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69° 06.204 W

Penobscot Bay Tides

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About Our Vessels
The T/V Anne and the T/V Duff operate daily from Schooner Wharf in Rockland, Maine, delivering petroleum products to the islands of midcoast Maine from Frenchboro to Monhegan.

The following article about the history of our boats was featured in the Spring 2009 issue of Pipeline, a quarterly newsletter published by the Vane Brothers Company.


The motor tanker Duff
The motor tanker Duff pulls away from Fleet
Headquarters in Fairfield for the last time

Farewell, Old Friend

The motor tanker Duff was retired from the Vane fleet in March 2009 after 38 years of active service. Built in 1971 by Luther Blount at Blount Shipyard in Warren, Rhode Island, she was the first motor tanker commissioned by Vane. Named for Company President C. Duff Hughes, she took 11 months to construct. Her purchase price was, for that time period, a staggering $80,000. The transaction marked the first time in decades that Vane had approached a bank for a loan.

On September 9, 1971 Hughes, just 13 at the time, christened his namesake, and accompanied by his father, Vane President Charles F. Hughes, Jr., he shipped out as a galley boy on the Duff's maiden voyage. He recalls that the trip was arduous, compounded by a rough storm and heavy seas, but the vessel and crew arrived safely in Baltimore two and a half days later.

The Foundation of a Fleet
The Duff settled in alongside the motor tanker Vane Bros. as the second vessel in the Vane fleet. She went into contracted service for Exxon, Mobil, and Texaco, delivering marine diesel to ships in the Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Bay. She also serviced dredges, shipyards, floating dry-docks, and naval vessels. Senior Port Captain Russi Makujina recalls, "The Duff was a workhorse in the Baltimore Harbor. Her versatile loading and pumping arrangement made it capable of fueling and defueling a variety of vessels. She earned a reputation for reliable and on-time deliveries."

In 1979, as Vane's light oil fueling operations continued to expand, Company President Charles F. Hughes, Jr. ordered construction of a third motor tanker, named the Anne, for Duff's sister, Anne Hughes DeCamps. The late 1970s and early 1980s were busy times for Vane's harbor tankers. An Arab oil embargo caused port congestion as large colliers sat at anchorage awaiting coal berths. Public works projects, especially the construction of the Fort McHenry Tunnel and Hart-Miller Island, also increased business. Chief Operating Officer Thomas G. Gaither, who joined Vane in 1983, worked aboard the Duff for two years. He says, "Back then the whole company was the Anne and the Duff. Those boats ran all day, every day." In later years the Duff came under the command of George Schwallenburg, Henry Mitchum, and Paul Thomas.

The motor tanker Duff
With the crack of a bottle, thirteen-year-old
C. Duff Hughes christens his namesake,
the motor tanker
Duff, on September 9, 1971

Under OPA 90, Vessel
Construction Begins

Under the mandate of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), the phasing-out of single skin tank vessels had been imposed by 2015. Thus, by 1995 the Duff was confined to servicing exclusively tugs and barges and Vane established its vessel construction program under the leadership of C. Duff Hughes, who by then had been named company president.

Today, Vane's newbuild tank barges can carry 6,090,000 gallons (140,000 barrels) of product, compared to the Duff's 42,000 gallon (1,000 barrel) capacity. The importance, however, of the Duff to the company's modern fleet cannot be overlooked. As Gaither points out, "The Duff built Vane Line Fuel, which built Vane Line Bunkering. Without the early boats, Vane as we know it today would not exist." Captain Makujina echoes those same sentiments when he says, "she was indeed the forerunner of Vane's fleet and she will be sadly missed."

Gone, But Not Forgotten
Duff Hughes recalls the day that the Duff pulled away from her berth at Fleet Headquarters in Baltimore. "It was a very personal and sad day for me as she made her way down river to the Key Bridge. When I worked aboard her, she taught me a great deal about the maritime industry. I will always be indebted to that little tanker."

Together Again
The Duff has been sold to Maine Coastal Petroleum of Tenants Harbor, Maine. In 2004 Maine Coastal purchased Vane's motor tanker Anne. The company has offered to allow both tankers to retain their original names. It seems a most appropriate end to the Duff's tenure at Vane as she joins her "sister" boat in plying New England's waters.

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