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West Coast-Based Centerline Logistics Picks Up Former Bouchard Transportation ATBs

Mike Schuler
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October 5, 2021

Seattle-headquartered Centerline Logistics has announced the acquisition of multiple petroleum Articulated Tug and Barge units (ATBs) previously owned by New York-based Bouchard Transportation.

Included in the acquisition is a 2016-built ATB, renamed Robin Marie and Joni Lee (believed to be the former Donna J. Bouchard and B. No. 272), which measures 628-feet-long, 91-foot beam and 47 feet of draft. With capacity of 260,000 barrels, the two vessels will become the largest and most advanced ATB units in Centerline’s fleet. Other details about the vessels included in the acquisition were not disclosed.

Centerline Logisitcs was founded in 1987 as Olympic Tug & Barge, operating as an oil transportation business focussing primarily on ship refueling and petroleum transport. Until 2020, it was operated as Harley Marine Services, but was re-branded under the name Centerline Logistics following a restructuring. Today, Centerline operates one to the country’s largest marine petroleum transportation fleets with operations on the East, Gulf and West Coasts including Hawaii and Alaska.

Centerline hasn’t yet disclosed the exact number of vessels included in sale, rather described the acquisition only as a “substantial ATB vessel fleet.”

ATBs are comparable in size small oil tankers but with benefits of traditional towing. With ATBs, the stern of the barge is built with a notch that is specially designed to provide the connection with the towing vessel. Combined, the articulated units offer better maneuverability and steering, providing for safer and more efficient operations compared to traditional barges.

“This broader acquisition reflects Centerline’s strong commitment to being a best-in-class national provider of safe marine petroleum transportation services. With the added vessels’ carrying capacity, operating capabilities, and safety systems we have greatly enhanced our ability to quickly and efficiently serve our growing markets,” said Centerline President and CEO Matt Godden. Godden took over the helm of Centerline in 2019 after previously serving as the company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer from 2015.

In addition to the ATBs, Centerline also announced the addition of “dozens” of new employees as part of its latest effort to enhance its position as a leading provider of marine petroleum transportation. In December 2020, the company announced the acquisition of Saltchuk Marine Services’ California ship refueling business, substantially growing its existing California bunkering operations through the addition of six bunker barges and associated customer contracts.

Today, Centerline operates a range of vessel types including harbor, inland coastal, and ocean tugs, as well as bunker barges, terminal barges and one container barge.

As we have reported, a substantial portion of Bouchard Transportation’s fleet of 26 tugs and 25 tank barges were put up for auction this past summer after the company filed for Chapter 11 in September 2020, capping off years of legal and regulatory compliance wrangling stemming from a 2017 deadly barge explosion in Corpus Christi, Texas. The winners of that auction, Los Angeles based hedge fund JMB Capital and Rose Cay Capital, each submitted winning bids on two separate groups of assets. Last we heard, however, those sales was still making their way through bankrupcty court.

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