The New York Times Reports on a Day in the Life of the Ellen McAllister Tugboat

State University of New York Maritime College


“You have to like the solitude and simplicity of tug life to stay with it,” reports The New York Times in an August 21, 2012, news story that offers a seldom-seen glimpse of life aboard a working tug boat in New York Harbor for the crew of the Ellen McAllister and a 22-year-old SUNY Maritime College summer intern, Cadet Radoslaw Sokolowski.  Chronicling the overnight hours on-board the distinctive, brightly-painted red McAllister tug, as the crew prepares to guide the Maersk Missouri, a 958-foot-long container ship out into open waters, the reader has a rare glimpse into the workday of a tug’s captain, crew and a young Cadet who may someday become a tug captain himself.

As the night wares on and the crew busies themselves with routine tasks, the time comes when all of the crew’s maritime training and skill comes into play.  The precise dance begins when the McAllister tug, dwarfed by the giant vessel in their charge, noses up to the Maersk container ship and begins to guide the vessel from the relatively calm waters of New York Harbor into the sea.  For this special breed of mariners, it’s another day at the office, a job well done and mission accomplished.

McAllister Tug guiding in TSES VI from another Summer Sea Term.

The McAllister family and SUNY Maritime College have a long history and share a common dedication to the maritime industry.  Many McAllister family members are SUNY Maritime alumni.

When Cadet Sokolowski returns to SUNY Maritime as classes begin week, and the new school-year starts, he will have learned valuable hands-on lessons about leadership, planning and decision making, all while gaining a first-hand understanding of the multi-million dollar towing industry, a vital maritime force in the New York City maritime region.  Cadet Sokolowski’s vessel that served as his floating classroom this summer, the Ellen McAllister, is only one of more than 70 tugboats that make up the McAllister Towing & Transportation fleet.  McAllister is one of the oldest and largest family-owned marine towing and transportation companies in the United States and traces its New York City roots back the days of its founder, Captain James McAllister.   In 1864, Captain McAllister, a recent immigrant from County Antrim, Ireland, began the company.  Over the past 148 years, it has grown to include offices not only in New York, but also in Portland, ME; Baltimore, MD; Wilmington, NC; Georgetown and Charleston, SC; Jacksonville and Port Everglades, FL and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  McAllister also owns and operates the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company that runs three passenger-car ferries, between Bridgeport, CT, and Port Jefferson, NY.

This fall, SUNY Maritime College’s annual Towing Forum will be held on Wednesday, October 17th.  The SUNY Maritime Towing Forum (a daylong event) has come to be one of the most vital towing industry events of the year and all are welcome. Admission is free.  To learn more about the October 17, 2012 SUNY Maritime College Towing Forum contact.

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