Reinauer Transportation Companies

Another example of a family-owned marine company of long standing is Reinauer (formally known as Reinauer Transportation Companiess or RTC).  Bert Reinauer established the company in 1923. The company soon faced, and survived, the Great Depression.

In this area, the company is most known for RTC’s large fleet of large tugs and barges moving fuel.  The company grew and diversified over the years to include several fleets and multiple endeavors based in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  RTC (generally referred to as “Reinauer”) is based in NYC, and Boston Towing & Transporation (BTT) based where the name says. BTT is the largest New England-based marine transportation company

They run the SENESCO shipyard in Rhode Island, a marine construction firm in this port (Reicon) and one in Boston (BTT Marine Construction or BTTMC).  BTTMC is headquartered in Boston and works from Eastern Connecticut to the Canadian border.  Reinauer owns, in partnership with Hughes Marine the Erie Basin Bargeport in Red Hook.  

The Erie Basin Bargeport was purchased from the Port Authority in 1992.  This is the largest private berthing facility for barges in NY. It totals 87 acres, and includes 56 sheltered-water acres for and 31 upland acres for waterfront warehouse tenants.  

Erie Basin is a major maritime asset for being a protected waterspace – the man-made arms of the facility keep winds and waves from jostling boats inside. This makes it a key hurricane hole, or place of refuge, for workboats during major storms.

At any one time, the vessel count there ranges from 23 to 56. Approximately 200 vessels are home-ported out of Erie Basin.  As Reinauer modernizes its fleet, they have docked mothballed equipment here before selling it.  A large collection accumulated and was sold and exported to Nigeria in 2011 on the heavy lift ship BLUE MARLIN. 

Some of the Reinauer crew are journalists and/or bloggers, and their work gives a good sense of operations on vessels in Erie Basin or that are based there.  Look up Captain Bill Brucato on YouTube and his blog and Captain Joel Milton on WorkBoat and his blog.

The Erie Basin bargeport starts at the south end of IKEA’s property and runs clockwise around the waterspace and wraps around until it almost meets the Beard Street Pier on O’Connell’s property. The narrow cut at that point sees has 5-10 vessels transit a day, tugs and large barges. It takes lots of skill to move large vessels through there taking into account the wind, tide and current. It is hard for captains to see into the Basin as they enter or to see out in the channel before they exit, so to prevent collisions or close calls, before transiting the cut, commercial vessels make a “Sécurité” call on VHF radio channel 13, the channel for “bridge to bridge” (or wheelhouse to wheelhouse communication)

Erie Basin rents a small portion of their property to the NYPD which stores many vehicles being held as evidence.  The rent from the NYPD supports the maritime uses.

PortSide has a close connection to Hughes, Reinauer and the Erie Basin bargeport.  Hughes and Reinauer bought the Mary A Whalen in 1994 after she went out of service due to crankshaft damage. Huges used the MARY as an office for three years and as pier extender until PortSide took her over. The MARY was bought from Hughes and Reinauer who have been very supportive of us over the years, donating towing and funds, storage space, and providing operations advice and historical information.  PortSide also has plans to use the MARY as a dock to host visiting vessels in the maritime center that is our goal to create.

Their Sandy story:

Five and a half feet of water came over the piers in Erie Basin.  All barges that were ballasted and spudded were fine. Only one Buchanan barge, which was not ballasted or spudded, went partially up on the bulkhead.  Their property (not including NYPD leased property of their tenant) had $550K in damage. They spent another $300K in resiliency projects, rising up electric and machinery. 

ID the fleet!

Reinauer tugs and barges are nicknamed the “peanut butter and jelly” fleet due to their livery (color scheme).  They have the standard black hull with everything above that painted in wide bands of a bright red (jelly) with a dark buff (peanut butter) starting with jelly on the bottom. Coamings (upright sections such as around a hatch), railings, and the visors over the tug wheelhouses are all white.  


12 vessels tied up alongside Mary A Whalen in the Erie Basin Bargeport: 2004 Google aerial photograph

12 vessels tied up alongside Mary A Whalen in the Erie Basin Bargeport: 2004 Google aerial photograph

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