YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The U.S. flagged, heavy-lift ship BBC Houston delivered U.S. Navy tugboat Seminole (YT 805) from Tacoma, Wash., to Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), Japan, April 8.
The new tugboat is part of a plan to upgrade CFAY tugboat operations.
The tugboats currently in use in Yokosuka are some of the few tugboats owned and operated by the U.S. Navy. The tugs have provided a long history of service moving ships forward-deployed to the area including USS George Washington (CVN 73), USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), USS John S McCain (DDG 56) and previous ships that have been decommissioned including USS Midway (CV 41) USS Independence (CV 62) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).
"We have five yard tugboats we use here in Yokosuka," said CFAY Port Operations Officer Lt. Cmdr. Michael Weatherford. "All five of those will be [decommissioned] over the next 18 months. We will be getting three new commercial grade tugboats."
The new 410-ton tugboat looks distinctively different from the current tugboats. It has a larger pilothouse with much larger windows and long exhaust ports that stick high above the deck of the ship. It also has new engines that provide double the amount of power from 2,000 to 4,000 horsepower.
"It gives us increased capability here," said Weatherford. "Currently, to get George Washington or Blue Ridge underway we have to order in commercial tugs, but now with these upgraded tugs we will be able to conduct these operations ourselves."
As the first of the new tugboats put into service in Yokosuka, it was given a distinctive name that both pays tribute to the previous tugboats and represents its increased capabilities.
"Originally when we got the contract for the new tugboat, they actually used the name 'Defiant' for the tug, but naval tradition is tugboats were named after [Native American] tribes," said Weatherford. "We took two of our tugboats that are going to be [decommissioned], which are named after [Native American] tribes that made up the Seminole nation. 'Seminole' means 'wild horse,' so with the new tug having 4,000 horsepower compared to 2,000 horsepower, we though it was a good name for this new tug."
Chief Machinist Mate DeWayne Johnson, CFAY Port Operations chief engineer, works with the current tugboats and is part of the team aboard the Seminole.
"The versatility of the new tug is the biggest gain," he said. "You'll never see a finer vessel in the Navy. I've never seen one look this good, and they built us one heck of a [boat]."
Seminole is already at work and will be joined by YT 806 about this time next year with the third tugboat joining the fleet further in the future. All together they will be part of the U.S. Navy's only totally military operated tugboat fleet and one that supports the forward-deployed naval forces on CFAY.
For more news from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, visit www.navy.mil/local/cfay/.