Kacie Maxwell breaks champagne bottle over mock-up of mv. Jason Luhr. (Photo by H. Nelson Spencer)

Flood Doesn’t Stop Luhr Bros. Christening

The crowd of 300 or so employees, friends and other well-wishers who attended the Luhr. Bros. Inc. twin christening recently witnessed what may well have been the first such event held in the absence of the vessels themselves. The ceremony was conducted June 15 at the marine contractor’s headquarters in Columbia, Ill. Meanwhile, the boats, the mvs. Jason Luhr and Noah P. Hays, remained tied off at the company’s dock, stranded there by the floodwaters of the Mississippi River and inaccessible by anything other than a yawl.

Company officials, who had set the date of the christening before the flood, decided to stick with the plan because the high water was expected to fall out slowly and as soon as it did, the boats would need to get back to work.

Absent as well as the boats, sadly, were the vessels’ namesakes, both of whom died unexpectedly at an early age and were memorialized at the ceremony.

Nichole Harrison handles the christening duties for the mv. Noah P. Hays. (Photo by H. Nelson Spencer)
Nichole Harrison handles the christening duties for the mv. Noah P. Hays. (Photo by H. Nelson Spencer)

Luhr Bros. used two freshly painted capstans to represent the boats and give the sponsors a solid object over which to shatter the traditional champagne bottle, which they did at the direction of Mike Luhr, retired president, who emceed the christening.

The sponsor for the towboat Jason Luhr, which was named for the son of Luhr Bros. president Jay Luhr, was Kacie Maxwell, Jason’s sister. The sponsor for the Noah P. Hays, named for the grandson of Mike Luhr, was Nichole Harrison, Noah’s mother.

Before the bottle breaking, the vessels’ captains, Kevin Poole of the Jason Luhr and Jerry Bell of the Noah P. Hays, were presented with ship’s Bibles by retired minister William Groennert.

Luhr also used the occasion to recognize 10 employees who had retired recently after a combined 366 years of service. Mike Luhr, who said he thought he had retired two years ago, topped the list at 51 years. The others, the eldest of whom started with Luhr Bros. at the bottom and worked their way up to jobs of increasing responsibility, said Luhr, were Lloyd Miller, 47; Bill Dependahl and Kenny Tobin, 45; John Kannewurf and Monte Foster, 41; Steve Glenn, 40; Anne Candler, 31; Danny Moergen, 13; and Ruthie Levin; 12.

The Boats

Neither boat is new, but neither had been formally christened. The Hays was built in 1985 by Jeffboat for Luhr Bros. as the Cletus, renamed The Mule in 2005 and then Noah P. Hayes. It is a 102-foot, 3,000 hp. towboat with a retractable pilothouse.

National Maintenance at Hartford, Ill., recently completed repowering the vessel with two CAT 3512 diesel engines, which turn 84- by 68-inch propellers through Twin Disc MGX5600DR reduction gears at a 6.02:1 ratio. The package included Centa CX72 couplings and EC300 controls, all from Fabick CAT Power via Palmer Johnson Power Systems. New Wartsila seals and Duramax bearings were installed.

Luhr also completely rebuilt the vessel’s CAT 3306 110 kw. generators, the cooling system and EMI steering system, and updated the piping. SCF Services remodeled the deckhouse, including the crew’s quarters and galley, using new flooring, paneling, drop ceilings, cabinets and appliances, and sound-deadening insulation. A new HVAC system was installed.

Mid Rivers Fire Safety installed a new fire detection system. Humco supplied the new Duramax fenders on the towknees and perimeter of the main deck. Gmeni provided an all-new wheelhouse electronics package featuring a Furuno FR1918V/BB radar with a 6.5-foot array and a Furuno pilothouse alerter system. On deck are two new 65-ton Wintech winches and a rebuilt Schoellhorn-Albrecht capstan. Sherwin-Williams furnished the coatings along with Thomas Industrial Coatings.

The Jason Luhr was also extensively remodeled, except that its engines, also CAT 3512s, were rebuilt, not replaced with new ones. The boat, a conventional-type towboat constructed by Quality Shipyards in Houma, La., in 1999, measures 76 by 35 feet with 2,400 hp.

The Jason Luhr has Lufkin 5.2:1 reduction gears, which Luhr Bros. rebuilt, along with the original CAT 3304 generators. At its yard in Houma, Bourg Dry Dock remodeled the quarters, consisting of four bunkrooms and two heads, and the wheelhouse; installed new channel coolers; new sound-damping epoxy flooring; and new towknee and perimeter fendering from M&M Bumper. Wolter Custom Cabinets supplied new galley cabinets and appliances. Luhr added two new 40-ton Wintech winches and upgraded the wheelhouse electronics.

Juneau Marine installed a new HVAC system, Mid Rivers Fire Safety installed a new fire detection system and Carboline provided the vessel’s coatings.

After the proceedings, Luhr Bros. treated guests to a barbecue and live country and western music.

Caption for top photo: Kacie Maxwell breaks champagne bottle over mock-up of mv. Jason Luhr. (Photo by H. Nelson Spencer)

Click the slideshow below for more photos from the ceremony. (All photos by H. Nelson Spencer)

JasonLuhr MV NOAH P HAYS Mike (left)and Jay Luhr Mike Luhr, large crowd Poole (left) and Bell
The refurbished Jason Luhr was built by Quality Shipyards in 1999.