu 16V 4000 engines


Power and long-term dependability, with high load capacity

They have plenty of power and we know from experience that they’re extremely reliable— we’re getting between 33,000 and 35,000 hours on them before we have to overhaul them.

Chris Reinauer - director of special projects, Reinauer Transportation
North Kingstown, Rhode Island — Half a dozen burly shipyard workers are squinting up into the glare of a brilliant New England winter sky, watching an mtu 16V 4000 M60 engine fly. Well, perhaps not “fly” so much as levitate on the near horizon, dangling from the boom of a mammoth crane positioned about eight stories below the deck of a half-built tugboat. The engine begins to slowly descend and while the shipyard crews prepare to carefully bolt the big blue mtu to its new home in the port side engine bay of the Reinauer Twins, Chris Reinauer looks on like an expectant father. Minutes later, the engine meets its motor mounts with a satisfying clank. “Perfect fit!” he exclaims with a smile.
In its bare-metal, partially-completed stage, the boat doesn’t hint at what it will be in a few months: the newest, slickest, class-leading Articulating Tug-Barge (ATB) tugboat to bear Reinauer Transportation Companies’ red “R” logo. It’s also the latest example of a loyal business relationship between supplier and customer that stretches back through three generations of Reinauers—including Chris’s twin cousins for whom this tug is named.

88 years old and growing strong

From its headquarters in Staten Island, New York and division offices in East Boston, Massachusetts, Reinauer Transportation manages a fleet of tugboats, barges and specialpurpose industrial vessels that work the waters of the U.S. Atlantic coast from the Maine/ Canadian border southward to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico coastline. Founded in 1923 by Bert Reinauer, the company grew steadily through the post-WWII years and in the 1990s, wisely adapting its fleet to doublehulled barge and ATB tugboat designs, investments that paid off quickly in increased business. Today, Reinauer’s fleet of more than 30 double-hulled liquid cargo barges boasts an aggregate cargo capacity of over 2.5 million barrels for petroleum and chemical transportation.
Reinauer has grown both organically and via acquisition, including the 2006 purchase of fullservice shipbuilder and service yard SENESCO. The addition vaulted Reinauer into the big leagues of the maritime transportation industry as the company made the most of its new vertical integration status with even more innovative ATBs, barges and other vessels. Along the way, Reinauer also acquired Boston Towing & Transportation of East Boston, New England’s largest marine transportation company, thus expanding its reach and need for more tugs and barges to meet expanding customer demand.
Today, the company owns 75 vessels operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For most of the last two decades, the company’s diesel engines of choice for powering and repowering the tugboats in that fleet have been mtu and its legacy Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle engines.
Chris Reinauer says, “Every modern tug we’ve launched, including some that were repowered over the last few years, uses mtu engines, and before that, we had good experiences with Detroit Diesel 2-Cycle engines. We have a great relationship with (mtu marine sales manager) Jeff Sherman and Ken Houle at Atlantic Detroit Diesel-Allison, and we think mtu engines are the best fit for our newest ATBs.”
He continues, “The stresses on ATB engines are extreme. The tug locks into the bow of a barge and from a dead stop takes the engines to 100 percent load to get the barge moving. From that point and through the entire voyage, the engines run at 80- to 90-percent load.”

A year in the making

Watching engines “fly” on their way into a new tugboat at SENESCO is by now a familiar but still-exciting shipbuilding ritual for Chris, a selfdescribed “nuts-and-bolts guy” who, like many members of the Reinauer family, grew up in the family business. Chris, along with SENESCO vice president and general manager Mike Foster and V.P of operations Joe Bush, oversees the construction of every vessel.
Foster’s office on the edge of the wind-whipped shipyard is dominated by a 50" flatscreen closed-circuit monitor displaying alternating close-up views of the various departments that contribute to the 12 month construction process of an ATB vessel like the Reinauer Twins. “We have 220,000 square feet under roof on 26 acres here, and the building plan for a tug is highly modularized,” explains Foster. Each major component and/or subassembly of the tugboat is manufactured by SENESCO in separate but adjacent departments, each equipped with ultramodern fabrication technology and staffed by the skilled craftsmen needed to run it. For example, hull plates and other large vessel components are welded by a block-long computer-controlled Ogden Panel/Line Welder, reducing to just 10 minutes a formerly laborintensive operation that once took up to 30 hours.
Near the welding department, the cockpit subassembly of another ATB tugboat, the  B. Franklin Reinauer, named in honor of the company’s founder, is propped up on a jig and swarmed by workmen. Gesturing toward it, Chris says, “She’s going to be powered by twin MTUs, too.”
“We built our first ATB, the Nicole Lee, in 1989. The popularity of it exceeded our expectations, and we’ve continued to build more, each of them either powered originally or repowered with mtu engines,” he continues.

Time is money

In 2011, four ATBs have launched, each designed by Robert Hill of Ocean Barge Tug and Barge Engineering (Milford, MA) and powered by mtu 16V 4000 M60 engines, joining four existing mtu-powered Reinauer tugboats—JoAnne Reinauer, Kristy Ann Reinauer, Jill Reinauer and Matthew Tibbetts—that were repowered since 1997 with 8V and 12V 4000 engines.
“We have a great relationship with Atlantic, and have chosen the mtu engines because we think they’re the best fit for this particular hull. Reinauer was actually the first workboat customer to use the 16V 4000 engines when they were introduced back in 1997,” says Chris. He continues, “They have to be reliable, because in our business, time is money. With the 16V 4000s rated at 2,360 horsepower at 1,800 rpm, one of our 115-foot long ATBs will do about ten and a half knots pushing a 500-foot, 100,000-barrel barge. That tug won’t stop for up to 14 days for anything other than fuel, food and water.”