By Nelson Spencer Jr.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has a reputation for being a strong conservative, and that is one of the reason’s Walter Blessey, chairman and chief executive officer of Blessey Marine Services, likes him. Strong family values and pro-business initiatives were on top of the list of mentioned attributes. Blessey made those feelings public on February 10 when he named his company’s newest towboat after him.
But conservative doesn’t necessarily mean boring, as some might stereotype. Graham had fun with the audience. When Capt. Scott Wilson, the new vessel’s master, told the group that he had discovered what would be his lifelong career—piloting a towboat on the inland waterways—at a bar, Graham, referring to his career as a politician, would later reply, “Me too!”
Walter Blessey, sporting a patriotic stars and stripes tie, and Ted Verret, owner of Verret Shipyard, praised Graham for his efforts, saying how grateful they are for his ardent support of the industry. And during his presentation, Graham recognized the tremendous value of the inland waterways to the economy and to well-paying jobs.
The new boat is crewed by Capt. Wilson, pilot Shane Blanchard, tankermen Levi Malone and Kevin Mesecke, and deckhand Jeremiah Sasso.
The New Addition
Built by Verret Shipyard the mv. Lindsey Graham is a sister to the mv. Roger Wicker, named after the senator from Mississippi (WJ, April 29, 2013). It is 85 by 30 by 10-1/2 feet, with twin Cummins KTA 28 M engines generating 2,000 hp. Service power is provided by Cummins model 6B engines with 85 kw. Stamford generators. Karl Senner supplied Reintjes gears with a 6:1 reduction ratio. Propellers, at 74 by 56 inches, are Hung Shen.
Custom Hydraulics provided the electric-over-hydraulic steering system. Electronics were supplied by Wheelhouse Electronics, featuring among other things a Rose Point electronic chart. Baton Rouge Marine Electrical Service supplied the alarm system, while Hiller Fire Systems designed and installed the CO2 fire suppression equipment.
Fendering was provided by Schuyler Maritime and Patterson winches are on deck.
The towboat can carry 30,000 gallons of fuel, 450 gallons of lube oil and 16,800 gallons of water.
One of the unique features of the mv. Lindsey Graham is the rendering of the South Carolina Gamecock that hangs in the lounge. Sen. Graham graduated from the University of South Carolina, both undergraduate and law school, and the gamecock is the school’s logo. It derives from a South Carolina war hero who “fought like a gamecock” during the American Revolution. Verret Shipyard’s Paul Taylor said he got it from an art studio in Baton Rouge.
Another nuance is the real brick floor that was custom-laid in the lounge and galley area. There is a Blessey logo carved into the woodwork in the galley.
As is the case with all Verret boats, the cabinetry is made and installed entirely in-house. “We don’t subcontract anything,” Taylor said. The Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring in the pilothouse, for example, was hand cut, assembled and installed by shipyard personnel.
“The boat is handling great, as Verret boats always do,” said Dustyn Grenon, vice president-operations for Blessey.
Graham performed the ceremonial bottle-breaking after the boat’s blessing and the presentation of the ship’s Bibles to the crew.Lindsey Graham Christening