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Posted 4/6/2016

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By Preston Chasteen


TULSA, Okla. – The Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently returned their maintenance tow boat, Mr. Pat, to service, after receiving major refurbishment upgrades at Ensley Engineers Yard in Memphis, Tennessee.

The four deck, 82 foot long vessel, facilitates the movement of a 150 foot barge, housing a crane used for major repairs of the five lock & dams on the Oklahoma side of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigations System.

In Oklahoma, the MKARNS is managed and maintained by the Tulsa District.

Refurbishment of Mr. Pat included two new engines boasting a combined 2,000 horsepower.

Each engine drives a five and a half inch shaft, 20 feet long, which propels a five blade, 66 inch prop.

“The boat performs really well now that the horsepower has been increased. Before the boat was always in a struggle, it was in a struggle just pushing itself around,” stated Capt. Kelly Youngblood.

The new electronically controlled engines replace the old air control system and offer a greater degree of responsiveness.

All engine diagnostics were upgraded to provide immediate data read-out, available for viewing on digital control panels.

The tow can hold 24,000 gallons of diesel fuel for operations, and at the rate of 1,700 rpm’s, can consume up to 40 gallons of fuel an hour, per engine. However, at idle, the fuel consumption rate can be as low as 3 gallons an hour.

Mr. Pat’s electrical systems are supported by two 105 kilowatt generators. One is used as a primary and one as a backup should the need arise.

Youngblood and a crew of four can sleep on the boat which provides the crew access to three bathrooms, two showers and a full kitchen.

Living amenities are supported with 2,500 gallons of fresh water divided amongst two 1,250 gallon water tanks.

“The only thing that stops us from working is a lot of wind and a lot of current,” said Youngblood.

In as recent as 2014, Oklahoma Department of Transportation reported that the Oklahoma portion of MKARNS supported waterborne commerce totaling 5.7 million tons of cargo with a value of $2.56 billion to the economy.

Mr. Pat and crew are an integral part of maintenance operations along the Tulsa District portion of this economically important inland water way.

The vessel is permanently housed out of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Terminal, near the navigation project office in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.

Youngblood and his crew aboard Mr. Pat not only support the five lock and dam systems in the Tulsa District from W.D. Mayo L&D 14, near Spiro, Oklahoma, to Newt Graham L&D 18, but also will dispatch to perform maintenance in other districts when needed.