Port of Decatur welcomes new towboat

May 3—Employees of Parker Towing, household, pals and Decatur residents gathered on the Port of Decatur on Thursday morning to welcome its new high of the road towboat, the M/V Johnny E. Holt, with a christening ceremony.

“We wanted a new, more modern, very efficient, very clean towboat, and it’s going to be working exclusively here in Decatur,” mentioned Tim Parker Jr., chairman of Parker Towing’s board of administrators.

The new vessel, a twin-screw towboat 60 toes lengthy and 24 toes large, was designed by SeaCraft Design and constructed by Serodino Inc. in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s a substitute for the Mary Ethel, which moved barges out and in of the port for over 50 years, and comes with leading edge security options and double the horsepower.

Named in honor of Johnny Holt, a 35-year-employee and senior port engineer for Parker Towing, the new vessel is vital for Decatur’s financial and industrial growth.

“Johnny has been married to Connie Holt for 38 years, a partnership that’s stood the test of time just like his dedication to Parker Towing,” based on Parker Towing. “As the M/V Johnny E. Holt navigates the waters, it’s more than just a vessel — it’s a symbol of Johnny’s journey, his impact on the maritime community, and the values he brings to everything he does: integrity, resilience, and a commitment to doing things right.”

Ahead of the ceremony, attendees younger and outdated had been invited to tour the new boat. American flags hung from guardrails alongside the vessel’s three decks, and its pristine red-white-and-blue paint scheme glistened beneath the nice and cozy solar. A delicate breeze off the water supplied curious observers some aid.

“This is a major hub of economic activity for the state,” mentioned Tim Parker III, president and CEO of Parker Towing, in a welcoming speech. “A lot of industry is located here, and it’s because of the Tennessee River.

“The waterway business is essentially the most fuel-efficient mode of transportation there’s. It’s the most secure mode of transportation there’s, and it is essentially the most environmentally pleasant mode of transportation there’s. So, that is one thing we’re proud to be a component of, and we’re proud to introduce this new boat to the world.”

The Rev. Chase Ackerman, of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Decatur, in keeping with tradition, presented a ship’s Bible to the vessel’s captain, Al Kirschbaum.

Afterward, Ackerman, who served eight years in the Navy, said learning about the new vessel opened his eyes to a world that most people don’t think about.

“It’s a very good reminder of the individuals who work to make our world go spherical that we simply do not actually acknowledge or see,” he said. “And so, to have the ability to a component of that and to have the ability to be on the water is basically thrilling for me.”

Connie Holt had the honor of breaking a champagne bottle against the ship. The third swing was the charm. Then, Kirschbaum and his crew lined up on the starboard side for photos.

“It’s a superb boat,” said Kirschbaum, who’s worked at the Port of Decatur since 1998. “It’s obtained all of the bells and whistles that you simply want so far as security for navigating — searchlights, radios, and so forth. — and the engines have actually good horsepower. The reliability is one of the large components, too.”

Tuscaloosa-based Parker Towing purchased the Port of Decatur from Decatur Transit Co. in 2014. Kirschbaum said the family-owned company cares deeply for their employees and customers.

“The Port of Decatur is essential to us,” said Parker Jr. “It’s the heartbeat of rather a lot of financial and vessel exercise right here. We have rather a lot of jobs in Decatur which are depending on the Tennessee River.

“The future is good. There’s a lot of development going on around here. A certain percentage of the new industry that locates here will want to use the river — not all of them, but some of them will — and we’re just one of the tools in your toolbox for economic and industrial development.”

[email protected] or 256-340-2438.

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