Born in 1874, Frederick E. Bouchard knew that shipping would be his life’s work by the time he was 11 years old.
It was then that he took his first voyage serving as a cabin boy on a sailing ship bound for China in 1885.
At the age of 26, Captain Frederick Bouchard was awarded a medal for bravery after rescuing an immigrant woman and her child from the waters off Ellis Island in New York Harbor on June 6, 1900, in the dark of night. By then he was already well known for rescuing six other souls from the water on various occasions. By 1915, Captain Fred had become the youngest tugboat captain in the Port of New York.
On July 30, 1916, Captain Fred witnessed the infamous Black Tom Explosion while on watch aboard the tug C. Gallagher of the Goodwin, Gallagher Sand Co. The detonation of $22 million worth of World War I munitions did not stop him from steering his tug from the Long Dock at Erie Basin in Brooklyn toward the catastrophe on the New Jersey shore. Enduring continuous explosions that blew out the glass panes and lights of his tug, he helped to rescue the 4,000-ton steamer Tijoca Rio, and the schooner George E. Elezy of Beth, ME.
In May, 1917, the U.S. District Court issued Captain Fred a salvage award, as well as an award for personal bravery, for a total of $9,000. He promptly invested this money to create his own company – Bouchard Transportation Company.
Incorporated in 1918, the company’s first cargo was a shipment of coal.
Bouchard Transportation acquired its first oil barge in 1931 – a sunken 15,000-barrel vessel that Captain Fred purchased for $100.
He raised the vessel and towed it from Jacksonville, Florida to a shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, where the vessel was converted to a hot oil system oil barge and named the John Frederick.
Captain Frederick Bouchard passed away in 1941 at the age of 64 after a brief illness. In November 1944, Liberty Ship S.S. Frederick Bouchard was launched in his memory, and christened by his wife, Ellen S. Bouchard.
In 1951, under the leadership of Captain Fred’s Son, Morton S. Bouchard Sr., commonly known as “Buster,” the company built three 20,000-barrel oil barges and three accompanying tugboats which ran the New York State Bridge Canal. Over the next 25 years, Buster became a prominent figure in the oil transportation industry and continued to expand the company and improve its fleet.
In 1955, the third generation of the Bouchard family joined the company.
By 1978, Buster’s son Morton S. Bouchard Jr. led and grew the company to bring the greatest number of large oil barges into New York Harbor – with most vessels ranging from 55,000- to 110,000-barrel barges.
Over the next three years, the company continued to expand under Morton S. Bouchard Jr.’s leadership. Three 19,000-ton hot oil system barges and three 5,700 horsepower tugboats were built to transport residual products throughout the Gulf Coast, along with two 19,000-ton clean petroleum barges.
By 1989, the company had grown to include 19 barges, ranging from 18,000 to 125,000 barrels, and eight twin screw tugboats, ranging from 4,200 to 6,000 horsepower. During this rapid growth period, the company extended its coastal route to include the entire eastern seaboard, Gulf Coast and Great Lakes ports.
The fourth generation of Bouchards leads the company through new challenges.
Morton S. Bouchard, III – the fourth generation of Bouchards, took the helm of the company in 1992 as the company was facing new challenges brought on by the newly enacted Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
In response, Bouchard led the industry forward by becoming 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.
The company also expanded its operations at this time to include all four coasts of the U.S. – East, Gulf, West, and Great Lakes.
Through its fleet expansion plan, Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. has built and launched a variety of new, state-of-the-art vessels.
In 2010, the company invested in a major fleet expansion plan to construct the most advanced ATB vessels to be traded within the Jones Act Market. Construction began on two new ATB units – the M/V Kim M. Bouchard & B. No. 270 and the M/V Donna J. Bouchard & B. No. 272.
In 2013, President & CEO Morton S. Bouchard, III was inducted into the International Maritime Hall of Fame.
In 2014, the Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. Tug and Barge Simulation Center opened at SUNY Maritime College, and the company received the Tug & Barge Safety Award from American Maritime Safety, Inc. The new ATB tug M/V Denise A. Bouchard entered service, and expansion plans continued with the construction of two additional ATB tugs, the M/V Morton S. Bouchard Jr., and the M/V Frederick E. Bouchard. During the following year, the company was nominated for the prestigious Lloyd’s List North American Maritime Award for Inland, Coastal, or Lake Ship Operator of the Year.
From the start of its fleet expansion initiative in 2010 through 2016, Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. has built and launched a variety of new, state-of-the-art vessels. Most notably are ATB units M/V Kim M. Bouchard & B. No. 270, and M/V Donna J. Bouchard & B. No. 272 which were recognized as WorkBoat’s Most Significant Boat of 2016, and continue to perform above industry standards.
Today, the company’s fleet includes 25 barges and 26 tugs of various sizes, capacities, and capabilities.
Over the past 100 years, the expansion of our fleet and our dedication to serving our customers has been driven by the philosophy, vision, and determination of our founding fathers – along with the efforts of four generations of the Bouchard family. As we celebrate a milestone anniversary of 100 years of service, we are dedicated to continuing our rich heritage of barging expertise and family pride well into the future.