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Oil Barging and Tugboats

From his first voyage at eleven years of age as a cabin boy on a sailing ship bound for China, Captain Bouchard knew that shipping would be his life. By 1915, he was the youngest tugboat captain in the Port of New York.

  Captain Fred Bouchard  
Fred Bouchard
NY Times Article from June 8, 1900
Woman and Child Saved (by Captain Bouchard)


On July 30, 1916, while on watch of the tug C. GALLAGHER of the Goodwin, Gallagher Sand Co., Captain Bouchard witnessed the infamous Black Tom Explosion, which detonated $22 Million dollars worth of WW I munitions. Always one to set out to accomplish what few others could, he took his tug from the Long Dock at Erie Basin in Brooklyn and headed for New Jersey. Amongst continuing explosions, which blew the glass panes and lights out of his tug, he worked to rescue the 4,000-ton Brazilian steamer TIJOCA RIO, and the schooner GEORGE W. ELEZY, of Bath, ME. Later the US District Court awarded the Captain a salvage award and an additional award for personal bravery, which totaled $9,000. He quickly invested the salvage award to create his own company, Bouchard Transportation Company, which was incorporated in 1918.

The first cargo shipped for his new company was coal. In 1931, he acquired Bouchard's first oil barge, a sunken 15,000-barrel vessel, which he purchased for $100. After raising this vessel, he then towed it from Jacksonville, Florida to a Norfolk, Virginia shipyard, where it was converted into a hot oil system, oil barge that was named the JOHN FREDERICK. This 1931 acquisition was to be the first of many vessel purchases and construction projects at Bouchard.

"With His Own Seafaring Experience and Vigorous Spirit, Captain Bouchard Founded a Prosperous Barging Company"


Captain Bouchard's first successor was his son commonly known in the industry as "Buster." In 1951, under "Buster's" direction, the company built three 20,000-barrel oil barges, and three accompanying tugboats, which ran the New York State Barge Canal. In the years that followed, "Buster" Bouchard became a prominent figure in the oil transportation industry. In 1955, the third generation of Bouchards entered the company. The family's involvement grew, and so did the company's fleet.

From 1951 to 1976, Bouchard Transportation consistently expanded and improved its fleet to meet its customers' increasing needs. Under the new leadership the company was credited with having brought the greatest number of large oil barges into New York Harbor between 1974 and 1978. During this period, the majority of the vessels built by Bouchard ranged from 55,000 to 110,000 barrel barge.

"Increasing the Size and Capabilities of Our Fleet and Extending Our Coastal Route"


Even though the company's cargo carrying capacity doubled, building continued from 1979 to 1980, three 19,000 ton hot oil system barges and three 5,700 horsepower tugboats were built to transport residual products via the Gulf Coast along with two 19,000 ton clean petroleum barges. By 1989 the fleet grew to nineteen barges and eight tugboats. The barges range in size from 18,000 to 125,000 barrels. Rounding out the fleet are eight twin screw tugboats from 4,200 to 6,000 horsepower, which were more maneuverable than the original tugs. During this rapid growth period, in addition to increasing its fleet, Bouchard extended its coastal route to include the entire eastern seaboard, Gulf Coast and Great Lakes ports.

"A Leader in OPA Certified Double Hull Oil Barges"


In 1992, the fourth generation of Bouchards took the helm just as the company faced the new challenges from the expansive new regulations enacted under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90). In response, Bouchard once again took the lead and became the first company to build several new 138,000 barrel "Double Hull" barges and "state-of-the-art" 6,140 horsepower tugboats to move these 400+ foot barges. In addition, they built, to date, the largest new double hull barge ever built: the B. NO. 245, which is larger than 250,000 barrels. The company also expanded the area of operation to include all four coast of the US, East, Gulf, West and Great Lakes. Today the Bouchard's fleet contains some 26 barges ranging from 25, 000 barrel to 252, 000 barrels and 25 Tugs ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 horsepower.

The future continues to looks bright as additional construction projects and conversions are currently underway. Bouchard prepares to build for the future and continue in its age long philosophy of re-investing in new equipment to meet current and future needs of its customers and the industry while looking forward to the challenges of tomorrow. The successful barging company that Capt. Bouchard started more than 80 years ago continues today with a foundation of experience and family tradition.


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