New York Port Tugboat Fleet History 1820 - 1976

The Irish Navy

Tugboats were developed in the 1810s, soon after the invention of steam powered ships.  They have been, and continue to be, an important part in the workings and successes of Red Hook's working waterfront.

Beginning in the 1840s, and most evident by the 1900s, so many of the tugboat companies operating in New York Harbor were founded by people of Irish descent that they have informally been dubbed "The Irish Navy"

Hughes Marine shared the time line poster New York Port Tugboat Fleet History 1820 - 1976, created by Brent Dibner, with Red Hook WaterStories, noting that "Hughes Bros. has owned several tugs over the years but we are not listed on this chart. Barges and vessel repair have always been the heart of our operations."  

The PortSide team first saw this framed in the office of NY Shipyard, the successor to Todd Shipyard at what is now IKEA.  It hung in the office of Mike Gallagher of the Gallagher family listed in this chart.

It is very likely that most of the tug companies on this chart have done business in Red Hook.  Here are a few connections:

The Red Star Towing Company was a subsidiary of Ira S. Bushey, located on the foot of Court Street. PortSide NewYork's MARY A. WHALEN is a Bushey boat. 

The Dalzell Towing Company purchased the Red Hook Towing Company in 1925 to expand their operations into Brooklyn.  They then moved their offices to Erie Basin.

Moran Towing, one of the bigger players in New York Harbor, sheltered their new tug EDMUND MORAN in Atlantic Basin during a severe winter storm in 1906 as part of a large flotilla of ships seeking refuge. 


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