When members of the Dupre Marine Transportation family gathered at Melvin’s Restaurant in Houma, La., January 12 for the christening of the mv. Wells Porche, it was a family celebration, both on and off the boat.
The Wells Porche, a new 72- by 30-foot towboat built at Intracoastal Iron Works in Bourg, La., is named after Dupre Marine owner Rory Dupre’s 1-year-old great nephew, Wells. The little boy’s father, Dexter, the nephew of Dupre’s wife, and his mother, Danae, took turns holding the baby throughout the christening, with Danae having the honor of christening the vessel in front of the large crowd gathered to celebrate the event.
Dexter Porche said the entire experience—from following the boat through its construction and seeing it launched to being there for the christening—has been special.
“We were actually there when they first put the boat in the water,” Porche said. “He’s not going to remember it, but it was definitely an experience we’ll remember. I think he’ll definitely be appreciative of it when he’s older. We’re very thankful for the honor.”
Intracoastal Iron Works launched the Entech-designed towboat on December 5, 2022, and it got underway soon after the christening.
The vessel has a moulded depth of 10 feet and a pilothouse eye level of 34 feet. The Wells Porche’s two Cummins QSK38-M1 Tier 3 main engines generate a total of 2,000 hp. Those main engines, mated to Twin Disc MG540 gearboxes, turn 76- by 66-inch stainless steel Sound Denominator wheels. The Wells Porche features 7-inch stainless steel shafts with Simplan dripless shaft seals and Duramax bearings. Ship service power comes from a pair of Cummins QSB7-DM 65 kW. generators.
The Wells Porche has tankage for 18,000 gallons of fuel, 10,000 gallons of water and 600 gallons of lube oil.
Unlimited Controls supplied the vessel’s alarm system, while Pneumatic Specialties supplied its electric-over-hydraulic steering system. On deck, the Wells Porche features 40-ton deck winches from Nabrico. Ahead Sanitation Systems provided the marine sanitation system. The Wells Porche’s fenders are by M&M Bumpers. Electronics aboard the vessels are by Koden.
The Wells Porche offers accommodations for seven spread across five staterooms and three bathrooms. A sizable crew lounge is located forward on the vessel’s third deck and offers excellent views.
Dupre said the Wells Porche is the fourth boat in a four-boat series from Intracoastal Iron Works, and he said all the vessels from the father-son team of Raymond and Peter Viguerie really stand out.
“These boats are amazing,” Dupre said. “When you walk on it, you see that it’s like a home, the home for our crew. They spend more time on that boat than they do at home, so crew comfort is a big thing. Any time you get on a boat that’s come from Intracoastal Iron Works, Mr. Raymond and Peter, it’s home, and it looks like a yacht.”
Scanning the crowd, Dupre thanked many of the people present who have helped make the company successful over the years, including the finance team that has made adding to the fleet feasible and Dupre Marine’s shoreside team that helps make vessel crews successful each day. Dupre also singled out Craig Foret, vice president at Kirby Inland Marine.
“Eleven years ago, Craig Foret chose to take a chance on DMT,” Dupre said. “He didn’t know who we were. He was introduced to me by a mutual friend, and he took a chance. He hired the Kylie Dupre, which was a 1,200.”
Initially billed as a short-term contract, the Kylie Dupre went on to work for Kirby for seven years until the company sold it.
“I’ll take that short-term job any day,” Dupre said.
Dupre said the Wells Porche is now working for Kirby. In fact, of the company’s 15 towboats, 13 are working for Kirby.
“A heartfelt thank you, Craig and your staff, for challenging Dupre Marine to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday,” Dupre said. “From my shoreside staff and myself, thank you for taking a chance on us.”
Dupre also recognized his wife, Alva, ahead of their 22nd anniversary the next day. He closed by introducing the crew of the Wells Porche, which moved over from the mv. Kathleen Dupre. On board the Wells Porche are Capt. Chad Verdin; Robert Conklin, relief captain; Tristin Verdin, tankerman and son of the captain; Laird “Paco” Rodrigue, tankerman; Jared Belanger, tankerman; and Bryce Larousse, deckhand.
Dupre praised the crew for its performance on the Kathleen Dupre, where Kirby recognized it with a no-harm award for four years straight, from 2018 to 2021. In 2017 and 2018, the Kathleen was a top five vessel in Kirby’s fleet in terms of safety performance.
What’s more, the crew is a great example of what the next generation of mariners can do through hard work and dedication. Belanger recently got his tankerman license, Dupre said, and Tristin Verdin is about to get his captain’s license. Less than five years ago, Tristin Verdin wasn’t even in the maritime industry. He came to Dupre Marine from a job at Subway.
“So in four years and seven months, he went from sandwich maker extraordinaire to the wheelhouse of a boat like this one,” Dupre said. “It’s a great example to this generation coming up, if they put their nose to the grindstone and commit to it.”
Tristin Verdin will reach that goal without any school debt, Dupre said, with the company covering the cost of his training.
“It makes me proud, and I know Tristin’s proud,” Dupre said. “And I know his dad is as well.”
Caption for top photo: The mv. Wells Porche was built for Dupre Marine by Intracoastal Iron Works. (Photo by Frank McCormack)