Towboats

Veteran Towboat Renamed For Capt. Dave Dewey, Operating On Missouri River

Campbell Transportation Company, Charleroi, Pa., has sold the veteran towboat Mark S to MO River Assets LLC, Stillwell, Kan., which has renamed the vessel in honor of another river veteran, Capt. Dave Dewey of Paducah, Ky.

The classic Nashville Bridge Company product from 1960 has earned a reputation for dependability, and for decades was described as the “best shoving 3,200 [hp. boat] out there.” Its namesake has also earned a reputation for dependability and is well known and respected throughout the inland waterway system, thanks to his many years of service as a large-tow captain on the Lower Mississippi River, as an experienced Missouri River pilot and in more recent years as an instructor at the Seamen’s Church Institute in Paducah.

Following his retirement from Seamen’s Church, Dewey continues to work as a trip pilot and consultant when not involved with a prison ministry program at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville, Ky.

The mv. Capt. Dave Dewey began its long career as the Jayne Hougland, the ultra-modern (for the early ’60s) flagship for the former Hougland Barge Line of Paducah. In 1976 the company’s river assets were sold to Marmac Corporation of New Orleans, but in only a few months, the boat was sold again to Triangle Shifting & Fleeting Service Company, Bridge City, Texas.

In 1978 it began a lengthy series of name and ownership changes when it was sold to Harcon Barge Company, Smithland, Ky., and renamed Margie Smith in 1980, Cyprus in 1984, and Three Rivers Lady in 1985. It was sold again in 1988 to M/G Transport Services Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, and renamed Maurice F. Alverson. When Ingram Barge Company absorbed the M/G boats in 1994, the name was changed again to Vernon C. Smith. It was sold again the next year to Campbell Transportation and renamed R.G. Mayes, before finally becoming the Mark S in 2009.

It has been powered since 1979 with a pair of GM 16-645E5 diesels rated at a combined 3,600 hp. The boat had been laid up by Campbell for two years and had been stripped of its galley equipment in preparation for a refurbishing project that was eventually placed on hold. New galley furnishing and cabinetry were purchased and were being installed as the boat departed last month on its way to the Missouri River, where it will operate in conjunction with the General Ashburn (former Pebble Beach), John LaRandeau (former Victoria) and Edmund Weibrecht (former Arkansas).

The Capt. Dave Dewey is being operated by River Marine Enterprises, Paducah, whose president, Capt. David Smith, is well-known as a river historian and former Upper Ohio River correspondent for The Waterways Journal. He is also a long-time friend of Dewey and was responsible for getting the boat renamed in his honor. The renaming continues Smith’s quest to honor people he considers “river heroes” as he acknowledges their commitment to encouraging and improving commercial river navigation, especially along the Missouri River.

Smith said his company is operating several boats for Missouri River Services LLC and the company has been very supportive of his idea of naming boats after river heroes. “The Pebble Beach was chartered from River Assets LLC, who allowed us to rename it General Ashburn, honoring Major Gen. Thomas Q. Ashburn, who was in charge of the federally authorized Inland Waterways Corporation (IWC) during the 1920 and ’30s.” The purpose of the IWC was to revitalize river transportation, and Ashburn took his task seriously, Smith noted. “So much, that the railroads hated him.” He went on to say Ashburn is largely responsible for many navigation improvement projects, including those on the Missouri and Upper Mississippi rivers, but few people today know who he is.

The Victoria was renamed John LaRandeau in honor of a tireless supporter of Missouri River navigation who retired from the Omaha Engineer District and was considered an authority on the operation of the Missouri River system, according to Smith.

He continued, “Capt. Dave Dewey is indeed a river hero to many, and through my decades of friendship with him, I have found him to be one of the most thoroughly decent human beings that I have ever known. He is also an authority on Missouri River navigation, and it’s only fitting that this classic towing vessel be named after a riverman who is a class act in every regard.”

Dewey was unaware of the name change until boarding the boat as a trip pilot for its inaugural Missouri River trip. Capt. Smith said he wanted to keep the news a secret until the necessary paperwork had been filed and it would be too late for his friend to complain loudly enough to stop the process. The new name boards are finished but not on board yet for installation, so Smith had to tell him about the name change.

“I was not pleased when David told me as I am very comfortable keeping a low profile,” Dewey said. “I didn’t get a vote in the matter, but I am honored and am getting used to the idea,” he admitted.

“We couldn’t give him a vote because we knew he’d say no,” Smith chuckled.

Smith went on to say he is very pleased with the boat’s performance. Although admitting it will require some “TLC” to get it scrubbed, repainted and back to its former self, following two years of inactivity, the boat is overall in great shape. “When you look at the exhaust from the stacks, all you see are heat waves, no soot or smoke at all,” he remarked following the boat’s initial trip up the Missouri River. He also noted that somewhere along the line, the kort nozzles were removed, and that actually worked out as a benefit for operation along the Missouri River.

Serving as pilot on the inaugural trip was Capt. Mark Davis.

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