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Built in 1909, by Burlee Drydock of Mariner's Harbor in Staten Island, New York (hull #449) as the Empire for the Erie Railroad Company of Jersey City, New Jersey.

However, prior to her completion for the Erie Railroad Company. The tug was acquired by the Panama Railroad Company of Panama City, Panama. When she was completed, and was renamed as the P.J.T. Co. No. 8. After she was launched, the tug was utilized in the construction of the Panama Canal.

However, while working at the site of the Panama Canal. The P.J.T. Co. No. 8. was caught in a rockslide and, was buried. The tug remained buried for a year before being dug out, and returned to service.

In 1923, the tug was acquired Danziger Lumber Company. Where she retained her name.

She was later acquired by the Sabine Towing Company of Port Arthur, Texas. Where the tug retained her name. The tug was utilized for offshore towing.

However, the tug Sabine Towing Company renamed the tug as the Empire.

In 1928, while towing a barge off of Pensacola, Florida she was caught in a hurricane. The tug attempted to find a sheltered anchorage but struck the bottom, damaging her propeller. Through the course of the hurricane, the high waters and gale force winds carried the Empire over half a mile inland. The tug was salvaged by dredging a canal, and towing her back out to sea.

In 1949, the tug was repowered. Where she was renamed as the Titan.

In 1980, the tug was acquired by the McAllister Brothers Towing Company of New York, New York. Where the tug retained her name.

In 1999, she was "laid up." Although, the tug served as a “back up” boat until 2003.

In 2004, she was acquired by the Northeastern Maritime Historical Foundation of Duluth, Minnesota. Where she was moved up the Cape Fear River to a new berth in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina.

She was then acquired by the Swansboro Rotary Club of Swansboro, North Carolina. The superstructure was cut off in order to remove the main engine. However, it was discovered that the welds used to reattach the superstructure were weak, and had eventually caused the superstructure to collapse.

In 2004, the tug was reefed.

Originally powered with a triple expansion steam engine measuring 14, 22 and 36 bore by 24 stroke. Producing 800 horsepower, it was fed by a single 14x12 Scotch boiler. A new 16x22, four cycle, eight cylinder, Nordberg FSM-168-SC, direct reversing, supercharged, diesel engine was installed. Rated at 1,750 horsepower

In 1982, the tug was repowered again. Where she was fitted with a single, Electro Motive Division 16-645 diesel engine, rated at 2,000 horsepower.
(Sean Yates)

  • Vessel Name: EMPIRE
  • USCG Doc. No.: 0206765
  • Vessel Service: TOWING VESSEL
  • Trade Indicator: Coastwise Unrestricted
  • Hull Material: STEEL
  • Hull Number: 449
  • Ship Builder: Burlee Dry Dock
  • Year Built: 1909
  • Length: 110
  • Hailing Port: WILMINGTON, NC.
  • Hull Breadth: 25
  • Gross Tonnage: 288
  • Previous Vessel Names:
    Empire, P.J.T. Co. No. 8, Empire, Titan
  • Previous Vessel Owners:
    Port Johnson Towing Co., Danziger Lumber Co., Sabine Towing Co., McAllister Bros. Towing Co., McAllister Towing of Wilmington, Northeastern Maritime Historical Foundation, Swansboro Rotary Club